He pushed his metal cart slowly down the suburban street. Stopping at the end of a driveway, he opened the lid of the recycling pail, dug through, pulled out a plastic soda bottle and placed it in his cart. Closing up the pail, he moved his cart toward the next driveway.
He’s a regular every Wednesday, Recycling Day, in the neighborhood where I work. An elderly man, he uses the cart to help him down the street, holding onto it with one hand while he digs through a recycling pail with the other. His weekly travels include a stop at the empty lot in the middle of the block, picking up beer bottles, soda bottles or plastic water bottles, all of which can be turned in at the store for a deposit refund. At the end of the long road, his cart is full. He turns his cart in the opposite direction, heading toward the local store’s bottle return machine.
On this particular Wednesday, while The Bottle Man was at the empty lot picking up items to return for deposit, the neighbor who lived across the street came out of his house with a bulging shopping bag . Crossing the road, he handed the bag of empty soda bottles to The Bottle Man, who took it with a wide smile. Placing the bag into his now full cart, The Bottle Man turned his cart around, and slowly headed to the store to return the bottles for the deposit money.
A God in the Ordinary moment: this elderly man, cleaning up the neighborhood where he lives. And a neighbor showing his appreciation with a small kindness.
© Diane L. Neuls DeBlasio 2011