I am running errands to divert the nervous energy that has arisen from the fact that I’m defending my thesis tomorrow. Yesterday, I went and returned some bottles to the Beer Store. When the Beer Store started collecting bottles a few years ago, it inadvertently spurred the development of an alternative or informal economy, at least in urban areas. It’s pretty common to see bottles on the curb, waiting to be picked up, but sometimes I go return bottles and take the 50 cents and go to Starbucks. The people who would otherwise pick up the bottles are likely on some kind of social assistance and look for an alternative source of income – because if they find a job in the formal economy, their earnings are taken out of the limited funds they get from the government.
These people remind me of the fourth chapter of my thesis, which is about a re-adaptation of the Gospel of Luke called El Evangelio de Lucas Gavilán, a re-adaptation of the Gospel of Luke in 1970s Mexico that I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog. In this novel, Jesus’ apostles are pepenadores, or garbage-pickers, a marginalized community in Mexico City. If this novel were set in 2012 in Toronto, I wonder, would the apostles be the people who pick up the bottles I am too lazy to return? At the same time, if we idolize this group and inscribe these meanings on them, as if they were not people in their own right, does that prevent us from seeing these people who carry heavy loads of bags and bottles as people?