Occasionally I'm asked about the current state of the Spanish economic crisis (or as we call it here, La Crisis), and my usual response is that I'm pretty isolated from it. There are protests now and then, and graffiti scattered around town but for the most part I don't see much. A lot of this is due to where we live (in the wealthiest neighborhood in Madrid) and who I see at work (mostly people who can afford to study or work overseas).
But today while on my way home I passed a younger guy standing next to his bike and furtively glancing over his shoulder up the street. As I came closer I noticed that he had pulled a small, discarded microwave out of a street-side dumpster. The guy was dressed casually, but neatly. Nothing about his dress or appearance indicated that he was living on the street.
He cradled the microwave in one arm and with the other was making small jabs into the back of the motor with a screwdriver. I stopped and asked him what he was up to. "El Cobre," he said. The copper. Hay un valor en este? Is there a value in this? I asked.
He nodded and then turned back to his task at hand. I decided that a person desperate enough to scavenge copper from a microwave in a dumpster was probably someone not to bother with too many probing questions. I offered him buena suerte, good luck, and continued on down the street back home.