My truck, a nine year old Ford Explorer, was stocked with all the empty plastic bags I would need and half a box of latex gloves.  I snuck out the back door of my office, off to the park for my latest lunch ritual.

I guess I should mention that it is late summer 2002.  I had moved to Phoenix from Philadelphia for the second time (I’m not sure if that says more about Phoenix or Philly) almost a year earlier, my son is about 9 months old, and I’ve been exploring just about every avenue I could think of to bring home a little extra money.

A few months earlier I had driven around in a pick-up truck stealing wooden pallets from construction sites, hoping to sell them to any of the businesses in the less desireable parts of town that (I was told) would pay $50 per pallet.  On my first trip I had collected six such pallets (that’s $300), but when I tried to sell them, it was pointed out to me that two of them, which were blue, were the property of the Phoenix Police Department, which made him leary about purchasing the other four as well.  I got a similar response at the two other establishments I tried, and finally just pulled over to the side of the road, and heaved them over the side of the truck when no one was coming.  Dejected and (in my mind) $300 in the hole, I looked for a new scheme.

I drink a lot of soda.  It was more of a revelation than a confession, and it would be the source of my fortune.  At that moment I decided to use my lunch hours, and any free time collecting aluminum cans, and taking them to the recycling center thereby claiming my “bounty.”  Okay, maybe fortune was too strong of a word earlier, but I actually remember thinking, that if the can thing would just take care of my mortgage each month, I would be in great shape.  DOUCHE CHILL!  Why it didn’t occur to me at that point, that I hadn’t seen any news stories recounting the decrease in homelessness thanks to tin can collecting, I don’t know.  Let’s just blame it on sleep deprivation…  or 9/11… or the Teamasil.

Anyway, three weeks and two bee stings later, every cubic foot of my Explorer was filled with the aluminum refuse of South Scottsdale, so I decided to head to the recycle center and CASH IN.  On the way there, I passed a shopping center that appeared to be a target-rich environment, so I pulled in.  As I was scrounging through the trash cans, I spotted a recycling machine in the corner of the parking lot.  BINGO!  This will save me a trip to the center.  I followed the instructions on the side of the large white machine, and deposited the contents of my SUV.  This was truly a win-win day for yours truly.  I felt good about recycling these cans that were simply cast into the trash, and I felt even better about getting paid for it.

The machine finished it’s gyrations a few minutes after accepting the last of the cans, and I will never forget the sound I heard next…  clink-clink-clink-clank.  Three quarters and a nickel dropped into a tray to my right.  I walked around the machine frantically searching for the spot where the bills would come out.  I found no such place.

For the past three weeks, I was sure that people saw me, laughed at me, passed judgement on me, but I didn’t care.  I would be the one laughing when I launched my new boat, the Can-Do, that I would be able to buy before the end of the year thanks to this latest enterprise.  I even remember feeling the slightest twinge of guilt that I was taking booze out of a homeless man’s mouth.  But my boat disappeared with that clink-clink-clink-clank.  And I suppose any environmental empathy sunk with the Can-Do as well.

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2 Responses to “Can-Do”

  1. Bob you are so funny! When is the first book coming out. I will be the first in line to buy it. You always seem to make me laugh whenever you tell a story about yourself. I could just see you walking around looking for the bills. SO HILARIOUS! Miss you and hope to hear some more good stories.

  2. Hello,
    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.