Southern Brooklyn

Video: Bottle Collector Clashes With Stop & Shop Worker


Over on this week’s open thread, Supafly10579 asked how to keep the bottle collectors out of her yard. This, of course, spurred a discussion that’s come up a few times before in the comments – i.e. readers think these people are a nuisance.

Someone linked to the video above, which shows one of these bottle collectors locked in a fierce argument with a customer service employee at Stop & Shop. She is being banned because she places labels from returnable bottles on nonreturnable bottles, bilking the store out of money.

I frequently hear that the collectors are a menace, crowding the machines and raiding people’s garbage bins. But they’re also providing a service: by picking through our trash to find the recyclables we’re too lazy to return, the city is spared the cost of processing what likely amounts to a couple of tons a year. Meanwhile, they’re providing for their families (though probably not the Benz the filmmaker thinks) and moving the processing job to the private sector.

That’s a good thing, right?

There’s still the issue, though, that they’re rifling through our garbage and potentially damaging or dirtying our property (garbage, by the way, is considered private property until it’s placed at the curb). The collector cartels also monopolize machines, making it difficult for those of us that do want to get our deposits back all but impossible.

How should the authorities and/or supermarkets handle the situation?

Comment policy


  1. Thank you Ned
    This was something else. I am glad she will not be in stop & shop any more. The bottle room is sure madness.

  2. Earlier this year, I went around to the local deposit redemption centers conducting research about this very same subject, but didn't get around to writing the article. I learned a lot about the bottle redemption “workers” (everyone involved including the people who pick up the cans and the people who work at the stores) and definitely feel for them all. I find it difficult to criticize anyone who finds some value in helping remove the litter that others leave on the street. With that said, sure, they shouldn't replace labels (if that's what she was doing) or go onto people's property (amongst other things), but we have to understand that these people may not have much other income and are trying to turn garbage into nickels. This takes a lot of hard work and dedication.

  3. All that for what appeared to be three or four dollars? The guy at the counter did the right thing by just giving her the money to get rid of her.

  4. There's a whole collective of them every morning on Avenue Y, between East 15th and East 16th Street. They just sit and gather until this giant truck comes along and then these guys (from the few times I've seen, non-Asian) come out and pay them for their bags of cans and bottles. Not sure what the deal is with that versus the regulars at Stop & Shop.

  5. No, I’m sorry, I disagree. It’s not her right to not assimilate, it’s
    her responsibility. It’s not just a disservice to her, its a disservice to
    us all. Someone quoted Thomas Jefferson in another news post, assimilation
    has been part of the American fabric for our entire history. People have
    been emigrating and Americanizing for generations, just look at Ellis Island
    and how big an effect it had on America. When someone moves here they need
    to weave themselves into the American Tapestry, not start their own throw
    rug in the corner and hope nobody steps on it.

    If i’m going to be a tourist somewhere, presuming I stick to the major
    tourist traps I expect them to speak English. In fact, I expect them to
    speak multiple languages, because that’s their JOB. It’s in their
    best interest to communicate with the tourist so they can make money. But,
    I’d also expect to have to learn to use their language if I plan to see and
    feel and experience the best their country has to offer.

    C’mon people, this “no official language” bullshit is really going to far,
    do I even need to bring up that stuff from Chinatown where a restaurant got
    caught having two menu’s

    The only reason we don’t have an official language in this country is
    because politicians are a bunch of tools who are paralyzed with the concept
    that they might lose a few votes (left) and because they know as long as
    these people don’t communicate they can be taken advantage of (right).

  6. You're damn right these people are a nuisance. Just yesterday, all I wanted to do was stop in and grab a family size bag of Ripples, a case of beer and a couple of frozen pizzas when what do I see…poor people! Lots and lots of poor people!

    What right do they have going through my garbage? Thats MY garbage. After having their hands in god knows how many dirty, filthy garbage cans for hours and hours each day, I dont want them then going through my recycleables. Thats disgusting!

    Anyway, how am I supposed to enjoy the summer with my friends, getting drunk, pigging out on junk food, blowing money in Coney Island with all these bottle people constantly cramping my style. I mean, I almost felt bad for a second there.

  7. you didn’t know it is harder for people to learn things as they get older? language is a very complicated thing to learn.

  8. That’s no excuse. I’m not expecting someone to learn overnight, but these
    people are here YEARS and never learn even the barest fundamentals or gain
    any ability to function. If my grandparents could do it so can they.

  9. I respect your opinion. Going to say that in an ideal world, I agree with you about how if someone comes over to live here, that they should make an attempt to assimilate. Again, if she feels like she doesn’t want to assimiliate, then I have the right not to talk to her, and the right to ignore whatever she says. If she wants to depend on others to help her through her life, that’s still her choice. I still see it our right to assimilate and to what degree that you assimiliate.

    BTW, her recycling methods is probably more native to here than from her home country. She is assimilated, but not to the degree where she feels that she should learn English. If she did decide to carry herself as totally as what she was before she arrived, then her whole household would probably be alike to her. Following whatever former traditions and skirting anything from her new country isn’t what she’s doing. More like, taking whatever customs that she holds dear, and trying to make due with her new life here.

    There are many sections in the South, which would debate you on whether French or Spanish is more common there. Hell, even the Native Americans can lay a stake on that there shouldn’t be an official language.

    I guess in terms of travel, you’ve never gone off the beaten path. Backpacking in a country where you might have a limited vocabulary is certainly a trip. Like you said, vendors at tourist traps shouldn’t be limited to their own language. Regular person off the street who lives at the tourist trap, shouldn’t be expected to know all languages, though.

  10. I've seen this woman with her massive cart on Neck and East 19th before.
    I don't think he should have given her the money. He should have opened up the machine (they have keys in case it gets clogged) and checked the top of the pile to see if there was any obvious fraud in the bottles. I'm not sure how they KNOW she was committing fraud. But if they are able to figure it out after the fact then he should have made a reasonable check. I know the machines shred the plastic bottles, and I think they crush the glass ones, but often the labels still keep the glass together so it was possible. If he found proof of the fraud then they should have called the cops.

    This is going to be a very unpopular opinion, but if she's defrauding the store, and by extension the state (that's where the deposit tax goes doesn't it?), then she should pay for her crime! I also wouldn't be surprised if she was an illegal immigrant. I've seen this lady around Ave U for YEARS and clearly she can't speak a damn lick of English.

    It's one thing if you're fresh off the plane, but I KNOW I've seen her here for years. She refuses to learn the language, she's a crook, she should be deported. END OF STORY.

  11. We should have definitely opened those machines and checked for fraud. Even used a computer to digitally reconstruct the shredded and macerated bottles if necessary, because if this criminal mastermind thinks she's going to defraud the state out of a handful of nickels, she has another thought coming! Not in my backyard!

    Like you, I have never committed a crime, no matter how absurdly small, which is why this sort of blatant lawnessness sends me into a rage. We need to step in and stop this trash collecting band of freeloaders and teach them what America is all about!

  12. It's not the “small” crime that makes me angry. Yes we've all done one thing
    or another at various times to benefit ourselves that in the grand scheme of
    things are pretty meaningless. The thing that makes me MOST angry is that
    she's in my country and refuses to learn to speak English. It's not as if
    the opportunity is not there. She can go to one of the countless Chinese
    Community centers that have propped up along Ave U in the lat 15 years.

    Plus, she does this EVERY DAY. I've seen her go up down the streets. I
    recognize her. I've seen her for years. I've given her empty bottles out of
    my car to help her out. She's obviously committed the fraud enough times
    that it was noticed. Seriously, how the frack is anyone going to notice it
    among all those bottles unless it was happening a LOT. It's only a few cents
    to you and me, but for all we know she could have gotten hundreds or
    thousands of dollars illicitly over the years.

    When you're committing a crime often enough and blatantly enough that you
    get caught and that you've honestly caused someone real financial loss, then
    yes, you deserve to go to the pokey, and if you're here illegally, deported.

  13. Right on! I should have changed 'trash collecting band of freeloaders' to 'non-english speaking trash collecting band of freeloaders'.

  14. Don't tase me bro! Tase the chinese women!
    but seriously I was disapointed that she wasn't Tased!!!

  15. my condolences to the poor hard working owner(s) of Super Stop and Shop for their real financial loses. This will make me feel so sad when im stealing stuff in the self-check line (and laughing at the street scum suckers on my way out of the place who have to cash in 100 cans of diet coke to afford the organic arugula sprouts i just yoinked)

  16. my condolences to the poor hard working owner(s) of Super Stop and Shop for their real financial loses. This will make me feel so sad when im stealing stuff in the self-check line (and laughing at the street scum suckers on my way out of the place who have to cash in 100 cans of diet coke to afford the organic arugula sprouts i just yoinked)

  17. Since I was a cub scout, a boyscout, an explorer scout and then went to work for the government, (I also can sing Bobby Goldsboro songs) I have never commited a crime either and have no compassion for this Yoda impersonator. She should go to Jail!!!!!

  18. Since I was a cub scout, a boyscout, an explorer scout and then went to work for the government, (I also can sing Bobby Goldsboro songs) I have never commited a crime either and have no compassion for this Yoda impersonator. She should go to Jail!!!!!

  19. Not you Arthur!!!
    I am supporting you for public office and cannot believe that you would ever commit even the smallest crime.

  20. Not you Arthur!!!
    I am supporting you for public office and cannot believe that you would ever commit even the smallest crime.

  21. Arthur Borko is against people who dont speak english. And if he doesnt like it, well, thats good enough for me!

  22. These people are most likely illegals brought over in the cargo holds of ships. They owe for their passage and the young ones become slave labor, many of the older ones are collecting bottles like this one. They shouldn't be here, and those who brought them here should be prosecuted.

    We talk about toughening up on illegal immigration but every day more people come here after suffering the most inhumane conditions in their passage. It's time to get serious about stopping this. People actually die on the way over, and they are tossed overboard.

  23. Oh, my mistake. I was skimming over the comments and yours stood out the most to me. I was actually replying to your comment.

  24. I love how people always believe in the worst.

    Years ago, I told myself, “thank god my grandparents aren't like the stereotypical Asian grandparents”. But then recently, my grandparents have started to collect cans and bottles. At first, I had no idea whether or not I should have been embarrassed. So when I asked them why they did it, they explained to me that they know what it's like to live off of a few grains of rice a day and how much five cents could've paid for back in the “old days”. “Most Americans don't know what they're throwing away,” they told me, “they don't know what it's like to live in poverty.” And at that moment, I sort of understood why they were doing this. And although my grandparents aren't as … hardcore- I guess you could call it- as the woman in the video, they don't stick the little stickers on the back of the cans, nor do they trespass, but I guess you can understand where this woman is coming from.

    I'm not saying it's justified to trespass or commit fraud. I just don't think it's right to judge people without knowing the entire story and going straight to calling us illegal immigrants and other things like that.

    Brought over cargo holds… really? This isn't the slave trade.

  25. It's a lot more common then the public believes. Of course it's not every immigrant.

    But, all this other stuff aside, do you really expect me to NOT get upset when people move here, legally or not, and refuse to assimilate to MY language and culture? I'm not expecting anyone to drop who they are and never speak their language again, they just refuse to learn. This woman is one example of that. I know she's been here years. I've seen her. So, not only does she refuse to assimilate, but now she's committing petty crimes.

    It's not a major issue, it's a quality of life and principle issue.

  26. Kudos to you, Dee, one of the few on this board with a heart (and a brain).

    I hope you could see through my previous irony and know just how much I agree with you. Too often people try and hide their fat guts behind the flag and point their fingers at those of whom its easy to look down upon, without having the least bit of interest at knowing the human side of the situation.

    I completely understand what your grandparents are feeling. Here in America too, once, was a society that valued self reliance. Cars and appliances were once sold with the understanding that the consumer would, when necessary, complete his own repairs. Things were mended, saved, passed down. When a dollar was earned, it wasnt frivolously spent.

    Its so much harder to show humility and love than to sneer and disinclude.

  27. She does herself a greater disservice more than simply annoying you. It's her right to speak /learn whatever she wants, this is America where we refuse to name an official language. She may not want to assimilate, again that's her right.

    Personally, if I moved to somewhere that has a widely spoken language, then it would benefit myself to learn that. If I want to keep from learning the language, I shouldn't expect that I would get fully translated versions of whatever I hear or read.

    BTW, if you go travelling, do you try to learn the language of the country you are visiting? Do you automatically assume that they should know English? Yes, I'm minimizing this argument, since travelling somewhere isn't the same as living somewhere for years. Who is to say, whether she considers her stay here as temporary?

  28. Sure, it happens but who would expect the elderly to work as slaves? This argument works well for the young. You rather get the money upfront, so if there's an issue during the voyage over, that they already got paid.

    Don't get me wrong, I hate it when illegals make their way to the US and sap the system. But, seeing what is going down in AZ, there might be no happy medium between enforcing illegal immigration and idly standing by while it happens.

  29. They will take the elderly as well. The younger ones are expected to work off the debts for the entire family.

    This sort of thing has been happening for quite awhile, and not just with immigrants from China. Much of the time it flies under the radar, the reasons I will not speculate upon.

    The point is that these immigrants are victimized. Both before they come here and afterwards.

  30. actually i know her, you are an ignorant person, making assumptions. just because she doesnt speak english makes her an illegal? she is actually a legal permanent resident. i know her children and they are naturalized us citizens. is it wrong to bring you're parents here to the us?

  31. You are missing the point. And I am not even going to discuss whether one's status is legal or not in a specific instance. There are, in actual fact, large numbers of illegal Chinese immigrants here. There is no value judgement made in stating that fact.

  32. Xeroxing…

    She must be a freaking mastermind with printing labels. I find it very funny, since I'm picturing the amount of work to print bar codes, and gluing them onto bottles/cans.

  33. What makes me MOST angry about your post is to think everyone in this country has an opportunity to learn English whenever they want.

    Let me start off by saying I'm Chinese. My parents immigrated to the US about 27 years ago and to this day, neither of them speak English fluently. Why? Because both of them worked at least 12 hours every day and at least 6 days a week. The little free time they had were rightfully reserved for rest and family. Through many years of hard work, they're now retired with a nice house and having funded both kids through college. It's not because they didn't want to learn English, they needed to support their family.

  34. Then they should shut them all down.

    Why the hell does NY bother with deposits? Especially since we have curbside recycling. Does upstate have public or private garbage hauling?

    Would be great if we got rid of deposits, instead of adding it on more products. Like the one they added on water bottles this year.

  35. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Don't use that weak ass argument with me. My Parents
    and Grandparents (along with a smattering of other relatives) all immigrated
    to the U.S. just over 30 years ago. My grandmothers worked in fabric
    factories those same 12 hours, my paternal grandfather, and father worked
    with diamonds and gold in the diamond district, then they and my uncle got
    jobs driving cabs (my dad starting in a yellow cab, going to limo service and
    eventually his own car service). My grandfather only quit driving two years
    ago because of his sight! He's in his 70s! My Uncle went to college and
    became a programmer before coming back and working with my dad, had a stint
    owning a cellphone store, had 2 kids, got married (twice) and he's in
    florida with his wife right now, he's got his OWN car service this time. My
    mothers father worked that same schedule as a carpenter before his asthma
    nearly killed him. My mom raised 2 kids, WHILE WORKING AND IN COLLEGE, and
    got a degree and a career that's lasted near 20 years.

    My entire fracking family has worked 12 hour Days 6 days a week and more. My
    dad STILL has to work 6 or 7 days a week because of this fucked economy, and
    you know what? They all learned English. They didn't make excuses about not
    having time. They didn't complain that it was expected of them. They did it.
    They did it because they needed to, because it was their responsibility.
    Don't tell me about reserving time for rest and family. Language is

    I was lucky to grow up in a home that should be the IDEAL for every
    immigrant that comes here. The example I judge everyone on is the one I was
    raised in. I'll never accept any of these half assed excuses about not
    learning the tongue. Nobody is asking them to give up their language and
    culture. WE'RE NOT THE FUCKING BORG! We don't expect people to erase their
    cultural significance. It belongs side by side with ours. What part of that
    don't you get?!

    If you live in this country you need to learn English. Period. This is not
    about what rights someone does or doesn't have. It's about responsibility to
    your community and your nation. It's really just that simple. If you don't
    agree with it, well It's a free country and all, everyone is entitled to
    their opinion.

    Your parents didn't earn English not because they didn't have time but because they don't respect this country or the people in it. They only care about their own comfort and whats easy for them. If they cared or respected this country, and this city, they'd have learned English. But they didn't.

    27 YEARS….

  36. Very few people directly involved like this. The beverage distributors aren't that keen on it, the stores actually lose money on it, in part because of practices such as the ones with the bar codes.

    It does serve a function. 40 years ago, when we were first “aware” of ecological issues the Coca-Cola company accepted all metal cans at their Linden Blvd plant, paying 20 cents a pound. This was done partly as a public relations effort on their part. If you're old enough, you might remember that back then the streets were filled with discarded soda cans. A bunch of us once several weekends going around the neighborhood picking up these cans and after a month we had about 100 pounds. Made all of $20, but it wasn't done for the money. We were trying to do our bit for the environment.

    These people that make money from bottles now do that sort of clean up so that we don't see discarded soda cans or bottles on the streets. Water bottles were added because they were becoming commonplace discard items.

    The people wrote have influenced the legislation are aware of this sort of effect. It sort of mitigates some of the more negative aspects of the redemption program.

    In some towns garbage collecting is contracted out and residents have to pay a yearly collection fee. Needless to say that fee is mandatory for homeowners. In NYC, redemption programs cut the cost of recycling. And NYC is still not operating the recycling program at a profit. Keep in mind that 5 cents does not represent that metal value of a can, or the glass value of a bottle.

    If people wanted to keep their recycling from being tampered with they should separate the redeemables. Bags without redeemables will not be tampered with.

  37. To me it sounds like you were in a different situation. Your grandparents got here with your parents which I'm assuming were at least teenagers which would allow them to go to school and not require constant supervision. My parents on the other hand had a toddler and another one on the way when they got here. I don't know if you've ever been a parent but it's not easy taking care of a child, let alone two. If you wanted a direct comparison, I would be at your parents level.

    In any case, I'm not even trying to compare family history. I was just trying to point out that there are more important things than learning a second language, such as providing for your family.

    There is one thing I agree with you though. This is a free country. And to me, that means no one needs to learn English if they choose not to.

  38. Different families face different obstacles, but it sounds like your family was a nuclear family, so they had the bonus of multiple relatives working different jobs and bringing in multiple incomes, which definitely eases the burden, though not so much perhaps, than what is faced by just a married couple. I mean my neighbors are Mexican and there’s like fifteen people in that household and they all work, except for the mother and two kids, so they definitely have an easier time paying rent and utilities and can cover one another as one person takes off to study, and they can rotate, whereas a couple may not be able to make such sacrifices, especially if they also have a child to feed, cause then that means one has to take time off or possible hire a sitter, which is still costly, even if it’s just your friend’s little daughter,Judy, from down the block for $10/hr. (totally made that one up though :P)

    Let’s realize not everyone is talented at learning languages or other academic skills, which may or may not be needed. I mean I’m Asian and I suck at Mathematics 😛

    My parents both can’t speak English… actually my father used to, but as he’s gotten older, he can no longer speak it, though he can still understand it and do simple responses, so I’m not sure if it’s a part of his brain that’s deteriorated or what. He can only speak Cantonese and Mandarin, and even then his words nowadays come out slurred, as he mixes up the two which is bad, since I can only speak and understand Cantonese and a few words in Mandarin, so long as they are in the right tone.

    My mother’s tried learning it a couple of times after she retired and had time, but aside from being able to recognize the alphabet, that’s as far as she’s gotten. However I know both my parents didn’t have the opportunties to learn it when I was growing up, since they both worked seven days a week for fourteen hours a day with two hour commutes to and fro, for several years (10-12?).

  39. My father told me he saw the regular bottle-collector the other day. He waved her hand to get out of the gated front yard and was showing her all the scratches he has on his car from her bottle-collecting activity. She STILL was coming towards him. He put a garbage can in between them and she STILL came to get the cans!

    We have been sitting in front of the house in the gated yard at times and they OPEN the gate, walk by us, and help themselves! I don't care what they are or where they are from! Stay out of my F**KING garbage and out of my yard!

    I'd like to know if THEY would like ME coming into their yards and sifting through their garbages!?!!!!!! I just have to find out where they live.

  40. Sorry but the only people I am feeling sorry for are the ones who are just recycling a few bottles or cans that they actually used and cannot get near the machine due to the clog of large volume returners. Sometimes a Stop and Shop employee will see me and just walk me into the store with my returns…I guess he sees me as a paying shopper and values my business. I have been to the Amityville S&S and the bottle return room is like a palace….immaculate and empty. Waldbaums is no better. Also, I leave all my recycling in my garage with closed door until the morning of pick up day (I realize not everyone has this option). I look at this as a nuisance issue. I do not want strangers walking in my back yard looking for garbage.

  41. I agree with you. I keep my recycling can in the back yard until the night before pick up. It really annoys me when I hear them at three in the morning going through people's garbage. Also, when I was in Target yesterday returning a couple of things I noticed a guy at the counter returning a huge bag of plastic bottles. It turns out that you can now return your cans and bottles to the store that sold them to you. I'm sure the mom and pop delis just love this.

  42. This could have the result of changing their policy. I hope not, I've gotten some interesting pictures of some of the silly things they sell.

  43. The agency that enforces the Bottle Redemption Act decided years ago that small store owners were extremely inconvenienced by the law. That they are now expecting them to hold bottles is really unfair.

    Raccoons have also discovered that redeemable bottles are a good way of getting some extra income. They look so cute arguing over the bottle machines with the other collectors.

  44. they are all filthy pigs who don't need the money, they are just greedy. I saw a young woman sifting through the garbage for cans and bottles – the bitch was wearing Ed Hardy sneakers

  45. Makes perfect sense. I know lots of people who make 40, 50, 60K a year who supplement their comfortable income in their spare time with can and bottle collecting. $175 a day working at the office is great, but it still leaves me that extra $3.80 short that I really need, so I go bottle collecting!

    And we all know that Ed Hardy sneakers are real pricey and cheap $5 knockoffs dont exist. Those greedy, filthy non-english speaking, greedy, greedy pigs who won't just assimilate. Resistance is futile.

  46. Prostitution would be easier and one works in a less hostile environment.

    (Not that I am recommending prostitution as an alternative income source for bottle collectors, or anyone)

  47. Arthur, you know I don’t like to argue with you on the topic of immigration because you send me in to a flying rage sometimes, but your family =/= everyone else’s family. It’s great that you could grow up in such an environment, but doing what your family accomplished is not easy. I don’t think it’s anyone’s right to tell someone they are less of a human being just because they don’t speak a language outside of their mother tongue.

  48. Eh. My sympathy leans much more towards the bottle people than the ones they anger. Too often people who get angry over these kind of things are just generally angry people, you'll never make them happy.

  49. I'm still amazed, even though it makes so little sense to me. But I guess it's the same sort of anger that makes people think that someone is getting something they're not entitled to.

    The unfortunate thing is that many people are so consumed collectively with placing value judgments on what people do. And create myths to justify their reactions. Not all people who collect bottles are trying to cheat the system as this person has. I know a few of those people. Some of us are just trying to better their lives, one person I know uses the money to feed stray animals.

  50. Thank you, I mean, spasiba for allowing us all to stay in your country. Can I please see your purchase receipt?

  51. Yes, every politician needs all the the “support” they can get, especially some local ones who drive for office, and apparently the smallest of crimes pale in comparison to the biggest ones they will/have/do commit.

  52. You know, this language we call English is made up of words, which you seem to realize — but behind those words there are meanings, real words with real meanings. One day, if you’re interested you can look some of those up.

  53. Better way to put that may be ‘If you’re going to live and work in this country you SHOULD speak English.’

    There is no rule, or law that says you need to, and plenty of people get by just fine without speaking english. Of course, it makes everyones life easier, but America isnt about everyone making your life easier, its about individuality, hard work and merit. Oh yeah, and a thing called freedom. Freedom to live as you wish, speak as you wish, worship as you wish, and the freedom to be left alone and not be told what to do.

    Pilgrims came here in the 1620’s to escape people not very different than yourself who wanted to make everyone worship the same way. They had a different idea.

    How does that saying go, opinions are like what?

  54. Hahaha, I wouldnt say it, its like taking a dump in someone’s house. But, lets see, what can we dig up, oh here we go, you win a brand spankin new Bigot Beater. Remember, when common sense isnt enough, there’s Bigot Beater (R)!

  55. I don’t think the word “bigot” has any place in a discussion of whether or not people should strive to learn the language of their new country. It’s a matter of perspective and the opinions of those involved in the discussion are shaped by their past experiences.

  56. Big ot

    a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion.

    By repeatedly drumming on about how people NEED to learn english, or they dont respect their country, are lazy, are unamerican, should be deported, need to assimilate, etc etc the speaker is being bigoted.

    The idea that an immigrant should not HAVE to learn english is beyond him. Noting that there is no official language in the United States, or pointing out the fact that hundreds of languages are spoken here do not phase him. To him, such a person is a drag on society and has no place here.

    Much more blatant examples of native born Americans who are drags on society do not elicit as many words from him. Ergo, bigot.

  57. The idea that a person shouldn’t have to learn English is not beyond me, I simply do not agree with it. I’m not intolerant of your belief or creed or opinion either, I simply do not agree with it. Disagreeing with a point of view, discussing it, and defending your own point of view is not being a bigot.

    You’re reading way too much into my strong opinion and presuming things that aren’t there. You’re comparing me to religious persecutors but the two situations are 100% different. I dont wan’t or expect these people to give up their heritage or hide it. They are more then welcome to immigrate here (legally mind you) and build lives and live them as they please, BUT they should be required to ADD my language to theirs. It’s hardly the same thing that they should be required to learn how to communicate with their community!

    These immigrants, legal and not, move to America and instead of merging our two cultures to create something new and awesome insulate themselves with the language and culture of their homeland creating a divide.

    In my job as a cabbie I drive lots of different people, many of them immigrants, and it’s really nice when we can talk to each other in English, and use that to bridge the gap between their native tongue and my secondary tongue. They tell me some anecdote in their language and I can tell them one in Russian and we translate to English. It’s a wonderful thing. But it can’t happen when they refuse to talk.

    To give the opposite example, my car service often gets hired by medical offices to drive people home. Occasionally I get a call to pick up from one of the chinese offices and the patients don’t speak a lick of English. They can’t tell me where to take them. I have to call my dispatcher who has to stop answering the phone to call the doctors office (if they even left a return number) to get the address. It makes everything difficult for no reason.

    I would never suggest that anyone give up their culture in exchange for mine, that’s not work New York is about (my views on organized religion are slightly different but that’s a different discussion). Even though it’s not currently the law of the land, I belive that English should be the primary tongue, and if we’re gonna spend money so people can read forms in their own language and can call 911 in Mandarin or French or Spanish, then they should be required to make the effort and learn English if they are going to live here.

    I thought being functional in English was a requirement of Naturalization/Citizenship anyway?

  58. Ok, fine, I apologise. Seriously. You’re not a bigot, but your opinion requiring english speaking can be misconstrued as intolerance, and for many people is part and parcel for xenophobic intolerance.

    One of the things that make this country great is that at times we bend over backwards to display tolerance to others (contrasted often by vulgar diplays of intolerance, I know). It is that spirit of love and acceptance that I would rather see than a dictatorial requirement to learn “our” language. Theres a reason why English is not the official language, and it has nothing to do with Chinese people, or Russian People, or this or that. It is in that spirit of gracious tolerance that it is so. There are many things wrong with this country, but that is one thing thats not.

    Ned, you may have to return the Bigot Beater (R). We have a nice board game for you.

  59. why would you further marginalized and ridicule a poor old lady who doesn't speak english and probably slaved away in the stifling nyc heat trying to earn whatever meager pennies sifting through other people's trash can bring her? She was wrong, but it was done out of desperation, not some malicious desire to cheat the system. That doesn't justify it, but when you see someone in tears, a decent person would approach the situation with some more compassion than that clerk did.

  60. I think the anger at the bottle lady is based on the fact that some of us view her and others like her as useless members of society. She is an annoyance that I don't want to see or hear. She does not add any value to our lives by going though my recycling bags.
    And if she wants to go through trash in this heat it's completely her decision. There are plenty of welfare programs in the city that will feed her and provide housing. If she was really desperate to earn a little income, there are also plenty of minimum-wage jobs avalable if you like heat and trash. However, that would require at least a minimum English.

  61. I was in synagogue about five years ago and said something to a man in his eighties. Then someone came over to me and told me to speak to him Yiddish because he never learned English. So it’s not only the new arrivals. I don’t believe the man I tried to talk to was a recent immigrant.

    What also gets me are the Russians who just don’t want to speak English. People will approach me asking me something in Russian, and when I tell them I don’t know the language, they just switch to English. Occasionally they will speak perfect English without even a trace of an accent. We are in America. Why do they assume that everyone in Brighton Beach speaks Russian? Am I the only one who doesn’t?

  62. thats really depressing that some people prefer to react with anger to uncomfortable situtions instead of showing some understanding. I'm not sure if you are talking about yourself or society in general, but I don't believe condemning a women or anyone in unfortunate circumstances is right. Besides, isn't she doing the more upstanding thing by using her blood, sweat and tears to earn her way in this world instead of relying on equally broke taxpayers?

  63. I don't worry about bottle deposit refunds because we use so few and it isn't worth the time.

    But, we live in a 64 unit building and there is a separate container for those bottles. The super puts them in designated bags and allows cetain of the collectors into the cellar to take them away, on a rotating basis.

    Those who rummage through the bags outside and leave a mess are not allowed access. The collectors know this and it works for us.

  64. I guess I don’t look Russian, because Russians always speak to me in English. Which is weird. Now for 50 points and a chance to spin the wheel tell me which country did the Rus come from. It was the name these people were known by in the 9th century. Answer that questionn and you’d understand why I am surprised I’m never thought to be Russian.

  65. You Know I speak one language, English. And that is not for the lack of trying. For some reason I could never learn another language. My loss, but proof that language skills are not always easily acquired.

  66. If you were plunked down in the middle of Madrid and needed to find a banker, dentist, etc you would struggle but would eventually learn Spanish just to survive. People come over from Russia, Asia, South America, etc and settle in ethnic enclaves in this country that take care of their every care and concern in their native tongue. What’s the incentive to learn English?

  67. As its been pointed out, these people aren't quite useless. The reason these people collect bottles is because people throw them out instead of returning them. In the case of placing the cart and horse in the right order this has been going on here for the past 30 years. People didn't want to return the bottles so they do. Seen in its proper context it's an excellent symbiotic relationship.

    Got news for you. People can't live off of minimum wage.

  68. I remember when I was in school, there were some very smart students who did well in all subjects except for foreign language. Similarly, others found it easy, but had trouble with math or science. I guess foreign language uses a different part of the brain. (I know music and art do.)

  69. Actually, there are American “colonies” in many foreign countries where our citizens live and do not expect to be put upon to learn the native tongue.Paris is one place where you *have* to learn French. Parisians have little tolerance for Americans that expect everyone to know English.But as I am well aware that languages are not a skill of mine I’ll stay here.

  70. A skill not many AMERICANS have.

    Learning a language is very difficult, even for people for whom it is relatively easy. And its true that the older one gets the harder it is to learn anything. You can take ten random people and drop them into a new country with a new language and you’ll have ten different successes/failures at assimilating and learning the language. Its simply not something you can require.

  71. I know in Beijing, there’s a small community of American ex-pats, as well as a community of Russian/Chinese who are mostly mixed in now (they’ve been there since the mid-1900s) to where it’s hard to tell which kids are Asian and not, unless they have obvious traits.

  72. A lot people do want to learn the language of the country they live in. It’s more difficult to them not being able to communicate with a lot of people than it is frustrating for those who can’t communicate with them.

  73. If the bottles and cans are taken out of recycling bin by collectors and returned to the store for money only to be recycled, it seems to me like an activity that benefits absolutely no one except the collector.

    I've lived off minimum wage, it's very simple. Back when it $5.25/hr. You try to pickup all the overtime you can get and don't spend a dime except for neccesities. Live with a roommate. Don't go out on weekends. In fact, in 4 years it took me to get from $5.25 to $10 per hour I already had about $20K saved up in the bank.

    To Nancy:
    It seems all she is doing is breaking the law. She is stealing money from S&S, which in turn raises the prices for the shoppers like you and me to cover those loses. So indirectly, she is stealing from us. There is nothing honorable about that. The regular bottle collector are useless members of society, the ones that cheat the stores are criminals. As a taxpayer I am glad that a portion of my taxes is used to support the ones who are less fortunate. Somebody like her does not deserve the same compassion as a single mother of 3 on welfare or a homeless vet with PTSD and a drug addiction.

  74. You think someone should be deported just because she refuses to learn the language? How ignorant can you be. It’s not that easy for people from other nations to learn a new language, much less for someone of the old lady’s age.

    You have no right to assume she is an illegal immigrant just because she can’t speak the language and choose to collect cans.

    If anything, the ones in the wrong in the video are the cashier, the security guard, the commentator, and even the asian girl. All of them disrespected and laughed at this poor woman’s anguish. The cashier even had the audacity to bow and wish her a happy new year at the end, mocking her as she leaves.

    This video wasn’t about the can collections, but the disrespect shown by ignorant idiots who made fun of an poor elderly citizen who didn’t know the language.

  75. I'm a DJ from London and a big fan of Brooklyn for some reason, come out there every now again to find motown soul music in 2nd hand shops plus half of my family live out there, no idea why I'm telling you all this but anyway, I just wanted to say you guys keep me coming back to this website because of your banter.

    Would I be allowed to say something on this matter?

  76. I think this is the same woman that camps out on my block in Sheepshead Bay with her giant load of bottles. She has sat on my lawn with he dirty bag counting the bottles and when told to move doesnt seem to understand that this is PRIVATE PROPERTY. She has been caught coming onto my property and rifling through my garbage can before Ive put the garbage out on the curb. I think she may live in the apartment of the house next door to me. I would love to be able to stop her from making my block look like a slum and being on my property.

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