I was in my usual hurry today, rushing home to make dinner and change before biking to racquetball, playing for an hour, biking back, showering, and rushing out to run errands before going to a friend’s house to watch The Amazing Race. On my way out the door, though, I saw an old guy fishing cans out of the dumpster near the apartments. I’d seen him a few times before, and even left some cans outside the dumpster to make it easier for him, but I was curious, so I started to talk to him.
It wasn’t so much a conversation as it was me listening to him tell me about himself. He opened up and told me about how the price of metals was going way up, and how in his life this had happened three times and each time would be followed by a drop and a recession. He used to work in a smelter in Anaconda, then moved to Richland to work at the Hanford area. He’s been retired for 18 years now. He has colon cancer, and it’s spread to his lungs, but he had surgery and is slowly recovering. He’s been collecting cans for 9 years and has permission from all of the nearby apartment complexes. He only makes about $20 a week, but it’s more about something to do than it is about the money. A lot of people throw away perfectly good and even unused stuff, so he has yard sales occasionally, and has made $1600 dollars so far selling stuff he just found.
It was interesting listening to him talk about the places he’d been and the things he used to do and the way things used to be. Difficult to push away my impatience at not being able to run my errands, but it was an artificial impatience; more an artifact of my hurriedness throughout the day than my hurriedness at that moment. So I set the rush away and just listened to him talk for half an hour. I may not have accomplished the things I wanted to right now, but I sure learned a lot about Leo and Richland.