If you’ve ever spent your working hours navigating a gray cubicle maze or strangling yourself with clothing hangars at a retail job, just about anything seems like a valid career alternative. Even, we’ll admit to daydreaming, joining those guys who pick bottles and cans out of your apartment trash every morning. Fresh air! Exercise! The thrill of the hunt! Maybe it’s a little messy, but we had to look at dead bodies at our last newspaper job, and you can’t turn corpses into nickels. Walking to work one day, I wondered whether those humble trash pickers are really laughing their way back to new properties in Taipei. So Peanuts Daily decided to find out for itself.
Armed with the only granny cart we could find, a handful of empty trash bags and a few hours to kill, we hit the streets of Taipei at 11 a.m. on a hot Thursday in August. The first few buildings on our block alone suggested a fruitful harvest, despite the disgusted leers from neighbors and passersby who seemed to be, judging by their faces, slightly reviled. Or maybe it was just their concern that trash picking had become the latest breaking trend among the young Asian males of Taipei, right up there with Dumpster diving and boat shoes. About a half-dozen residents had separated out their redeemable into plastic bags.
Three blocks down, the easy access to trash cans in front of the apartments meant that soon our cart was filling up quickly. It doesn’t take long to become an expert at what to take: any water bottles counts (and you drink a lot of them in Taipei), as do sparkling waters and energy drinks—basically anything that isn’t 100 percent juice. Xinyi had a lot of Taiwan Beers on this particular day, and a lot of wine bottles, which were no good to us
The only direct competition we encountered came from an elderly lady who paused in her trash-digging as we passed by with our lush cart and followed us with a narrow-eyed leer that penetrated the cloud of stale beer and hot sugar water. As we kept moving down the block, it became clear she had beaten us to the punch on this side of the street. We were tempted to yell ”Don’t worry! We’re just tourists!” to assure her we weren’t a threat to her income, but we didn’t want to scare her even more.
We finally cashed in our afternoons work totaling a 12,000nt for 2 hours work. This would have been an hourly wage of 6000nt per person but really it was one-man job, which is well above the average CEO wage in Taiwan. Although a dirt job, it was interesting to see how much you can really make: plastic bottles’ collector makes more money than a CEO.[See 3 related articles about CEOs and business ideas: Samsung CEO Gay, Taiwan love motels and Taiwan pimp]
Author: Mr. Litoreagh, Michael.