The Can Man And Me

6:45 a.m. corner of 80th and Madison…

There’s a man picking out all the cans and plastic bottles from the corner trashcan. I squeeze around him to mail a letter. He grabs my ankle causing me to almost fall and says, “Don’t even think about it…this is my can.” No, I am not making this up…I look forward to my non-blogging weekends off, but feel it’s mandatory to share this story.

What happened next?

I said, “Please don’t touch me again. That was very rude and unnecessary.” Will Connecticut ever sleep-in for chrissakes? No, forget that his hands were the color of ink and my socks will have to soak in Clorax, if I keep them, till Christmas. His ill-mannered approach was the first thing that came to my half asleep mind, or what’s left of it.

Me being the nut I am, couldn’t help feeling sorry for him and said, “I would never intrude on someone eles’s can, I assure you.” And meant it. Forget I should have called a cop.

As if it was just an ordinary day in the life of Susannah, I continued to the bank to get some cash to treat us both to coffee at Little Nectar.

I’m choked up as I write this because don’t kid yourself, part of me feels like an extreme ass, but the bigger part is happy my heart has so much give. Imagine having to can-collect to put food on your table.

Before he continued on his route, he said, “Thanks lady…I’m sorry I grabbed your ankle. There’s a lot of us you know so when I saw you I just thought…”

“It’s okay,” said I.

Forgive my sudden burst of sanctity, but you do know when God’s in the house.


About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Thanks.
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20 Responses to The Can Man And Me

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    You’re a good egg, Susannah!


  2. Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matt 25:40, The Message)… thank you for today’s lesson, you touched my heart and my spirit. Some preach, some do. Thank you for doing. ❤


    • You just gave me a chill. My reactions to things surprise even me. I should have been scared but wasn’t, just put out by bad manners of all things. I always marvel at the can people because it’s a committed profession. And believe me when I say, you have to collect a lot of them to make a few bucks. Breaks your heart. So I had to throw out some socks…big deal DAF 🙂


  3. D. D. Syrdal says:

    It’s a hard life on the streets. I’m sure he’s rarely, if ever, had someone be kind to him.


  4. In San Diego whenever we ate downtown I would have my leftovers boxed and then I would leave them where a homeless person could get them. It is something most people do in San Diego, I don’t see many homeless here, but I know there are some. It is easy to walk by and ignore them. It is another to actually see them and touch their lives. You did that today, I am the one with the chills. Thank you.


    • It was only a cup of coffee..I didn’t adopt him DAF so I’m takin no bows..but thanks. Glad the homeless are few where you are. I don’t think this fella was homeless, he was just a can-man. It’s a very busy business.


  5. katecrimmins says:

    Just this week a friend was telling me how she collected cans when she was going to college. It was the only way she ate some weeks. They are a dedicated group.


    • They should unionize. You should see some of them with three or four shopping carts filled to the brim working like bees. I see them early en route to Starbucks. How nice your friend only did it for a little while. Thanks for writing.


  6. MJ says:

    Missed your post on Thursday, & am so glad you decided to share this today, weekend not withstanding. What a gem!


  7. You walk the talk Susannah, that’s what life is all about. This really warmed my heart.


  8. MJ says:

    My initiation into the fierce ways of the can people happened very late one night when I picked one up (a can, not the collector) that’d rolled across my path on my way home. I was being green & tidy, & hadn’t noticed this Watusi-sized Rasta in the shadows. But he sure made his presence known, yelling “Yo, Bitch!” as he lunged in my direction. I was so terrified I took off like a shot—no fight/flight decision, yet alone soft words to turneth away wrath. I actually live 12 miles west, so it was awhile before I saw the Watusi again, this time pulling a pair of can-laden carts wired together. Such was my enlightenment. A collector, not a psycho.


    • It’s quite a thriving enterprise. You see them at the Food Umporium turning them into the big machine. They wait in line for their turn to collect, what I’m sure, is a very paltry sum after working so hard all night. I’m sorry you were frightened. Clearly it’s a competitive business. Thanks for sharing your story. Always makes the piece more interesting.


  9. Patricia says:

    You are a good person, Susannah.


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