Homeless Helper

Since we’re talking trash…

I live in a part of town where we have a special service provided by those who inhabit the lower rungs of the economic ladder. These latter-day rag-pickers cruise the neighborhood on trash-day eve, collecting returnable cans and bottles. Those that take care of our street are always courteous, clean, and quiet (as quiet as they can be with a shopping cart full of bottles).

Some of our neighbors are adamant that we shouldn’t leave returnables out with our recycling, but honestly, who wants to spend twenty minutes at the Fred Meyer automated redemption center for a buck fifty (if you’re lucky)?

Anyway, I was awakened at 1:45 this morning by somebody insistently ringing our bell and knocking on our door. It kind of freaked me out. I pulled back the blind to see a hulking figure in the dark on our porch. When he saw me, he immediately shouted through the window that a light was on in my car. Then he left, taking his shopping cart full of empties with him.

Sure enough, one of my car doors was slightly ajar, and the dome light was on. He probably saved me the hassle of jump starting my car this morning.

Ain’t that special?

5 Comments so far

  1. Redheaded Stepchild (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 12:20 pm

    Be sure to check if your car registration, any ID etc… are intact. In our neighborhood (Felony Flats) a dome light left on in a car is a message to other car prowlers that this car has already been ‘done’. Prowlers often work in teams. ID, change in ashtrays and anything else not bolted down is an easy grab.

    Still, it was nice of him to let you know.


  2. Steve (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 1:54 pm

    It was still locked up tight… there was a seat belt closed in the rear passenger door, preventing the dome light from turning off, but I had to use my keys to get in.


  3. dieselboi (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    I’m a little challenged by this. We have situations where we assist someone either with money or cans or something and it comes back to bite us. That knock at the door @ 11pm for us was the homeless person high on something demanding money or something, making the assumption that since we helped them once, we would help them again. I know that is one incident and I should not judge others by that, yet when homeless people are sleeping in the back ally and using it as a toilet, again, I become troubled.

    Keep up the good work Steve. You are doing the right thing.


  4. Steve (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 4:55 pm

    Diesel, don’t get me wrong… I’m no evil do-gooder trying to help these guys out. They are providing me a service, saving me the unpleasant task of redeeming empties. I hear them but almost never see them. Last night was a very rare interaction.

    I just know if I put my empties out on the eve of trash day, they’ll be collected, redeemed and recycled.

    (BTW, the first ever Overlook Neighborhood Assn. meeting I attended, there was a presentation by homeless folks. Some old lady greeted them by bitching about homeless people going through recycling bins for returnables. My response: put them in a separate bag outside of your bins. Everybody wins! But she wasn’t buying it. C’est la vie.)


  5. Shopping Cart Guy (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 9:20 am

    Caution with the homeless is understandable, as many of them are extremely desperate and have ended up homeless due to some nasty habits in their lives. Not all…some are mentally or emotionally impaired, but this may have dangers as well.

    Where we really need to be careful is to not forget that they are people. too, and deserve basic human dignity.



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