Saturday, September 19, 2009

Junk In My Trunk

Posted by David -- apparently if I don't put this here people think Jess wrote it

Today I had one of the top 10 most surprisingly enjoyable experiences of my life.

At the dump.

Many of you are familiar with my thoughts on "stuff." To recap, I hate it. I watch a show on A&E called "Hoarders" and I almost get the shakes just thinking about some of these homes where stuff is piled up to the rafters and hasn't been touched for years but is considered valuable enough to keep. I've resolved never to even approach that point.
Slowly but surely, we have been jettisoning some of our unwanted things that were left over from moves or from previous tenants. But today, we took a big leap forward.

My dad (another less-than-sentimental "when in doubt, throw it out" guy when it comes to clutter) and I rented a small U-Haul to take out to the W.aste M.anagement facility outside Hillsboro. We sweatedly loaded up a number of things that have been lingering for years at my house and his:

- An old sawhorse
- Two hoses
- An air conditioner the size of Vermont
- 17 hunks of metal disguised as a ridiculously old and useless propane grill
- Blinds from my house that were considered stylish to someone at some point, I'm sure
- An aluminum ladder that my dad got from his neighbor when she was throwing it out, that he fixed and kept (that was 35 years ago)
- And then there's this gem, really the Hope Diamond (or at least the Lou Diamond Phillips) of this junkyard exhibit: THE SNAPPER MOWER:

This mower, ably displayed by my dad, was already old when I started mowing the family lawn.

I was 12.

During its last days, the engine would idle so low that if you mowed a particularly long area of grass (say, longer than an inch) it would moan under the strain like a pregnant sheep, so much that you had to tip it to a 45-degree angle for 30 seconds until it got enough strength back to continue. Using this method the last time I mowed the lawn, I started about 7PM and finished 6 years later. So, to get this beast onto the U-Haul was quite the feat.

We left about 8AM for the dump. I was expecting a vast expanse of wasteland with flocks of gulls flying overhead, their dirty wings riding the thermal winds of never-ending and penetrating stench, and large earth movers constantly rotating rubbish across the barren landscape as if they were beaters of a giant mixer, gently stirring the contents of a vast primordial brownie batter.

Instead, I found a rather orderly parking lot with large brown garbage bins below into which we could huck our junk. Not as apocalyptic a scene than I had envisioned, but thankfully much more sanitary.

As we first drove in, I noticed several bins labeled "Tin/Aluminum," "Wood," "Cardboard," etc. My dad and I both apparently had the same thought -- Blurgh! We had already sorted, recycled and garage-saled as much as we could handle. Now we JUST. WANTED. TO THROW SOME STUFF. AWAY. No more sorting! No more restrictions or a new place to take this material or that stuff! A man in a hard hat approached, and my dad somberly asked, "do we have to sort through all those?" nodding towards the material-specific bins. The man paused for a moment, and then said, " No, just pull up to Bin #3."

Bin #3! Big Brown Bin! Big, Brown, Non-Sorting Bin! Happily, we backed the U-Haul up to where it perched 5 feet above an 18-wheel type debris trailer.

This is where it really started to get fun. As soon as the back door of the U-Haul was opened, I just threw the first thing I saw -- a box of old tiles -- over the edge and into the pleasant abyss of refuse below. Ahhh... that felt good. Box of styrofoam! Goodbye. Old old roll of old old carpet! Auf Wiedersehen. I even added some no-look garbage tosses straight out of the U-Haul for good measure. Now THIS was what we came here to do. By the time we grabbed the infamous Snapper Mower to topple over the edge, we were having too much fun to stop. As soon as it thudded its way into the bin below, my dad paused and said with a tinge of sadness, "Welp! No going back now..." and quickly we were back to work. In less than 10 minutes, our U-Haul was clear and we were back on our way.

All told, we lost 1340 pounds today. We know this because we were weighed before and after our trip to the bins, and this was our weight on the way out:

- 6240 pounds -- yes, I'd already eaten breakfast so it's included here

By the time I got home, I had resolved to get a group of friends together each year, rent a U-Haul and head out to the dump together with a fine load of given-up-on items. There's something primal and simple about driving out to the country and just dumping things.

I first noticed this phenomenon on the freeways outside of Phoenix a few years ago, joking with a friend that I could furnish a new home in Mesa just by picking things up in the median on the way from LA. I thought it was crazy (and illegal) then, and I still wouldn't do it myself -- I guess I'm just saying I understand a bit better now.

So thanks, Dump! Thanks for being there, and for just letting us have a place to let things go.


Sassymama said...

1340 lbs?
Holy Cannoli.
I mean I knew y'all had a lot of junk, but I am muy impressed:)
And mostly I am impressed you got Dad to jettison the Snapper!

nicole said...

This post is like scripture to me. I LOVE throwing things away... it is essential to my being. Please, please let us know next time you are renting a truck for a "dump run". We are so in! Then we can have a Dump Day celebration with pizza, dessert, and, of course, TRAINS! Yes, an annual trash catharsis -- I love it.

Diana said...

Oh the memories of mowing the lawn with that thing. I am glad you got a picture of it with Dad. I am glad it is gone!!!!!

Cooper Family said...

You mean that was 1340 pounds we didn't have to help you move?