January 07, 2004
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.
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