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The Can Man


I work in a major US factory. We make refrigerators. Four thousand five hundred 
new refrigerators every day. It is a union shop and it's gradually shrinking as 
many union blue collar factories seem to be, but that is not what this story is about.

This story is about one man who works in that huge factory. I've seen him around 
for years but never paid much attention. He always seemed just a little odd. A 
little short. A little dirty. Always the same old red ball cap. And always a garbage 
bag in one hand. He walked around that big old factory on his breaks and his lunch 
time collecting aluminum cans. Day after day, month after month for years. Hot days, 
cold days. Over the years I've followed him as he walked to his old pickup truck on 
the coldest day with snow blowing and everyone with their collars turned up and their
hands in their pockets. He would be there with a 40 gallon garbage bag full of 
aluminum cans. He'd toss it into the back of his truck and jump in and I'd reach my
car and jump in and we'd all race to the exit of this big half empty parking lot.

Today I was working on a broken machine in this factory and the can man came by with 
his bag picking up cans. Our manager was standing there because the machine I was 
working on had been "down" for a couple of hours and he was getting worried that we 
might run one of the assembly lines out of the parts. I was finishing and I stood up 
just as the manager asked the can man what he did with all those cans. I'd never 
thought to ask him that question because I always just assumed he cashed them in 
at the recycle center.

The can man said "I give them to my neighbor, he's epileptic and can't hold a job".

I blurted out, "you mean you've been collecting all those cans for all these years 
to give to your neighbor?"

"It isn't much" he said "but I give them to him. He can't hold a job, he has too
many seizures".

Right then and there in that factory I found myself looking smack at the face of 
Jesus. He was wearing a T-shirt and an old red ball cap and he had a garbage bag 
full of aluminum cans in his hand and it WAS Jesus!

It was one of the most humbling moments of my entire life.

"Dear Lord, I offer my prayer for the can man. I don't even know his name but You 
do. Lord, I lift him up to You. Bless him and watch over him for he is surely one 
of your best foot soldiers. He is a man whose feet I am unworthy to wash!! Thank 
you God for sending the can man to help his neighbor and for the lesson he taught 
me. May I remember it long after today! Amen!"

By Danny T. Dobson


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