Recognizing a person’s hard work

Quiet admiration for a small group of industrious individuals

Editor, The Record:

Looking out of my front room window recently, a passing stranger in the neighbourhood gave me reason to pause and think about a group of people I had until then, been largely ignoring.

It’s probably not a big stretch of reasoning to suggest the majority of us in Mission give this small group of people little thought or consideration – indeed some of us may even view this group with suspicion or perhaps even contempt.

It is a very small group; such a small group of people that they are only infrequently seen around our neighbourhoods or downtown, but they are a group which, upon reflection, I cannot help but quietly admire.

I speak of the small band of seemingly tireless folk, who, (unless I am very much mistaken) find themselves in a time of their lives when money is extremely tight and opportunities to earn seem to be either very few or none at all. Nevertheless (or perhaps more accurately, as a result), these people relentlessly trawl our streets to harvest the recyclable elements of our trash, which they then deposit downtown in return for a small amount of money.

I can’t say for certain if these are acts of desperation, but I admit that to me they do seem to be such — this is, after all, a North American version of what many of us will have seen only through our television screens; namely raking through the city dump with a metal hook to find usable scraps from within society’s waste. Some people may find this activity abhorrent, objectionable, or even criminal, but I find something praiseworthy in the time and effort which this group is putting into doing something to help sustain themselves. I applaud these anonymous folks for their industry and their enterprise, whether it be the individual with an old rusty stroller filled with pop cans and half a dozen recycling bags strapped thereon, or the homeless person strolling into the recycling depot with a carrier bag filled with empties.

I understand some people may feel I’m looking too hard to find the positive here, but I would rather recognize someone’s hard work and bring it to someone else’s awareness than judge others for not being as lucky as I am. These folks could be trying any one of hundreds of dishonest ways to make ends meet — I, for one, am very happy for them to take my recycling to the depot if it means that they can get a few dollars for their trouble.

Leo Simmons