Throwing stuff out is great.
Having been a ‘hard rubbish’ virgin until this week I was unprepared for the emotional journey which accompanies releasing a broken washing machine, an old organ (the kind with black and white keys—not one of the vital ‘internal’ kind) and a collection of junk once cherished or used often.
It took me a couple of days to sort through the garage, the shed, and outside of the house, and it was hard work lugging the heavier stuff up the long, steep drive to the road, but eventually we got there.
I did have to drag the washing machine over strips of carpet, shuffling up in stages by moving one of two off-cuts in the same stop-start way I imagine the Egyptians rolled immense rock building blocks over logs, but eventually I reached the summit and slapped a ‘Booked For Collection’ pink sticker on that old Whirlpool.
That was Sunday.
We were ready to say goodbye to the old and had space for the new.
On Monday, after neatly piling up a bit more junk, and upon returning from the local paper and cardboard recycle centre, I was surprised to discover some anonymous sod had added to our booked-in collection. A big mattress had been dropped off by an unknown dumper extending our collection beyond the two square-metres we were officially allocated by the local council.
It pissed me off. I’d expected people to take items of interest but not to leave items of dis-interest.
After this I found myself keeping a keen eye out for anyone else who thought they could likewise get rid of some junk on our nature strip. Then something happened which seemed to me significant. Something which reminded me about human nature and how not all people are the same.
This morning, as I watched a guy park his car, get out and wander (and wonder) around our private junk pile, I was ready to jump should he show any sign of popping his boot and bringing out a broken mower or whatever else he felt like discarding on our transient tip.
Nobody else was going to get away with another dump.
But something wasn’t right. This guy walked across the road, then back and inspected his car. I thought he was figuring what to take away and felt relieved when I realized he wasn’t going to add to the pile. Then, when he took an old waste paper basket I’d packed with hard(ish) rubbish and proceeded to empty it of the old-runners and what-not it had been holding, I decided to go have a word.
Something along the lines of:
“Why are you making a mess, Mr. If you want the basket take the junk too but please don’t spread more around.”
But I didn’t have to say anything confrontational.
He was driving off as I got to the top of the drive but he stopped and, through the open passenger window, explained what had happened.
He’d hit a bird.
His pacing back and forth was due to his distress. He’d used the basket to put the bird in and, although he didn’t know precisely what he was going to do next, to take the poor creature—somewhere.
I felt bad. This guy hadn’t made a mess at all—he was in one.
I smiled sympathetically and shoved the old runners into an open box next to a rusted chair as he drove away with the dead bird resting in our old basket on his passenger seat.
Walking back to the house, and like the stranger who’d just accidentally killed a wild bird, I felt emotional too. I also promised to myself to try and remember not everyone will dump rubbish on you when you’re trying to get rid of it.
Some just have their own messes to clean up.