Into the jaws of the beast: ‘Bulky trash pickup day’

#443 in a series of true experiences in real estate
November 2003, Hills Newspapers

The entire mound of my discards is gone from the street in front of my house. I woke up just in time to see it being fed into the huge jaws of the garbage truck, heard the loud grinding and creaking as it was mashed inside.

My son’s old platform bed was the best; it neatly snapped in two, then was gone.

From the moment the notice from the garbage company arrived a few weeks ago announcing the bulky pickup date, I’ve been planning what to get rid of. I do this every year. My eyes and mind search every corner of my home and garden for items that can go away.

And it’s free. No need for burying or a dump run, no try-to-give-it-away. All I have to do is get whatever I don’t want to the curb very early on the right day.

Once I had a huge and heavy homemade bookshelf sort of thing in my garage. It came with the house and I didn’t want it, but how to make it disappear? Dismantling it, even shifting it elsewhere would have been monumental. Bulky pickup day was announced and it occurred to me that if I could just get the behemoth outside, the garbage guys would take it away forever.

It took some doing, several pairs of hands, but we got it out there a day ahead of time. I could hardly wait till the next morning to see it eaten. I was up at five checking the street from my windows. Finally, an hour later, I heard the truck and ran to the best vantage point, my front porch.

I thought the guys might be intimidated by the size of the shelf, but they weren’t. Impassively, two men walked to its ends, then effortlessly heaved it into the truck jaws. It was absolutely thrilling. The truck gulped it down taking only a few bites.

I do wish I had a refrigerator or chest freezer, even a big old recliner chair, to feed to the truck. I’d love to see those go. But mostly I have every year a lot of garbage bags full of leaves and plant prunings, sometimes tree limbs. Good to get rid of so much so easily but sorta boring.

Almost always, in my zeal, my annual clean-up and clear-out mode, I put out on the street things I’d meant to donate to charity. People come by and take them. Discarded dishes and pans, extra coffee maker, ratty looking TV tables, all are seen as found treasure by those who come to the neighborhood the day before pickup.

It’s great when people want what I don’t, when they see something and claim it as their own. It isn’t always easy to persuade charities to come collect items, even good and useable ones.

A client recently cleaned out a house and set aside kitchenware, furniture, and a massive number of clean clothes. He called Salvation Army, a mistake. As promised, they arrived, but the driver rejected the whole lot. There was no time to get someone else. Everything went to the dump.

Some things, like televisions, are nearly impossible to get rid of. Last year a client wanted to dispose of a vintage TV-in-a-cabinet. He carted it to various charities and dumps, carried that big old TV around in the trunk of his car for a couple of weeks before giving up and sticking it in his garage.

From my street I’ve passed along to anyone who wanted them sheets of plywood, sheetrock, lumber and fencing. Once I put out a pink toilet that I was happy to help a neighbor load into her car. She shouted back as she drove away that her husband would probably kill her for taking it. I understood. My son had just dragged home from another neighbor’s pile an impossibly awful upholstered chair. He covered it with a sheet and used it in his room until it was added to our discards the next year.

I always put out jigsaw puzzles, ones I’ve worked and am done with. They’re complete in their boxes, the lids taped securely on. I’m ever hopeful that another jigsaw puzzler will come along and be happy to find them, take them. But it’s never happened. Every year the puzzles end up going into the truck.

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