Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Manventures: Deadliest Cans Part Deuce

And so the epic competition begins.

Frank Cutie agreed to the challenge, under the conditions of a bet; the opposing party to score the largest haul, in terms of monetary value, would win the other's cash. He calls himself “a gambling man”. Well, just to let you know I have a gambling problem. It really is an issue, and you’re the enabler, Frank! Shame on you. I accept your terms because I’m ill!

After my last class, I prepared a battle plan to pull a quick lead over the Catfish. More or less, I wanted to wear the proper attire. I concluded to wear warm, thick clothes (a sweater, a snow cap, and my awesome gloves that look like a muppet) and wearing my handy dandy headlight to help in the excavation process.

I would also need a mighty vessel to transport our plunders. The day before, when first negotiating the challenge with Frank, I happened upon a red spray-painted price chopper shopping cart pushed over neglectfully on its side near my house. I ran to it, and tipped it back on its side, and I felt like luck was on my side and knew it that this bet was a good idea.

Or some kind of demonic crimson red shopping cart which refused to lose. I very well should have gotten rid of it; one of its wheels were busted and dragged on the cement walkways, making a horrifying scraping noise like fingers running over a chalkboard made out of sand paper while a chorus of demons ran their fingers over the surface of a stretched balloon. Yea, it was that grating on the nerves.

 A friend presented me with a superior Home Depot shopping cart, and I refused to take it. It didn’t make any sense at first when explaining why I liked my shopping cart better; the Home Depot cart was twice the size, very sturdy, and orange, which possibly could be helpful in promoting proper traffic safety.

I didn’t want it. All the reasoning I needed was that “it’s badass”, if I remember stating correctly. (And by the way, its name is Epyon now. Thanks Justin for your vote! I think its appropriate because both the Gundam robot and the cart look sweet, and they’re both red.)

I knew if I wanted to be successful against the hardened veteran, I would need more than just a rad shopping cart. I would have to employ a crew as tough as nails as I was. My usual partner in shenanigans ze Grif served as my first mate. The arch-nemesis that lived under us, Dave, decided he would photograph the opening ceremonies, which included coming up with pirate names for each other (I’m Cap’n Crunch and ze Grif is Peg Face. Why does he need a pirate name when he’s already under an assumed name? Because everybody needs a pirate name, naysayer. Dave didn’t want a pirate name or his picture taken. Such an elusive arch nemesis. I’ll catch him next time.) and then followed us as we ventured into the heart of the menacing urban community.

At first, we had our concerns about the whole premise of the venture, and these doubts did deter our first attempts at collection. We were nervous about getting into the recycling bins, flinched at every move, and after the first several unlucky recycling bins that some other connoisseur of cans had already beaten us to the punch and only left the rift raft of recyclables that were not valued in New York (I’m looking at you, Arizona Iced Tea, you delicious betrayer.)

However, after our first find, we built the confidence that we needed, like a Disney sports film, and started getting our hands dirty. I called our technique “conscientious shifting”, that if we didn’t see anything worth while we wouldn’t tear into someone’s garbage, for hygienic and courteous reasons. If we did hit a good recycling bin, we’d take a mental note of what the garbage set up looked like, go to town and conjure up any profitable recyclable we could find, and then replicate what the garbage looked like before we dug deep.

This process took a bit longer, but I think it was worth the effort since we didn’t get punched in the face for throwing garbage all over the place.

Over the night, the crew only got into two confrontations. The first was with an elderly couple, and the spat tore at ze Grif’s heartstrings. As we systematically shifted our way through the recycling bins in the neighborhood, one elderly man approached Jesse asking him “not to touch his garbage.” Concerned, I walked over and heard the man again plead to leave his garbage alone. I assured him neither of us would touch his garbage, when his wife, a woman similar in age, stated in an assertive and quiet manner “We’re too old to pick up what you throw all over the place. Please leave.”

We walked away, and ze Grif felt a tinge of remorse for our actions today. Sure, we did not abuse the old people, but we were taking away from a limited commodity neither of us really needed besides a way to amuse ourselves on a Tuesday night.

“Over two hours”, ze Grif calculated, “We might make five dollars. This doesn’t feel right.” I reasoned that this was a homework assignment, and even if we didn’t need this money we could put it to good use, unless Frank won it, then ze Grif should feel worse because then the two of us took away these precious recyclables for nothing. This encouragement, and Dave’s boredom of hearing us contemplate our devastation on the can economy, motivated ze Grif to strive to win this contest. For the little guy. And for me, since I didn’t want to lose and I’m a cold hearted bastard.

The second confrontation was not with a person. I kid you not, I was shifting through a recycling bin and saw a peculiar bottle in the holding. As I went to investigate it, a god damn opossum which had nestled in between some of the garbage bolted out and started to freak out, running back in forth. I reeled in horror and screamed. Dave and ze Grif had a good chortle at my expense, and then took a picture of my assailant.

That beast would have done some damage! I’m still shaking, hoping it doesn’t remember my face.

Overall, the first night was a fun endeavor and an eye-opening experience. HOWEVER, I will not be posting how much money I accrued yet, (is it more or less than five dollars?? Who knows?!) since Frank might be hot on my trail and I don’t want him to know if he should pick up the pace.

To be continued.


  1. think of all the homeless people out there that rely on these cans for food. Perhaps if you don't need the money you should donate it to a homeless shelter and explain your homework assignment. You could print out your story and show it to them. I like your writing, it makes the story fun.

  2. Ha! Priceless. An opossum! An interesting thought you had on the can collecting, a limited commodity. Either way, you are still helping to recycle. Thanks for the laugh today, I needed it.

  3. Playing possums with a possum. Possumly?