Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August Dump

You would think, living in a college town in a student-heavy neighborhood, that graduation weekend would be the time with the greatest amount of trash being dumped. But it is, by far, August that holds that title around here.

Toward the end of July the apartment complex management starts ordering large dumpsters which are deposited haphazardly around the parking lot.  Every couple of days, for the entire month of August, a trailer comes, drops off a new dumpster and takes away the old one. Usually, these dumpsters catch on fire at least once over the summer. So far that hasn't happened, although it always leaves a peculiar smell of not-quite-wood-smoke lingering in the air when it does burn.

This year, for some reason, the prime location for depositing these dumpsters appears to be below my bedroom window. Occasionally there are even two at once! hanging out down there. I've learned to park my car farther away than normal (1) so that the truck won't back into it during pickup/delivery and (2) so that I do not jump up to check on the condition of my car every time I hear breaking glass.  I hear breaking glass a half-dozen times daily. And a few more nightly.

Then there are the scavengers.

There's always a few homeless guys who hop in and out of the regular sized dumpsters during the year in search of empty pop bottles and beer cans that they can collect deposits on. But August is the true season of the scavenger.  Every time I look out my window, there's another person standing in the long dumpster, pulling things back out.

Some of them are looking for flea market items -- they pull out whole furniture that can obviously be repaired or re-purposed. I saw someone load what looked like an entire Christmas's worth of children's toys out of the dumpster and into a minivan.  All I can say is I hope someone lysols that shit before they give it to a toddler to stick in his mouth.

Some are looking for easy metal to grab and sell back to the scrap yards -- they most often pull up with a pick up truck bed full of metal bed frames and garden fences and once I saw one full of white wire Christmas lawn deer.

Some, like the guy currently making his way through the dumpster below, are some combination of scavenger, scrapper, archaeologist, and handyman.  This guy showed up with his own canvas bag of tools. Tools which appear to be kept clean and orderly. He immediately went for the large television set lying on top of the heap, but didn't take the TV out. He instead, cracked open the back and gutted it, pulling out components and taking what he wanted and putting back in what he didn't. He didn't rip or break, but cut, clipped, and unscrewed, then delicately set down outside the bin the large components he wanted to keep. He's found some other things he wants to keep.  Bits of metal, a bunch of wires, some green computer circuitry which looks broken from here, a plastic drawer from a Sterilite tower, and the base of a guitar stand.  He's spent the past half hour meticulously deconstructing the bed from a sleeper-sofa so that he can pull the bed part from the dumpster, open up the folded bed on the pavement, remove the mattress and toss it back in.  He is, oddly enough, keeping the mattress pad as well as the metal frame.

I feel like I should go out an post a sign when this guy's gone: dumpster has been scavenged in the past 4-10 hours, guaranteed. Try elsewhere.

Highly Recommended