Can Collecting and The Jalopy

Two summers ago, we lent our beat up Hyundai Elantra to a friend and he was hit by a drunk driver. Our mechanic Nick Velardi* pronounced the death sentence for the Hyundai soon thereafter. Walking back from Nick’s we ran into our buddy Kurt Doiron, who noticed we were bummed. “What’s up guys, everything ok?”  “Our car died, we’re in a real bind now.” Matt explained. “I got an extra car you guys can have! I’m paying insurance but I don’t even drive it.” Kurt said. What fate! And whata guy, that Kurt!

Thus began the era of the 1997 Mercury Sable. It’s a tad beat up but it runs pretty well. (Better than the Hyundai, to be fair.) The only issue is that, once in a while, we need to blast WD40 on the metal mechanisms on the door. Otherwise the battery will die. I don’t know why this is, but that’s what Nick says to do and it works!

Having a jalopy has multiple benefits: low insurance; a ding here or there doesn’t matter; soil and plants in the backseat are no problem. You don’t need to feel bad about leaving it a mess!

Matt takes the car mostly and he drinks A LOT of soda and seltzer. The cans stay in the car until we have a passenger deemed worthy of a can clean up or if we’re going to an event and it’s just too embarrassing to pull up to valet in a car that has 50 soda cans strewn about inside. A fun game Matt likes to play is “Who Gets A Can Cleaning?”, the object of which is to name a person, and then figure out whether Matt would clean out the cans if they were to ride in our car.

Niko on the Job

During a visit to my sister last month, my 7 year old nephew Niko asked, confusedly,  “Why is your car so dirty and broken? Why are there cans everywhere?” Kids have no filter!  Matt, thinking the whole situation was hilarious, responded, “Niko, you didn’t know? I’m the National Can Collecting Champion and I’m saving these cans for next year’s competition. You can win a million dollars!” Niko’s face lit up.

Next thing I know, my sister texts me a picture of my nephew with a huge bag of cans! He decided he wants to make a million dollars collecting cans and he was inspired by…  Uncle Matt! Niko’s also planning his science project around his new ambitious job. He’s thinking of making an app for the project (with the help of Dad). Can providers can link up with can collectors, letting them know when and where they have a collection ready for pick-up.


I’m so proud of my nephew Niko for his ambitious work ethic, being environmentally conscious and for his innovative science project. I can tell he’s a go-getter, even at his young age. Keep up the good work Niko – and keep on collecting those cans!

*Nick’s Station – 7303 Amstel Blvd, Arverne, NY 11692

tagged in cars