Trash Digging

Among my (many) poor qualities, pridefulness does not rank high.

I have never owned a fancy or even a brand new car, and I do not aspire to. Until recently, I held out with a dinosaur of a cell phone that flipped open and was anything but smart. I *might* have worn the same yoga pants 3 times this week. Oh, and I occasionally bring home other people’s trash.

Yes, that's right, trash - straight from the curb on trash day, carted back to my nice, clean home.

What can I say... other than that I take a lot of walks, so I see stuff. Plus I do live in a rather affluent area; people throw away some pretty nice things here. Wait, hold on, that’s not a very good excuse; when I lived among people poorer than myself, I still brought home trash.

In our mid-twenties, my husband and I rented a house on campus from the university where he did his doctorate. Our charming little white house was surrounded by apartments of undergrads, and I might have brought home their trash once or twice too: drunken-mid-western-teenager's trash.

I recall a so-procured office chair (that was pretty uncomfortable) and, my favorite: a desk that I dragged from the side of a dumpster into our backyard. Before I could get out to purchase a proper dog house for our newly adopted puppy, I gave the DIY/(very) recycled method a go. That cheap desk, only slightly transformed, with a straw bed inside, served our pup well in the first weeks.

Originally, I had plastic stapled to the roof of said-desk to help with warping from rain/snow. Not a week later, a huge storm ripped through town and left building debris and roof shingles scattered across the roads. Imagine my euphoria: I needed some roof shingles to cover the top of my dog’s desk, er, house, and then, like mana from heaven, roof shingles came raining down.

I would go so far as to say this dog house was preordained by God himself. Can’t you just tell by looking at it?

(pre-roof shingles)
Right, so in addition to the desk/dog-house, I’ve picked up a few other things here and there, curbside. While I am a far cry from a hoarder - I give, sell, or throw away anything my household is not putting to use sometimes, well, we can put other people’s trash to use.
While vacationing in New England, I once walked past this fantastic old painted tray. I was sure to make some room in my suitcase so that treasure of a souvenir could make it home with me.

And lately, here among my working-wealthy-urbinite neighbors, my repertoire of acquisitions includes: a mini basketball hoop, a plastic teeter-totter, a couple of spare chairs, a hideous framed painting that was great for recovering with fabric, a half-dead tree that came back to life… and probably some other stuff I don't remember.

Why let them go to the landfill if I can rescue them back into use?
I think this sporadic hobby of mine generally mortifies my husband; if I have to enlist his help in carrying the article home, he is none too happy to walk up to someone’s trash at the curb and walk away carrying something. I can understand that.

It does make me feel a little hillbilly-ish, strolling down PCH, past the mansions, with a piece of furniture hanging out of my stroller… stopping the flow of Mercedes and BMW’s, in my grubby exercise clothes, so I can cross the street yielding a large piece of “garbage.”

But my hilarious and humiliating jaunts are worth it for me - to sacrifice how I look for that moment for what I get out of it that’s lasting.

Recently, on my way home from an afternoon walk, I passed a little brown desk, set out to the curb in the rain. I kept walking. Turned around. Did a second walk past. Yes, that has potential. I picked it up and ambled awkwardly down the sidewalk for the remaining 25 yards until I got home.

I don’t need a desk. But I brought it home anyway. I cleaned it up and applied a coat of hip paint and a little bit of sanding. Voila. It was a useful stand for party-favors at a soiree that weekend and the following week I sold it on Craigslist. $50, thank you very much.

And what did it cost me? Just a little bit of elbow-grease and an ounce of pride.

I'm just saying, sometimes when you swallow your pride, you burp up a treasure. Or $50.

May my trash digging escapades inspire you to consider what you would bring home, or do differently, or not buy if it weren't for your pride.

1 comment:

  1. Love this! I cried I laughed so hard.