A Serendipitous Walk

Reply Wed 13 Mar, 2024 05:46 pm
A Serendipitous Walk

Yesterday, due to daylight savings time I had an extra hour of daylight. To take advantage of the extra hour, I took a longer walk that passed by several small trash piles left there by unthinking people. I had seen these piles previously and had picked over them being a habitual scavenger, but I wanted to pick over the pile one more time. It's my instinctive vulturine nature. I can't help it.

I saw the edge of a shiny bowl mostly buried and picked it up with hope. It paid off. It was a large casserole-type Pyrex bowl, exactly what I needed but too expensive to buy if they even sell them anymore. It was filthy but undamaged, not a single chip or blemish. Looking on eBay, there were some vintage Pyrex bowls for sale that were asking thousands of dollars. I wasn't looking for a payoff, I was just interested in how much my bowl would cost, and it was around $20-$30 or so. That was my jackpot. Just what I always wanted. I can put my hummus puree in it.

I have a history with dumps or sanitary fills as they now call them. When I worked at the zoo with lovely snakes and turtles, I occasionally had trash detail that required making the rounds of the zoo and loading a dump truck with animal waste products and that sort of thing. I had a commercial driver's license, so I got to drive to the sanitary fill to unload. That was not always a fun experience.

Sanitary fills are the natural habitat of gulls or seagulls, which should more be appropriately be called sanitary fill gulls. There is a lot of food for them there and hundreds, seemingly thousands of gulls take advantage of the plethora of food. That's the bright side of sanitary fills though.

It's difficult to imagine how dreary it is to be in a sanitary fill in a downpouring rain, unloading crap, real crap, exotic crap from exotic animals and then having your truck get hopelessly stuck in a mountain of stinking, muddy trash. And there I was demoralized, but there was a man driving a bulldozer, an enormous bulldozer to push mountains of trash over a cliff. He was my angel, my bulldozing savior, and he pulled me out of the mire with a chain.

While in the Army stationed in Northern Alabama, a roommate by the name of Curtis P. Martin asked me for a ride to see his girlfriend. Her family lived in a isolated rural area near the Tennessee border. Her father, little brother and sister lived in dilapidated shack that had not even the basic necessities of a dwelling. There was no electricity, no running water nor even a well, and the outhouse was substandard. To get water, they would go to a neighbor down the road and fetch it pail by pail.

Their prized possession was a crank up console record player that played 78s. As far as I know they only had one record, The ballad of Jesse James. I remember the line, "that dirty little coward that shot Mr. Howard. (aka Thomas Howard) He laid poor Jesse in his grave."

The little teenage brother, Jake concocted a homebrew made out of nothing but sugar and yeast just to make a little spending money. There were always willing customers because it was a dry county. I never did see much of the father, but the brother and sister planned a day out to the local sanitary fill to look for treasures. They were quite excited about it, and I had the feeling that treasure hunting was part of their regular activity. I never did get to accompany them on their excursion because I had to get back to the base.

Safely ensconced in my second-floor eight-man squad room overlooking the street, my Spartan life seemed quite rich compared to that rural Alabama family. But was it that different? Today, there was activity in the street outside the window. It was one of those newfangled Dempster dumpster trucks that picked up trash from those large containers and lifted it up dumping the contents into the top of the truck. Everybody rushed to the window entertained by watching what one man called a Dempsey Dumpster in action. It seems like everybody is enthralled by trash.
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Reply Wed 13 Mar, 2024 06:42 pm
Fascinating. Thanks for sharing all that.
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Reply Wed 13 Mar, 2024 07:02 pm
When I was a kid in Fresno there was a vineyard behind the house. If we cut across the vineyard we came to a dumpground. My brothers and I went there frequently to scrounge for stuff. It was a smaller independent, so no bulldozer to contend with. A man once drove up to talk. He instructed us to turn over any money we might find to him. (Sure we would) I took home some comics and magazines. I don't recall finding anything of great value. But we always were on the lookout for stuff where we went.

Right now there is a bundle of HardiPlank siding on the side of the street two houses over. Been there for a week. Nobody claims it. I plan to claim it tomorrow.
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