“I am lucky.”

I just met a man who told me he was lucky.

I found him outside my house, collecting tin soda cans from the recycling bin. He was a short Asian man, wearing a green poncho to protect himself from the driving rain. I asked him how it was going. “Good,” he said. “Lots of cans.” I thought I had more in my garage, so I went down and, moments later, returned with five or six more. He was very appreciative.

“Job market is bad,” he said to me in halting English. Then he rolled up the bottom of his pants to reveal too long incisions atop both knees. “I needed this surgery and I lost my job.” He had worked as a cook at a local Chinese restaurant. His hours were cut. Then cut again. Now he drives house to house, gathering cans. I felt horrible for him. Perhaps he could tell.

“I am lucky,” he said.


“I have four children. Six grandchildren. They are all doing well.”

With that, he gathered his cans, returned to his battered car and drove off.