October 28, 2002
I Am the Canman
Many universities have visitors from off
campus who the staff and students come to know. At SDSU we have ďThe Can
ManĒ - a grumpy middle aged misanthrope who has been collecting aluminum
cans for the entire 20+ years Iíve worked there. If you get in his way he
becomes annoyed and heíll give you the curt command, ďStep aside!Ē
For years he was known to many as ďMr. Step AsideĒ though, to me, heís
always been, ďThe Can ManĒ. A few years ago the school paper did an
article about him that was slightly mocking in its presentation. Not
really overt, just hints of derisiveness and smugness that seemed to say,
ďWe're better than him.Ē
I talked to him once about 18 years ago when I offered him some copper
scraps left over from a plumbing job. I thought he could recycle the stuff
along with his cans. Instead, he rebuffed me with comments about not
wanting to be bothered. He said it wasnít worth the trouble and then
walked off without further comment. From his demeanor and the look in his
eyes, I knew I wouldnít be exchanging small talk with him in the future.
Today at Home Depot I got surly with a hapless clerk who couldnít ring up
my purchase. She couldnít run the register and kept the line waiting until
she gave up and sent all of us to the back of the lines at other
registers. I ended up making a sarcastic comment that I should have kept
to myself. Nothing too hostile but enough to tell me that in situations
like that, Iím just another Canman.
May 7, 1966
Sometime I think I really am a unique person. Iíve never seen another
person like myself. There are times when I feel I just have to be alone. I
get the feeling that if I canít get away from people Iíll bust. Usually
when I feel in these moods I take a walk and go down to the beach but now
I canít even do that. People, people, people,. Wherever I turn I find
someone else. Thereís no place to go where I can feel Iím totally alone
and I donít have to worry about somebody strolling by and starting some
stupid conversation. This is where I differ totally from other kids. They
always have to have a friend go along with them when they go some place.
If they canít get someone to walk with them down to the store or to school
they wonít go at all. Iím happy when I can walk down the street and I
donítí have to listen to some friend yakking about his stupid hobby.
Just for example I walked down the beach the other day with Kirk and he
talked about his comic books, kids at school, sports, girls, then when I
try to say something that heís not interested in he interrupts me and
starts talking about something else.
Nobodyís really interested in hearing about someone else, they just want
to talk about themselves and nobodyís interested in hearing about them so
whatís the use of talking. (Confusing isnít it?)
Sometimes I think thatís why my friends like me, because I always listen
to them and I donít try to bore them with my thoughts.
Father tried to talk to me tonight and Iím still not sure what point he
wanted to get. I know he feels a little guilty about us not being like a
real father and son. He always has to go to work and he doesnít have time
to do much with me. Actually kids now days donít get to know their fathers
as much as they did in the past.
Itís been kind of a full day for me. First of all I went skin diving and
thatís easier said than done. I had to get all my equipment and material
then drag it sown to the rocks. The beach was really crummy. There were
rip tides, the sky was cloudy, the surf big and the water was freezing.
After fighting to get out past the rocks I went through a few dives and
realized it wasnít much use. I couldnít see two feet in front of my face.
Next I found it was a little harder to get back to shore than it was to
get out. I had stupidly inflated my May West vest and now every time a
wave I couldnít dive under it to avoid being battered to death. This plus
the fact that I had an inner tube made it even harder. After ten minutes I
made it back to shore thoroughly exhausted. Maybe in Japan the skin
At 7 oíclock Pat, Kirk and I went to a movie called Father Goose. It was
After reading over what I wrote about other people and how they always
want to talk about themselves I want to make one thing clear. I include
myself in this category of people otherwise why would I be writing these