Thank you for The Can Man

This morning I woke up to the rummaging sounds of “The Can Man”.

He is an individual who frequents the alley next to my building in the early morning, foraging through the dumpster for cans to put into a shopping cart which he pushes to some undisclosed location, then returns in a couple days to fill it up again.

I have only seen him a few times, when I happened to be sitting next to my window as he  arrived.

At first, I felt sorry for him, pushing his shopping cart in the dark and cold, digging through other people’s garbage for precious metals.

When I realized I was experiencing pity, I became ashamed of myself.

Pity seems like a blanket soaked in arrogance, tossed over a situation from which I wished to be separated.

Pity felt like a condescending arrow that I was shooting toward  a man who reflected my own fear that I was as vulnerable as he was.

I am.

And the arrow returned to penetrate my own arrogance and shatter it into fragments of compassion, empathy, and sympathy.

I am the Can Man.

I just happen to have a Jeep instead of a shopping cart.

I am the Can Man.

My job of survival is just a lot easier.

The Can Man is me.

The Can Man is you.

We all hunt and gather, don’t we?

I am thankful for the lesson of The Can Man.


~ by leakelley on December 24, 2007.

One Response to “Thank you for The Can Man”

  1. We’re all the Can Man. Thank you for the reminder.

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