Dear Urban Diplomat: The local vagrant is plucking bottles from inside our gate. Should I call the cops?
Dear Urban Diplomat,
My wife and I built a porch at the front of our house, and we moved our recycling bins to the back. The guy who regularly plucks beer and wine bottles out of our bins on pickup day interpreted that as an invitation to open our side gate and wheel his cart into our backyard. He has scared our six-year-old twins half to death twice already, and my wife’s planning to call the cops next time. I think her reaction is extreme. Sure, he rants a bit sometimes, but he seems harmless, and I don’t want to cut him off from a reliable, albeit measly, source of income. What should we do?
—Conflicted NIMBYist, Parkdale
Toronto’s tradition of curbside trade—in bottles, TVs and glute-firming gadgets purchased from infomercials—is a quaint and effective system built on an implied code: invade my trash bin but not my privacy. Your wife is correct—this guy shouldn’t be in your backyard—but you’re right, too: he’s proven himself innocuous, and his trespass was prompted by your change to the routine. Instead of calling the cops, put the bottles somewhere at the front of the house and lock your gate for a few weeks. The city’s recycling program is complicated enough without the police.
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