Bottles to America

Foto: dpa via 

When I was standing at the  train station a few days ago, waiting for the suburban train, I watched an old man, about 70 years old. He was well dressed and had a friendly expression on his face – he reminded me of my grandpa. The man glowed into the trash cans on the platform, presumably because he was looking for deposit bottles. Joyfully as he found two bottles, I went to him and gave him my empty bottle. He thanked me and gave me a hearty smile. In the same breath, and without addressing him, he said clearly, “I’m not homeless.” I told him I didn’t expected that but just wanted to make him happy. I did not ask for the reasons, because I was actually in a hurry, but the man seemed to want to tell me his story, so I took my time. In the meantime, I am very happy about it. For what he then told me almost made me cry.

“Do you know young lady, have you ever been to the USA? Yes, probably! Me and my wife haven’t , but it is her greatest desire to travel to the country of unlimited possibilities. She has already taken a special English course and is reading a lot of books about thecountry. Once along route 66 or a trip along the west coast, that is her greatest wish!

Unfortunately, I have never been able to fulfill this desire. When we both worked, we had hardly a long time to travel and if you ever fly to the other side of the ocean, then you want to stay there for a while. Now that we are both retirees, we can not afford it. We saved a lot of money years over years, but we also need it for our everyday life. Soon we will celebrate our golden wedding and even today I love my wife the way I did when I met her. We are still well and have a clear mind. At our age we do not know how fast this can change. In order to fulfill her dream of America, I am collecting deposit bottles almost for two years now. Every day I go collecting telling my wife  I go to sports. Then I go to the train stations, walk through the pedestrian zones. At the end of my tour, I bring everything to the pawn machine. It’s always different how much I collect. Sometimes 2-3 €, on average 5 € – there are days on which it is even 20 €. In the meantime, I’ve collected more than 3000 euros through deposit bottles and along with other money I’ve saved, I’ll be able to fullfill my wife’s dream with our Golden Wedding in the autumn. Until then, I will diligently continue to collect.  Do you know, even if I had to collect these bottles for 20 years. The moment I see my wife smile makes every second worth it. For your great love you’d do everything.

On the one hand, the story made me very sad. He had been working all his life and yet he and his wife could not fulfill their wish. This is a problem that retirees often experience in Germany. On the other hand, it touched me so much that this man, day by day, roamed for his wife in the dirty rubbish bins of this city to fulfill her dream. It is so nice to see that after all these years, they still love and appreciate each other so much. Therefore I hope the man collects enough money for his wife so they can both take  this trip to America healthy.

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