Gut Rumbles

January 07, 2004

dump people

I disagree with this post. Not all dump denizens are poor or homeless. Some people go to the dump simply because one man's trash is another man's treasure.

After my grandfather retired from the coal mines, he farmed a couple of acres, but still needed something else to keep him busy. He went to the dump like a rag-picker and looked for things that he could fix and sell (Or give away. He didn't do it for the money.) That's where I learned to shoot a .22 rifle, while my grandfather rooted through trash.

He found good wood and made rocking chairs and foot-stools out of those spoils. He found broken tricycles and repaired them, then gave them away to some kid who didn't have one. He had a good eye for valuable trash.

When I first moved to Effingham County, we had no trash pickup. You hauled your own trash to one of several Dumpster Farms in the county. That's why we still have one of the most heavily-armed fleets of pickup trucks in the world right here in Effingham County, Georgia. You needed a truck to get rid of your trash, and toting a gun is always a good idea.

I learned very quickly that when I backed my truck up to one of those dumpsters, I needed to yell before I started pitching my trash. Somebody might be in there, diving for aluminum cans or whatever else they could find. I saw a few legitimate rag-pickers, but mostly I saw people just like my grandfather.

They weren't homeless and they weren't looking for food. As one old geezer told me one day, "This is better than a garage sale. Everything is FREE!"

One guy I met there looked for broken toys that he could rehabilitate and donate to churches and day-care centers. One woman I met looked for children's clothes that she could wash, patch and sew before she gave them to charity. Believe it or not, I met some really good people at the dump.

We had a garage sale at my house one day and unloaded a lot of our junk that we didn't want anymore. I looked at the leftovers and told Jennifer to call Goodwill to pick it up. We would donate it all to charity and take a tax deduction in the process.

As she was dialing the phone, I changed my mind. "Hang up," I said. "I'm going to haul this stuff off to the Dumpster Farm. We've got baby clothes and broken toys that the dumpster-divers will LOVE. I'm just going to set it on the ground outside the dumpsters and see how long it stays there. We don't need the tax deduction. You want to do charity? Let me handle this."

I took it all to the dump and placed it on the ground outside the dumpsters. Every bit of it was gone the next day. I don't know how many babies got new clothes and new toys, but somebody benefited from what I did that day.

I didn't make a dime off the deal, but I felt good when I saw what happened.


Momma quit sending me to the dump when I started bring back more stuff (but different stuff) than I left with.

Posted by: Willie G on January 7, 2004 06:01 PM

That reminds me of an ex-boyfriend I was with for a few years. He loved VW Bugs and fixing them up. My mom had one, and my dad rolled it one night after one too many beers and darn near totalled the thing. My boyfriend fixed the two broken windows, pounded out the dents and so on and eventually my mom gave him the bug. He was always working on that beat up hunk of metal, but he loved it. About half the time he'd be late picking me up for a night out, or picking me up from work, and when I'd ask where the heck he'd been, he'd say "At the dump, pulling parts off of junked bugs to put on mine." But how could I get mad at him for being a half hour late most of the time? I didn't have to worry that he was out foolin' around, or out drinking with the boys. Nooo, my boyfriend was at the dump! Damn he was a great guy.

Posted by: Alaska Kim on January 7, 2004 06:02 PM

You should have warned me ... this post would bring a tear.

I've been on the giving AND the receiving end of charities and your junk was sent to the right place.

I've recycled my "junk" for 20 years and I know it gets into good hands.

I was one of the original "toys for tots" people, and all we used to collect were recycled toys.

Posted by: Sherry on January 7, 2004 06:11 PM

Here on Cape Cod, the local dumps have "Treasure Chests" (or variations of that name) where people can simply drop off things that are clean and reusable but unwanted. It's first come, first serve...and you can get alot of great things from there!

Posted by: Elizabeth on January 7, 2004 08:56 PM

I picked a whole bunch of chairs and stools out of the trash put out in my neighborhood when we lived in Spain--- good stuff, some antique and easily repaired, but I had to beat the local gypsy trash-picker to it! He came around with his little van first thing Monday morning.... but I went jogging on Sunday evenings.

Posted by: Sgt. Mom on January 8, 2004 11:08 AM

I spent many a time at the dump and "junk yard" digging out stuff for cars and to repair broken stuff you couldn't get parts for anymore. Hell, even during my HVAC service days, I'd hit the scrap yards for parts for obsolete units so I could repair them. A lot of good stuff goes there, and comes back out again.

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