Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Trash Day

I'm sitting here on yet another cold February day listening to the squeak of the brakes of the recycling truck. Later, the trash man will come with his loud music piercing the crisp the trash man I mean the driver of the trash truck with the automatic arms that empties the non recyclables. I've been saving this picture for a couple weeks and the inspiration and thoughts finally came together today..
   Recently, the Mr. helped me focus on some household tasks that needed taking care of...particularly the Goodwill donation pile and the dump run.
   One Saturday this month, we loaded the truck with stuff that just needed to go...disintegrating patio furniture, some chairs that just spent too much time in the pool house in Indiana and kept growing mold, extra items that are either worn out or broken, but can’t just keep around anymore. We try to find homes for things we wish to discard, but sometimes things just have to go. We're all familiar with the drill.
   As we made the short trip to the county dump, where we can dump all we want for free, I recalled going along to the dump in Ohio with Grandpa Buster as a very young child. Any field trip with Grandpa was special so when asked, I went. And it didn't matter where. ( I particularly liked the trips to the 'pretzel guy' then 'Angie's Diner', but that's for another day...)
    It’s a image that stuck with me...I remember the smell hitting you when you approached the dump and it was a sea of trash as far as I could see. Not just ‘large item’ discards like this, but trash, actual kitchen type waste. The sound of backhoes and bobcats bobbed along the pile moving things around, for what reason, I didn't know.  Grandpa, and others, just backed their trucks up to the pile. Then they just tossed the stuff out of the truck drove away. Every time I take the trash bins and recycling out to the curb I think of this experience and figuratively throw my hands up in surrender, because what do you do?
   Like everything else, we’ve been softened by clever marketing to the reality of what we are experience as a child is a sharp contrast to what I saw this day. We drove up the winding, somewhat manicured hillside to a pattern of construction size dumpsters that almost looked like a neighborhood street, none were overflowing, labeled with categories and/or numbers. The attendant politely directed us to number 10 after assessing the items in the truck. We pulled up, waited our turn, politely said good morning to our fellow dumpers, as if we were having morning coffee greetings at the mailbox. We took out turn, emptied our items, and drove away.
   Just as our taking the bins to the curb separates us from the reality of the mountain of waste we create, the rather pristine conditions of our county dump takes the sting out of tossing aside items we had to have at one point but no longer want. I kept looking for the sea of trash I remembered as a child but it was not visible. There was no foul smell, I thank February for that, and as we got ready to leave I grabbed my camera to preserve the images of this new way of going to the dump. The impact of this experience likely doesn't stick with many people because it ISN'T impactful. It's just life now and we are conditioned to put it all out of our mind once a week when the bin is rolled to the curb and every so often when we toss things into rather clean bins at the dump.
   I will point out that making the dump more appealing to the general population probably serves the adjunct purpose of encouraging people to keep their properties more tidy. If it's a negative experience, people don't want to go, so, particularly large items, would clutter yards and sheds. (Some people still must not realize the dump is so nice!!!)
  I'm glad, through tagging along on a routine errand with my Grandpa, I have that image in my memory and I can share it with my daughter sometime. She was writing an essay recently when applying to a summer science program. One of the questions she was asked was to name something you want to know more about. She came up with, what happens to all that trash we create? Perhaps we need to take her to the dump and satisfy a little curiosity about the step just beyond the curb, pairing Science with History a bit.