Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cardboard!

The experienced long term waeg will have read dozens of peeps talking about the mainly old grandfathers who wander the streets of Korea collecting cardboard. Some of them will use simple pull carts and walk from business to business collecting used cardboard boxes, while some get more tricked out and drive around on ATVs pulling trailers.

They don't get paid very much for hauling all that weight, and I've heard over the years that they are either doing it to get out of the house or are dirt poor. If the latter, they'll usually seek work as taxi drivers, but when that fails them they're out there slogging through picking up stacks of corrugated paper. I'm told there is some civic consciousness attached to it, since this way they are still being productive and giving back to society, having come from a time when working hard actually meant that, not the hardly working that seems to be the case today.  This is also why a lot of old people will go out and farm vegetables, but I digress.

While out walkabout today, I saw two old guys going at it at an apartment complex not far from home. Apparently one dude was trying to grab a bunch of cardboard his relatives had saved for him, but the complex guard was having none of it. It seems the apartment complex can make a little money off selling the odd old washer, broken up furniture, and stacks of cardboard. The guards will keep it neat and clean in one of the maintenance buildings then sell it off when it gets big enough. The old guy collecting it was setting a dangerous precedent, and was being rudely told to piss off. He was having none of that and was yelling back while loading up the cart, which was being unloaded in turn by the younger guard. I would have found it somewhat comical if I didn't see it as being kinda sad.

Being old sucks, especially if you need to keep doing work that like just to survive. I'd guess that this guy was not rich judging by the way he was dressed and the way he spoke, but I've been wrong about that kind of thing before. Still, why all the fuss over some old bastard collecting a bunch of cardboard instead of staying at home sitting on ass?
Time for sleep.

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