Friday, April 11, 2008


If you've ever been to the beach you've seen those old guys looking for cash or other valuables with an electronic metal detector. They're usually up early in the morning before the crowds arrive.

Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn has its own version of the beachcomber. He's a middle age latin guy with a long, sturdy string. Attached to the end of the string is either a piece of chewing gum or a magnet. He has both, it seems.

He's out on Smith street all the time, fishing for coins and other valuable stuff inside the subway grates. It's about a 6-10 foot drop and he doesn't just fish. He looks first and if he sees something that might be worth a fishing expedition, he unravels his thin cord and tries to yank up the goodies below.

Last week, after silently watching him for months, I decided to approach the disheveled looking character. He was polite enough. I asked him, "what was his biggest catch." "A really expensive diamond ring," he told me. But, he's also found 20 dollar bills, wallets, and watches. How in the world does this stuff get down there, I wonder. "Drunks," he replies. It seems his best catches are outside bars, where uncoordinated, disoriented patrons often reside.

What's this guy do in his spare time besides plucking valuables from the subway grate....fishing. Really! Hook, line and sinker.

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