It’s and adjustment to have people dig through your trash: to see them come as you go inside; to see the garbage men stop to dig through; to simply realize that even your true trash–things that cannot be recycled and are despicable to you–is still someone’s treasure. And that someone is not one weird person that has an odd fetish; it’s the community that lives among you, and it’s out of poverty.
It takes an even greater adjustment to walk outside and hand your trash bag directly to the mother who has met you in the street. She has come, with her baby in one arm and the other outstretched to receive the bag. She smiles broadly.
She is entirely unaware of the social faux pas this is. She is entirely unaware that this is even odd or uncommon or disturbing.
Culture runs so deep within us, it’s actually quite difficult to separate ourselves from it. Her culture is so accustomed and free to seeing trash as opportunity, she can’t imagine that I would be uncomfortable. And I am so uncomfortable, I cannot imagine that she can feel none of this awkwardness, nor can I explain to you the extent of her nonchalant attitude.