• Beware The Recyclers!

    June 7, 2024
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    Prelude to a hangover (X screencap).

    We've all seen them: bedraggled, usually male, usually emaciated, beady eyes surveilling the cityscape for plastic, aluminum, and glass. Recyclers can be found rooting in trash cans and tearing open bags left out for sanitation workers.

    Often they tie bulging plastic bags to creaking grocery carts, taking up so much space that pedestrians have to squeeze by or step into the street. They are part of the urban environment, a species most closely related to the pigeon: both gather what is discarded in order to survive.

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    Taxpaying New Yorkers and Recyclers observe an unspoken pact: mutual tolerance. We appreciate that they are desperate, and on some level, we admire the hustle. It doesn't look easy to make the rounds in good weather and bad. So much work for a mere handful of change from a CoinStar machine. So we move out of their way.

    The gentleman in the video above, presumably on his way to work, broke the pact. His first roundhouse was deflected, the second one missed, and then he took a 750 ml smash to the skull. Remarkably, he wasn't knocked unconscious.

    It's the curse of the video age: we have no way of knowing what transpired before the fracas. We have no way of knowing if Zinfandel Zorro is in fact a Recycler. Perhaps he is simply homeless, or one of the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants dumped so abruptly into our painstakingly balanced midst.

    That said, consider the encounter above a reminder to maintain situational awareness.


    • speak when someone is recording you on their phone
    • get too close to a homeless person, even when giving them money/food
    • forget there are CCTV cameras everywhere
    • use a Starbucks bathroom
    • leave the house during cultural parades or SantaCon

    Let's be careful out there!

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