This fellow makes $100 a day, collecting redeemable bottles and cans. He emphasized that one hundred dollars was his typical day, not just an especially good one. He works from 7AM to 4PM, six days a week, and sends back $300 a week to Puerto Rico. Apparently he knows the approximate volume of cans that will add up to $100. It’s getting more competitive, he said. In the past, he could sometimes collect his $100 worth by 1 or 2 PM; now he has to stay out until 4:00 or 4:30. After we finished chatting, he scaled the fence behind him to get into the trash in an alley back there.
As I was snapping a picture of a park, this guy bounded out his car, heading my way as it happened. “You didn’t get me,” he joked. “Well, let’s take care of that right away. … Smile!” And so he did. We walked along for a block or so, and exchanged a few pleasantries. There are pessimists and optimists everywhere.
This was the unofficial park that I was photographing when my smiling friend approached.
Good Hispanic restaurants like this are fairly common, but not abundant, in the Bronx. Typically near a subway/elevated station. I look for ones that have both lots of customers and available tables. Most have lunch specials – chicken, rice & beans, and drink for $5 or $6, is typical. The food is always muy delicioso. And it’s fun to see how much of the transaction I can carry on in Spanish.