Monday, April 4, 2011

Flinders St.

I’m perched on the bench, waiting for you when he reaches into the bin for a coffee HQ bag. He empties out the muffin casing and the crumbs into rubbish. Then with slow and very deliberate movements he begins to smooth out the crinkled and disposed paper. He folds the gusset; he turns in the base and then very neatly folds it into quarters. The precise method is exquisitely beautiful and also sad. Now he chances a quick glance around at his audience before he slips the reclaimed paper bag into his back pocket. There is a little more urgency and a little less ritual as he reaches back into the bin. Out tumble the coffee cups and lids, the leftover pastry and the remnants of a salad baguette. These next bags are folded without consideration but make it – one, two, three, four – into his pockets before he returns to the refuse of the bin. This last dive through its contents is a vigorous rescue and there is no time for delicate origami. He has a fistful of paper as he leaves behind the rubbish for the yellow security of the recycle bin sitting a few meters away. As he approaches it seems perhaps that after all this is a well meaning pensioner merely transferring paper into a disposal unit more suited to its continuing value to society. He has thick trousers, little hair, brown shoes and his shirt has a collar, crisp and blue. However this reassuring image of respectability snaps as he leans his handful of paper bags on the edge in order to reach in with the other hand. It is clear that he is not after a disposable solution for his paper bags. Here sitting in the less infested haven of the co-mingled recyclables is yet another addition for his collection. It is a fine specimen that will perhaps temporarily satisfy his need, his craving, and his desperation for paper bags. This little man, so absorbed with his folded paper reaches into the imagination and shakes words, ideas from my mind. You arrive but I don’t want to notice as I am watching him, stretching to see him fading into the sky as he slowly wanders away.