The shocking story of hot shot Calgarian Ryan Jenkins and his ex-wife, Jasmine Fiore, is a tragedy from every angle. Both are dead. He’s accused of her murder. Yet their story has me thinking of someone else.
It’s the unnamed bottle picker who found Fiore’s body a few weeks ago in California. The picker alerted police then retreated. Even the L.A. Times reported that police located Fiore in a garbage bin. True, but the picker was first to the horrific find. Otherwise, she would just be a missing person.
Like those in L.A., there are hundreds of people in Calgary who make money picking through recycling bins and garbage. No pickers have reported a grisly find here, but their lives are worth a look.
They are citizens who often push shopping carts miles to the nearest bottle depot and collect the deposits. I was jogging in the alley (I like the seclusion) Thursday and kept up with an elderly man on a bike. He had empties in two green bags and told me he’s helping pay for his grandkids’ school supplies. He makes $100 weekly. Another neighbour, again a senior male, walks the alleys each day and says the empties finance his utilities. It’s fine by me. I’m too lazy to return the bottles, so I put them in the alley.
Now I’m warned against this. Our Calgary police liaison officer spoke to our community board and cautioned us against putting empties out — or even putting recycling bins out too early.
He said pickers may get used to finding empties, but if they aren’t there as expected, can become aggressive and move onto a homeowner’s property. Clearly, the police want to avoid a confrontation. There are theft problems in my neighbourhood, so I applaud the effort to protect my family.
For a while I hoarded our empties, but then reverted. My alley empties continue to disappear quietly and without incident. I know little of the pickers. They know I drink plenty of Malbec.
Sadly, for some, these containers form an entire income. When Alberta raised the deposit fee on bottles in June, and included milk containers and meal supplements, it inadvertently broadened the income possibility for the poor and charities.
When it comes to helping provide an income for bottle entrepreneurs, I guess I’ll take my security chances.