It was a beautiful fall Saturday morning and Sam was out doing what he normally did on the nicer weekend days while he was at college. Well, he was doing what he did if he wasn't at his normal job. He was making his way from place to place, first on Frat row, then touring the local student bars. Hell, no, he wasn't drinking. It was nine in the morning. He was out trying to earn another few dollars to put in his college fund. He stopped his little Ranger pickup in the alley behind the first Frat house on his route. He looked around the yard and smiled. The yard was covered with empty bottles, cans and plastic cups. Looks like I'm in luck, he thought. At least this Frat had a nice party last night from the looks of things. He hoped the rest of his stops were as messy as this one. If they were, he would have a more profitable day than normal.
Sam grabbed a couple of large black trash bags and bailed out of his truck. He quickly walked into the yard and bent to begin picking up all the empty aluminum cans. Well, he stepped on them first to flatten them so more would fit into the trash bags that way. After cleaning up the cans in the yard he checked out the trash barrels. BINGO once again! The barrels were loaded with empties. By the time he finished this house he had three large 55 gallon trash bags of smashed aluminum cans.
Sam made his way from stop to stop, frat house to frat house collecting cans as he went. After making his normal stops on campus and some of the party houses just off campus Sam went on to the student bars. He almost had his little Ranger's bed filled with bagged cans even with the cab high racks he built for it. He hit the first bar and found four more bags worth of cans even after he smashed them. Off to the second bar on his route. What the hell??? There were almost no aluminum cans in the dumpster. Had the bar owner began saving them himself? He only found about a quarter of a bag and most of those cans were filled with cigarette butts or other junk so he couldn't use them. Oh, well, on to the next bar.
Crap. This dumpster was almost empty also. Sam moved on. Shit. When he got to the next bar he saw a small body bobbing up and down in the dumpster, throwing cans out of the dumpster into the parking lot. Soon a young woman climbed out of the dumpster and walked around smashing cans then she put them into bags. After the bags were full, she stuffed them into an older car. The trunk was already full of bags full of cans and she was filling the back seat now.
Sam drove up beside her car and rolled his window down to watch her work. She looked up at him guiltily, almost as if she was scared, but continued working on the cans. Sam just watched. After she finished loading her cans she glanced at Sam once again then drove off and turned into the next bar parking lot. She immediately jumped from her car and once again dove into the dumpster.
Sam followed her into the lot and stopped once again. This time he could see the fear on her face. He got out of his truck and she stopped to watch him warily. Sam looked into her car then turned his attention to her once more. He took a deep breath and said, "So, you're the one that's been taking my cans out of the dumpsters. I thought the first bar owner had began saving them himself. Then when I got to the second one and found those cans gone also I began to wonder. You've been hitting the dumpsters off and on all semester haven't you? I've noticed sometimes there are very few cans in them when I check them."
"What do you mean your cans? I've been getting the cans from the dumpsters now for almost six months. How do you get off saying they're yours? They're just going to the dump if I don't take them and sell them."
"I suppose you're right as far as it goes. I guess they're anybodies cans if they get to them first, but I've been picking them up now since I started college almost two years ago. I sell them and use the money to help live on and pay tuition. I only usually hit the dumpsters Saturday and Sunday mornings though, because I work most evenings and Saturday afternoons."
"Oh. Well, I've been doing the same since I transferred here this fall from a community college. I got a partial scholarship and I work most Saturdays and part time during the week at the book store. I can make $40 or $50 dollars a week if I hit the dumpsters Saturday and Sunday. I bet you're why I don't find many cans some days aren't you?"
"Yeah, probably. I'm a little later today than I usually am so you beat me to it today." Sam looked over at the girl's car and said, "You're making a mess in your car with all the leaking cans. Don't you have something to at least cover the seats? I can hardly stand the stale beer smell coming from my truck bed. How do you manage to drive with the cans inside? And aren't you afraid of getting stopped and getting a ticket for all those open containers?"
"They wouldn't. They couldn't could they?"
"Yeah, they would and they could. I know a woman back home that was doing just what you are. Well, maybe not just what you are. She had her back seat filled with bags of empty beer cans and got stopped at a sobriety check point. They wrote her up and she got a hellacious fine out of it. The Judge said the law had no qualifier to excuse garbage bags full of cans. It was plainly written that ANY open alcohol container in the passenger compartment was a violation of the open container law."
"You're just bullshitting me. Aren't you?"
"Nope. Sorry. So, you go to college here, too, huh? What's your name? I'm Sam Donovan."
"Traci Samuels. Yeah, I'm starting my Junior year. I transferred in from a community college near my home when I got a partial scholarship, like I said a few minutes ago."
"Well, it looks like we're going to be in competition for the cans now. I guess I'm going to have to get up a lot earlier to beat you out of them aren't I?"
Traci looked scared when Sam said that. She said, "Oh, please, don't do that. I really need the money I get for the cans. Maybe we can work something out like I get so many bars and you get so many, or something."
Sam stood and looked around for a moment. Hell, he never managed to pick up all the cans. He usually just hit the most popular bars where he knew he could make a big hit pretty fast and get back home. He could work all weekend and not get all the cans from all the bars. He said, "We could do something like that or we could work together. I never manage to hit all the bars before I have to quit and clean up to go to work. You can't get many cans in that car even if you use the back seat like you are. I have a small trailer I built with a rack on it also. We can work the best spots together and fill the truck and trailer then split 50/50 after we pay for my fuel if you want. Hell, it would be sort of nice to have someone to work with and talk to. I get tired of climbing in and out of the dumpsters all the time also. We could split that work."
The two students made an agreement to work together. To their surprise each of them had a couple of places that yielded very well indeed. They usually made around $75.00 each per weekend working cans together. While they worked together they found they became very good friends. They even occasionally studied together. They worked together throughout that fall semester and agreed to do the same during the spring semester after they returned to college after Christmas break.
During spring semester Sam and Traci managed to take three classes together also. They took Sociology, English Composition, and Business Statistics together. They were from similar backgrounds and found themselves drawn together more and more. They both grew up in the country on small farms. Traci's mother worked in town to supplement the family income. Sam's father worked in town and picked up odd jobs on the side. His mother worked on the farm raising broiler chickens in two older houses. Of course his father helped when he wasn't doing other jobs. Traci was working on a degree in Communications. She wanted to be an agricultural reporter. Sam was planning on a degree in Farm Management and Marketing.
Sam and Traci found they became very good friends while working together. Unfortunately, Sam's girlfriend didn't get on well with Traci at all. She mistrusted Traci and complained to Sam constantly about him working and studying with her. Several times during the first weeks of spring semester Sam or Traci caught Barbara watching them as they picked up cans or studied. She and her friends could almost be accused of stalking.
Traci and Sam were in the Library the last Sunday afternoon in early February when she once again saw Barbara hiding on the other side of the room glaring at them. She was surrounded by two of her friends. They made comments to each other then would glare at Sam and Traci once again. Traci nudged Sam and said, "Sam, she's at it again. I think we need to stop studying together or something before she explodes. I don't want to be the reason you two break up."
Sam sighed and said, "Traci you won't be. We've been sort of off more than we were on this whole year. I only saw her a few times last summer and I usually only have one date a week here. Most of the times I saw her this summer I got the third degree and got some weird vibes from her. Now that we're back here at college I'm getting more of the same. She's very controlling and has no trust of me at all.
.... There is more of this story ...