As I came back to my apartment from class this morning, a homeless man was digging through the Dumpster looking for cans and bottles. This happens almost every day, and honestly it doesn't bother me at all. As I approached the gate he opened it for me seeing that my hands were full, and I couldn't easily get out my key to open it. "Thanks," I said to him.
No big deal.
Usually, I'll go back to my apartment, drop off my backpack, grab a few of our empty cans or bottles, and bring them out. Hey, the guy's at least making an effort. I don't see a problem with that. Regardless of whatever put him in that situation, he's doing what he can to cope.
Today something different happened though.
As I walked past him toward my apartment, I passed two girls who I heard say something to the effect of, "Ugh, why's he digging through the trash?" Here's a hint...cans and bottles can be traded for money! The sound of disgust from these two girls really irked me. Maybe it's because that imparticular man digging through the garbage was actually working to earn money, rather than sitting on the side of the road just begging.
For many, these prove to be a source of income.
I've noticed this a few times. People giving weird looks to the homeless people who dig around in the Dumpster outside our apartments. Yes, I agree that on a typical day, I don't go digging through the Dumpster, but I'm fortunate enough not to have to trade cans for cash. He's making an effort; I'm going to help him out and give him whatever cans I have. If I have an extra few bucks, maybe I'll give him that too. People don't have to respect that sort of lifestyle (I know I don't), but I do respect the fact that he was going his part to earn a buck or two.
Maybe it's his fault he has to live that lifestyle and maybe it isn't his fault. I don't know. I didn't ask. I just said "thanks" before going inside and grabbing some cans.