The Bottle Depot Man

December 4, 2006

We arrive with a trunkfull of rattling glass, tinning plastic and other sad-faced dead soldiers. The place is in a grungy part of town – resting somewhere between the valve guys and the third-hand junkers. Places like this seem to be popular spots for such establishments. God forbid a recycling facility be located in a residential neighbourhood. The man who starts counting our bottles has a seen-it-all look on his face. He’s seen many people’s dirty little secrets. The three-bottle-a-day Pepsi fetishes. The bourbon hounds who bring in seven cases on a bi-monthly basis. The guy who humps in sixty flats of Labatt’s Blue twice a year. The shopping carts who cash in their finds every day. He takes our harmless water and juice bottles and handles them with an admirable deftness. Gripping three different containers at a time – one can, one plastic water bottle, and one beer bottle – he chucks them into three different containers with a single, elegant motion. I listen to the rhythmic klink and klak of the bottles, and for a moment, I entertain the idea that this man plays the piano. He does not speak to us as he works, but his hands tell us enough. He finishes and scratches the total on his notepad. Gives us our cash – $15.00. It’s less than it should be, but we say nothing. A man who handles detritus on a daily basis deserves a bit of a break. In the car I smile to myself, a piano concerto keeping time with the breaking of bottles.


Author’s Note: This entry marks the first birthday of One year ago today this site was born with an entry called, The Lights of the Avenue. Thank-you to all the readers and supporters of StreetRag for making that first year so very awesome. Here’s to next year, and more to come. –mg

Vignette #138

6 reader comments (closed)



Congrats on the site’s first birthday. Keep it up man.

Dec 04, 2006 • 10:23



Happy B-day Mike.

Don’t stop now..

Dec 04, 2006 • 22:40



Great job on the site, I think you’ve passed the audition.

Dec 05, 2006 • 00:20



I worked in a bottle depot for eight months to buy a guitar. What the customer doesn’t see is the bucket of liquid behind the counter. The bucket holds the last drops of countless juice boxes, pop cans, wine bottles and mini kegs. We’d joke about having to drink the bucket’s contents. We’d dream about marketing the stew as the newest trendy cooler to liquor stores around the city. For all the talk, the bucket sat there. When it got full, we’d take it out back and dump half of it out then put it back.
There are plently of downsides to working in a bottle depot. Most people tend to think the smell would be the worst part. I got used to the smell. The white noise of the bottles was the worst. All the lifers were deaf.
I’d always over-count for the customers. There is no incentive for the clerk to short change. Not at the bottle depot I worked at anyway. Who knows? I know the best part of working there was the bucket.

Dec 05, 2006 • 01:57



Thanks, guys.

Fergis: “The Bucket”. There’s a poem there, I think.

Dec 05, 2006 • 07:26



I rinse all my bottles. I’m an excessively anal-retentive person.

Happy anniversary.

Dec 05, 2006 • 21:26

Streaks, dec 06

Streaks, dec 06



StreetRag is an urban weblog and podcast about the city of Edmonton, which is located in the province of Alberta, Canada. It is authored by Edmonton-based writer, web advocate, and poet Michael Gravel and is updated frequently with written urban vignettes, amateurish photographs, deuteronomous audio material, barely coherent musings and rambling ecumenical treatises. StreetRag is a love letter to a lonely prairie burg struggling with its big city ambitions and small-town feel.

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