Wednesday, September 26, 2007
This morning, I heard an unusual amount of noise coming from the garbage containers behind the building. I peered out my kitchen window and saw a strange man methodically pawing through the trash, opening every bag and withdrawing the contents by handfuls. I recognized paperwork and other things I had discarded from our apartment. Most of it went back into the large plastic bins, but certain items he placed in his own bag.
I watched for several minutes, unsure of what I was witnessing. Then I decided to ask him nicely, in Spanish, if necessary, what he was doing. I opened my door and headed for the back stairwell, where I was stopped by a woman who seemed to be dusting doors with a feather duster. She apologized for the "noise" she was making and I said, 'Oh, that's ok," and slunk back into my apartment, embarrassed.
Identity theft is epidemic and it worries me that someone may be targeting us. We are not wealthy. They would not get much, but what they got could make the difference between life and death for us, between living indoors or not. We don't have much of a cushion, and asking relatives or friends for help is out of the question. We wouldn't do it.
Chances are, these people, who clean buildings for a living, are simply trying to supplement their wages with items they can sell. I won't report them to the management company because as janitors, their lives are already very hard. Perhaps they are illegally in this country. I would not jeopardize their existence by getting them fired from their job, which probably includes cleaning all the buildings under the same management, not just this one.
But I will buy a shredder. And perhaps next Wednesday, I'll bake a batch of cookies and discard them in an airtight Tupperware container.