Walking With Purpose

I read Scott Sexton’s column about Ken Glazener with great interest because Mr. Glazener walks by my house just about every day and unfortunately I knew nothing about him other than:

  1. He walks alot
  2. He picks up a lot of trash which he totes back to his house
  3. I’m pretty sure he lives in the subdivision behind my house because when he returns from his walks he usually takes the road by our house back into the subdivision.

Other than that I knew nothing about him even though I’d seen him for years. Now I know what he’s been up to:

Most days, he walks upwards of 10 miles along Forsyth County roads with an equally scruffy dog by his side, carrying a plastic grocery bag that he fills with discarded cans and bottles…

Glazener is a retired dentist, “not rich but comfortable,” he said, while recounting one of the many times a kind stranger approached to offer a few bucks for a hot meal…

Some days he starts his walk with a plastic bag in his pocket. Others, he figures (correctly) he’ll find one that’s been tossed and he’ll use it. He recycles bottles and saves aluminum cans until he has enough – 200 or so pounds – to rate a trip to OmniSource, a scrap metal yard off U.S. 52 across town.

“I bet I get 300 cans a week,” he said. “Unfortunately most of them are beer cans. If I thought people were drinking them at home, sobering up and then leaving to throw them out on the roadside I’d be wrong. It’s scary to think about.”

The money he gets for the cans, a few hundred bucks a year, he sends to a scholarship fund he set up at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry.

Since our house fronts one of the roads that Mr. Glazener travels I can attest to the fact that most of the bottles/cans discarded from passing cars contained an adult beverage before they were tossed. For 10 years I’ve been finding empty bottles of a certain brand of vodka and more empty PBR cans than I can even count in the ditch in front of our house. It’s disheartening to know that some of our neighbors are boozing it up behind the wheel and that they have such terrible taste.

Next time I see him I hope to thank Mr. Glazener for his service and for being smart enough to do his community service while also getting some great exercise. Let’s just say he doesn’t look close to the age, 71 years old, that’s mentioned in the article.

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