Monday, February 22, 2010

A social experiment

Since by all appearances, it seems like Major League Soccer and its players intend on taking a break from soccer, I am endeavoring today to do the same. Instead of the usual disjointed and days late ramblings on footie, I am pursuing an experiment that I have long talked about, but never carried out.

The context

The back lane to my abode is well-travelled, as far as back lanes go. Partly this is because I live in a fairly busy neighbourhood, where daytime work traffic is replaced by night time going out traffic, with only a few hours of relative calm in between. Partly it is due to the fact that the main road through the neighbourhood is a one-way street, and travelling down back lanes is a necessary part of getting around.

And last, but definitely not least, it is because the back lane serves as a tributary to the raging stream that is the Great Bottle Return Silk Route. Living within a few hundred metres of a hotel beer vendor/bottle depot, we experience a fair bit of traffic from drunks/entrepreneurs trafficking in alcoholic beverage containers. Mostly they are passing through, but they aren't opposed to further collection in the final stages of their journey.

The experiment

I've always wondered whether I overestimate the extent to which these types travel the highways and byways of the neighbourhood. A too-frequent topic of discussion is how long an unguarded kitty of bottles would last in that lane. Today I will find out.

I aim to test not only the frequency but also the sophistication of these back alley businessmen. The honeypot includes:
  • a mixmatched six-pack of bottles, which the depot will accept, with a word of reproach for failing to correctly organize the case
  • 4 loose bottles, two of which are kosher, two others which are non-traditional sizes from homebrews and will not be accepted
  • 3 loose cans, also acceptable
A savvy bottleman might exchange the rogue bottle in the sixpack for one of the loose ones which is of the correct vintage. Or they might take the whole lot but for the two valueless ones.

The situation

Here's how it looks at 11:40 am. The bottles are no more than half a metre from the rutted snowy tire tracks of the lane.

Seven (7) Half Pints, one (1) Rickards' Red, two (2) Bavaria, one (1) Fort Gibraltar, two (2) non-refundable homebrew bottles

12:40 pm: Situation unchanged. As a further test of the bottleman's mindset, I dropped 55 cents in change beside the box. Does the man who trolls the streets picking up discarded bottles feel that bending over to pick up loose change is beneath him? I fear, though, that the change will soon be obscuring by a thin layer of light snow.

Stay tuned for updates.

2:15 pm: Still no change.


Jeff said...

Lots of time on your hands...

masster said...


J said...

Yes, you're both right.

Lots of time on my hands because I start a new job on Friday, and am enjoying some much appreciated "transition time".

Awesome because it is, well, awesome.

P said...

Not the Sherbie, by chance?

J said...

No, Winnipeg geographer. Not the Sherbie. The Zoo/Osborne, in fact.

Had to pull the bottles because we needed to park a car there. I'll try the experiment again in summer.

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J said...

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