At the Airport

6 September 2007

They make their livings out at the airport, scavenging recyclable material from the trash containers which are dedicated to aluminum cans and certain kinds of plastic bottles, for later resale. A small group of people seem to work the same terminal. You spot a young asian woman, an old man that looks like he’s hardcore homeless. Another rather non-descript guy. Like ghosts they drift thru silently and alone, treading routes that cross repeatedly, though they don’t seem to make or seek contact with each other. Each place in the terminal they stop at they examine the contents of the recycling bins, discretely but matter of fact… turning the bottles over or around to see what the symbols are… micro-experts in the rules, regulations and logos of this strange detail of the consumption economy.. each with large laundry bag on wheels, one with a large shopping bag from KaDeWe, in which to gather their spoils. It takes you a while to even notice them as distinct from all the other passengers, meeters and greeters – but once noticed these curious itinerant workers are shadows that its hard to ignore, you see them more and more. Like background noise/buzz or the fact that a movie is out of synch – once recognized you cannot stop from noticing and you wonder how many other people around you in the crowd are also players in some not-yet-noticed sub-economy. What gives them away in fact is the repetition – their grazing/paths which take them back around in a parasitic cycle from one place to another and back again. Everyone else here only comes around once – one trip to the toilet, one to duty-free, one to the café or electronics store. These scavenging ghosts are on rails however, always cycling back to the same places. Hoping to be the first to get there just after someone drops another useful/resaleable item.