We get a lot of weird feedback here at City Paper. But I'm pretty sure we've never been offered a tub.
Two weeks ago, staff writer Isaiah Thompson brought you "Living Off Scrap," our cover story about Greg Loper and Ron Jordan, two scrappers busting their tails to make an honest living in a vocation that's becoming known as anything but honest.
With the price of metal escalating, scrapping has been on the rise. As has metal theft.
But despite that, and despite the fact that Loper and Jordan admit they've made mistakes in the past themselves, a funny thing happened after we ran the story.
Thompson found himself in the unlikely position of metal broker, fielding calls and e-mails from Philadelphians looking to get some metal to Jordan and Loper.
"The first call was from a very nice woman named Catherine who just said that she really enjoyed the story and that she had metal that she wanted to give to them," says Thompson. "She had an old metal tub. And they went up there and they got it."
Then there was a call from the Northeast. "[He] called me the same day, said they seemed like good guys and he wanted to help them out," he says.
And the e-mails.
From Sam: "I was wondering if there was a way to get in touch with either gentleman. I've got just a little bit of scrap metal that they're welcome to."
From Zachary: "I have a ton of scrap that I need hauled away. I figure that these guys would easily do good for a day or two with it. I would like to know how to contact them, or they can contact me at 215 ... "
From John: "I wish everyone would read [your article] so they'd see several of these guys are simply hard-working small businessmen — many of whom haven't many (any) options. ... I've been around the block a few times and I respect these two businessmen you wrote about and I ALWAYS read the City Paper."
With much of the news about scrapping so negative, it was more than a little heartwarming to see a portion of the city rally around these guys. Our writer had found a couple of rough-hewn heroes.
"Scrap theft is becoming a worse and worse problem," figures Thompson. "I'm still glad to have written about a different side of the story."
A note from David Biddle, executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Commercial Recycling Council, who was quoted in the article, put things in perspective: "Awesome! Really great journalism. As an aside, I went out to get the paper this morning and found the iron gate to our driveway missing. Fortunately, after a bit of scouting, I found it lying in a brush pile nearby. No doubt awaiting a truck (the thing weighs about 100 pounds). This explains the weird noises I heard outside my window last night."
So, yeah, bad scrappers are a problem. It's also nice to know some of the good ones. If you've got scrap metal you'd just like to get rid of, you can alert Loper (215-789-1323) or Jordan (215-756-1201).
In the meantime, it's worth noting that Thompson's suddenly turned into something of a scrapper himself. With a pile of metal under his desk and another in his closet at home, he's amassing enough for his first run to the scrap yard. I suspect he'll let you know about it on our staff blog, citypaper.net/clog.
Thompson found the scrap story when he saw Loper pushing a cart full of metal and struck up a conversation. It's almost exactly how our intern Andrew Thompson (no relation) found outsider artist Charles Hayes: pushing a cart full of his art at Broad and Norris. A few years ago, at the Ridge Ave. men's shelter, Hayes picked up painting as a path out of homelessness and addiction. His shopping cart is his mobile gallery. Read the story here and watch Thompson and Steven Metzger's video report at citypaper.net/arts.