Behind: Rubbish in the Back Bay Alleys
by: Leonardo Hochberg

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The view from inside my house to the alley. A man is seen eyeing the recyclables.
A copy of the neighborhood weekly newspaper peeks out of a full container.
John (L) and Mike (R) dispose of Back Bay residential trash. Comparing the Back Bay to other neighborhoods, John mentions, "[the] back doors are here, nobody leaves through the back."
Mike carries an old stuffed chair to the truck. Pocket change falls from beneath the cushion.
John waits beneath the window of 265 for a single bag of trash. This is a weekly occurence. Mike commented, "never fails."
A neighborhood child admires the truck from behind a gate. The playground a few blocks up the alley attracts even more children.
John secures a hook before emptying a dumpster.
Ralph searches for bottles and cans until his cart is full. "[It's] like finding money and picking it up," he says.
John (L) and Mike (R) carrying a particularly heavy set of bags. "If [the homeless] tear up the bags, we have to clean up after them," says John.
Mike operates the "hopper" controls.
Recycling has been around for about 5 years in the Back Bay, but "people are getting ruder," Mike says, throwing a recyclable can into the truck.
Mike navigates a cardboard box. It, too, is recyclable.
Shoes, left among the trash bags. Some residents, like Jackie, feels internal conflict. "Part of you wants to help them, and part of you doesn't want them to go through your trash."
John holds an unused shirt he obtained that day. "Still has the tag," he adds.
Mike searches through a sample of bag containing dozens of CDs and VHS tapes. "Some of the worst movies ever made," he says.
Flaco, not wishing to be photographed, briskly looks for cans. "Sometimes [the residents] give me a hard time...[so] I walk fast." He prefers to do this alone, saying in Spanish, "Soy solamente yo," which translates to "I am only with myself."
Ralph is passed by a man on a bike. People traverse the alleys in search of different things.
Ralph relaxes after spending a few hours collecting cans and bottles. Sometimes he drinks a beer with others before heading into Cambridge to exchange the cans.
Kevin (L) and Ralph (R) relax after their day is ending. It is approximately 10:30 am. Most of the cans have been retrieved, and the garbage truck is closing in from down the alley.
Vinnie, a former garbage-man himself, finds and repairs computer equipment, and knows what to look for. He holds a hand-turned pot which he found earlier that day.
Vinnie prepares to head home on his bike. Many people run a mini-business from the trash.
Pedro relaxes a bit after working since sunrise. "Canning" can provide about $80 per week, according to Ralph.
Ralph exchanges a friendly hello with a resident. "I think his name was Joe... Joseph," he tells me down the road.

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