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The Can Lady

So this image is interesting to me for a few reasons, so I’ll give you the very brief backstory. This evening I had just parked my bike and was locking it and unloading a package when I glanced down the street and saw this woman carrying a bag of cans in one hand and another enormous bag of cans strapped to her head while collecting additional cans in recycling bins with her free hand. It was quite an efficient operation. As she approached I said hello and she said hello back. Then asked if I could take her photo, mimicking a camera with my hands and motioning to the cans on her back. She shook her head yes, then turned a little sideways so I could get the photo. I showed her the photo on camera and could see in her eyes that she smiled, then offered her a gift card to a restaurant which she accepted and said thank you. I told her my name and asked hers which she told me in such heavily accented English that I don't know it. Then I heard her mumbling or speaking quietly but couldn’t understand it. With a mask I could not see her lips moving. Then it occurred to me...she had been on the phone the entire time I was talking to her and in the middle of a private conversation (there is a headphone in her ear). The look on her face in this photo is the look of indifference...she could have cared less if I was there. She is talking on the phone in this photo. Collecting cans is her way of making money and she was busy at it while talking with someone she knew. This said, what drew me to capture her image, and what still draws me to her is the way she carried that large bag of cans strapped to her head while seemingly effortlessly went through recycling totes, and all the while talking on the phone (and having this random guy on the street bother her). There are so many people in the world doing what we can to make. Isn’t that what we are all doing? Going through our days one day at a time. Doing what we have to to make it in this life.


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