Thursday, November 17, 2011

Brothers of the Pick

I taught three classes on Monday, two during the day and one at night.  My day classes are close enough to home that I can walk or ride my bike, which I usually do.  I walked on Monday, so that I could catch the bus to the evening class without having to hassle with getting the bike on and off the bus.  Plus, Keith does a class at the same school on Mondays, so we ride home together.

Anyway, I was walking through the neighborhood, zig zagging between piles of junk set-outs looking for treasure on my way to work.  The entire area between my house and that center where I teach is a part of this week's pick up, so there was a lot to see.  Or not a lot to see, depending on your perspective.

Didn't find much, except for an amazing Mid-Century Modern headboard that was too large to take with me and that I knew would not be there that evening.  Oh well.  I didn't have space for it at either booth at the moment anyway.

I've kind of learned that I have to be a little philosophical about missed opportunities and then let them go.  After a couple of years in this business, I can say that I know a few things for sure:

1.  There's always going to be junk out there somewhere.
2.  Some of it you'll get.
3. Some you won't, for a variety of reasons.
4. You can't be everywhere.
5. Similarly, you can't get everything.
6. There's no use fretting over things you don't get because (back to number 1).

I can't spend all my time stressing about what I didn't get.  There's too much else out there to find.

Anyway, as I was walking along, I noticed a man in front of me with a plastic bags who was also looking through the piles.  I was kind of intrigued, since you don't see too many pickers on foot (other than me, of course).  Sometimes folks will poke in a pile they're passing out of idle curiosity, but there was a deliberateness to this guy.  He was definitely picking.

I watched him for a few minutes, then I realized what he was doing.  He was looking for cans!

For the past few months, I've been pondering various aspects of this re-sell enterprise.  You've got those who craft things to put on Etsy using older materials that they've bought/found.  You've got those who set up at flea markets.  You've got the eBayers.  You've got your people with booths.  You've got people who sell gold.  You've got your scrappers.  But I hadn't ever thought about the can collectors in that context before.

But it fits!  They go out.  They hunt, usually in all kinds of weather.  If they're lucky, they find something.  And then, maybe, they'll make a little (very little) money for their efforts.  Sounds like what I do.  And what all of the above do. 

Our hunting grounds may be different. What we're looking for may be different.  But, in the end what we're all trying to do is make a little cash off of things that others were getting rid of.

I know some very snooty people with booths who will take great offense at being lumped in with the homeless guys and their carts of cans.  I love it!


Roger Owen Green said...

good philosophy

Lynn said...

After my Dad had a heart attack at age 45 the Dr told him to walk so.....

he would walk the 2 miles into town and along the way he picked up cans.

He made himself a long wooden pole with a cup hook on one end so he could snag them from afar.

He always joked that the only thing he could buy with his earnings was a cup of coffee!

Love your story!