Redemption Value

Quarter of eleven. I encountered a homeless man on my way to the store, scrounging for empties for the redemption value. I was carrying two bottles myself, so I gave them to him. I also advised him that Community Market doesn’t take empties in plastic bags. He said he was going to Albertsons and lamented that they don’t take large fruit juice bottles anymore. I wished him luck and he thanked me. It reminds me of how I helped a participant at Laurel Hill every day by giving him my soda bottles. No one told me to do that, or not to either. I just felt generous toward the less fortunate participants who worked in janitorial. One of my coworkers disapproved of my practice, but I didn’t care what she thought. Some people saw the participant asking for empties as a pest. Still, a lot of us gave him what we could. He told me one afternoon that he made more money collecting bottles than he did working his job. A few times I led him to the back of my truck, where I had amassed a hill of bottles, and let him load up. It was my lazy habit, after work, to just chuck my soda empties in the back before driving home. And occasionally Ken the participant would score big. Perhaps I foresaw a time when I would need a lot of help myself. The alcoholism overtook me and I could not work for many years. Everyone can use a little generosity. In the end it benefits ourselves too.

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