Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Johann Wagener 11-13-13

Today was my day to visit my local recycling center to drop of a heaping bag of empty bottles and make a few bucks in the process. I consider that being entrepreneurial in some twisted way.

As I pulled up in my not-so-late model BMW I noticed someone pulling up next to me in a shopping cart full of bottles and cans much like mine. Then, along came another person in a wheelchair with a shopping cart full of cans and bottle hooked the the back.

I seemed to be the only person with a car, a haircut, an unbroken pair of glasses and shoes with healthy soles on them, and that made me wonder?

Where do other environmentally conscious people go to recycle? Is my recycling center in a bad location?  I guess if Palm Springs, CA is on worse 10 places to live list, I'd be right.

So, I thought about it some more and came up with the following;

Probably most of the "greenies" just walk out of their front doors and dump their cans and bottles in a big shinny bin that someone later comes along in a nice big truck to scoop up and take to the recycling center.

No fuss, no muss, that way.

And, hey, their doing the honorable thing and protecting the environment, which is much more than I know a lot of other folks do. So bravo for them! They earned a spot on the DeGeneres show to pick up their "5 minutes of fame."

Ok. Enough with the "greenie-bashing" already. I'm going off message here.

The insight I got had to do more with the folks I pulled up with this morning and the part they seem to be playing by recycling their cans and bottles which I can comfortably assert is helping to protect our environment.

I see what is commonly referred to as "those" people almost everywhere I go when I'm out and about. Some of them are toting huge bags of cans on their backs, others use shopping carts and even wheelchairs. I assume that at some point they will all end up where I was today, but maybe not for the same reasons.

I'd venture to guess they travel long hard distances to get here to not just help out in protecting and preserving the environment but to also preserve themselves. I suspect that when they pick up their few bucks from the cashier they are probably thinking about what fast food joint they can dine in today.

Now, here's where the "big idea" that popped into my head comes in.

What I noticed was the similarity between what was going on here and what I witnessed while living in Costa Rica a few years back. Costa Rica is a country made up of both the haves and the have not jus t like here in America. It's a place that's labor intensive. That is to say there are about as many jobs as there are people.

If you pull in to a gas station, for example, you'll be swarmed by a handful of people checking your tires, pumping your, gas, washing your windows without even a hint of looking for a tip. Same goes for supermarkets, banks, etc. Lot's of folks doing their part to contribute to their economy and the "social healthcare" system they depend (bad word I know).

So, now I come back state-side and realize that this approach from an economical and environmental point of view is a "cash cow" just waiting to be born.  I'm sure the MBA's on Wall Street have computer program at the ready to jump on this one.

Here's what I propose to both greenies and economists alike.

How about we both clean up the environment and help out a few people who are "down on their luck" in the process. Believe it or not there's a benefit in there for both the environment and the economy.

Since there's this enormous population (around 3.5 million at last count)  of "those" unskilled but able bodied workers, living next to us why not put them to work helping us clean up the environment?

And, if you a few minutes to spare you might want to have a chat with a few of these folks.  I recall when, as a 16 year old runaway (my Huck Finn Adventure) I had the opportunity to share a few meals and boxcars with some of them . Back then they were called "hobos" rather than "homeless" and, looking back, they were actually much better off than their descendants.

What I learned from them would not have been easily found in a college textbook. Like wrapping your self up in newspapers on a cold night to stay warm. Actually as good or even better than a down sleeping bag, and much less expensive. Or tying my shoes around my neck before falling asleep so I could get up the next day and still have them. Fortunately these are skills I haven't had to use as of yet but it does leave me with a comforting feeling knowing I have them just in case.

That's a plus in itself but look at all the other perks we'll get. No need to dump a bunch of tax dollars into fancy dumpsters and carts. Or pay someone to pick them up once a week. Might even lower the tax rate.

I save the best for last here, because I know this will make those Ayn Rand fans salivate and I like to tease them. But, guess what? The giant untapped labor force I'm referring to won't cost you a dime! They will actually work for just cans and bottles and be more than willing to drop by your place anytime, any day. I'll bet you could even coax some of them to park their cart on your corner and ad a little "neighborhood watch" service. Again all for free.

I realize the last suggestion might be a little tough given that in many of our more refined and pristine communities there are actually laws on the books, punishable by fine or imprisonment if someone were to dare pulling an empty can or bottle out of a dumpster.

So, to those folks I'll suggest this. Why not bag up all those empty Coke cans and Peirrie water bottles and take them along with you when you go to church next Sunday.

Or, if you'r not into all that God thing (I know atheism is more in vogue these days) why not pull your Beemer up next to the person behind a shopping cart and hand them the cans you threw in your back seat?

Heck, you could even save a few backs on that next car wash.

Let me sum up by saying; If a village idiot like me was able to come up with a few novel ideas on how to help people and our environment I am certain there's a lot of much wiser and more talented than I who could really do even better than that. All that's required is "thinking" a little.

Just in case some of you still don't know who I'm talking about, here's a few visuals to help you notice them when you're out and about; if you still have a problem recognizing them just click on Google Images and type in "homeless person." there's millions more where these came from.