Thursday, March 21, 2013

Inspiration Can Come From the Most Unlikely Sources

The past few years, I have befriended an older man who goes around the neighborhood collecting cans from people's recycling bins.  He drives a beat up car that is usually filled with cans and other assorted "treasures".  On the surface, he probably looks kind of sketchy to the average person.  In fact, I've had some neighbors ask me, "what's the deal with the weird guy who's always looking for cans?"  Well, for some reason, I love him.

Most people probably think he's just a homeless bum who is trying to feed a drug or alcohol addiction.  And I'll admit - I kind of thought that when I first saw him back about 5 years ago.  But for some reason, I started talking to him one day about 3 years ago.  Even though he may look a little off - he is one of the nicest, most down-to-Earth, and inspirational people I have ever met.

Here's some of the things I have learned about him in the past few years:  He doesn't have a drug or alcohol problem - or if he does, he is treating it with sobriety - He's just says he doesn't drink - and in all my times talking to him, he doesn't seem like he's on any type of drug.  He's always focused and knows what's up - but he does have an element of natural kookiness to him.  That's why I like him.  He actually has a job (most likely close to minimum wage - given what he told me it is) - but supplements his income by collecting cans.  He's a Vietnam vet and has "saw things that he does not care to share."  He doesn't use VA services because he doesn't want to take away funds and services from other veterans who might actually need them.  In fact, he doesn't receive any government assistance (and never has) except for recently - when he turned 65 and became eligible for Medicare.   He would have liked to stay/re-enlist in the Army after Vietnam, but the country pretty much told most soldiers to take a hike.  He goes to church every week - not because he's some religious freak, but because he is thankful for all he has and someone greater than him must have given that to him.  He lives in a house on the other side of the neighborhood - not in a shelter or tent in the park.  He never got married and never had kids.  He considers himself lucky because he has never been really sick or had any major health issue.  One time I asked him how is was and he replied, "I have my health, that's all I need."  That's a very interesting thought.

I guess it's just nice and refreshing to see and talk to someone who is relatively happy and content with not having much.  I've never heard him complain.  Sometimes I'll apologize to him for not having any cans or bottles and he just laughs and says, "Don't be silly."  He thinks I'm an "angel" because I put any redeemable stuff to the side for him.  One time, someone else stopped to get my cans and I wanted to go out there and yell at them - but I realized that would have been really odd.

The point of all this babble I guess - is if we judge people by what they have or what they don't have - we might be missing out on talking to some really incredible people.


Kris said...

This made me really happy...

Sue Rogers7 said...

Thank you for this post, it made my day. Kudos to you for giving him a chance.