Friday, August 16, 2013

harvesting life's gardens

Yesterday I went to the local Hallmark store to browse cards. Before visiting Mr. Crawford last November, I sent a rainbow & glitter card to give a heads-up that I'd probably swing by the following week. (Someone here pointed out that card's irony, which I hadn't considered.)

This time none of the cards seemed appropriate. I laughed at "congratulations on your new home", but that probably would NOT have been well-received, so I went back to the in-store post office to buy a stamped envelope for a regular letter.

It was there that I found the rack with gardens-in-a-card. There was a card with flower seeds that had a nice design, but then I noticed a card with edible plants. I thought it would be better to supplement our friend's prison diet - sometimes flowers can be hard to grow.

Prison Garden

I wonder if this card will get through the screening process. I had at least two letters returned from the California institutions - because I enclosed stamps and because I only put initials on the envelope. There was something on the envelope that said it was a plantable card - I cut that part off.

MDC said they reject stamps because of concerns about LSD/drugs/whatever being on the stamp.

Right now I am taxi driving one night a week, and on the weekend/days. This most recent night when I got home, I found a fellow at the dumpster collecting cans. Metal recyclers in the Valley pay a lot for aluminum cans - much more than for regular scrap aluminum.

I had a passenger months ago who told me about the scrap metal industry. He has a middleman who buys all his cans for $1/pound (or $whatever, much more than scrap). He knows that these cans are taken by the trailer-full to California, so that someone can collect on the $0.05/can California Redemption Value.

The passenger was conflicted about it, but since he wasn't screwing the California government personally he didn't think it was a legal problem, for him.

Anyways, the night before the dumpster-diver appeared I was out walking my dog, and heard someone going through the recycle bin. I don't drink canned soda much myself, but my roommate does, and I had been saving these to put out on the corner for someone to find. But since this guy was there, I ran inside, grabbed the can bag, went back out, and called him back. He was quite appreciative.

I know a rather wealthy guy. He told me once that "money really does solve most problems". The problems that financially-secure people face are rather different than those faced by those whose business is searching for cans.

I wonder what I'd be doing if I hadn't found taxi-driving. Truthfully, there are any number of jobs where I'd make more, more consistently, but taxi driving offers the freedom of being my own boss. The big perk, for me, is that I can (and do) meet just about anyone. Connections are much more valuable than dollars.

I've had two passengers that tried their hands at taxi driving. One said he drove 10 shifts, but only made money on three. There was also an employee at the McDonald's drive-through one day who said he'd just started driving for the cab company. It took a few leases before he figured out how to make money - he expected to make more once he got a GPS navigator.

But if you've got nothing going for you but time, searching for cans is probably better than doing nothing.

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