Friday, December 12, 2008

The Eastpointer

One man’s trash

By Richard E. Noble

We were cleaning up after a hurricane a while back and we were told that we could put our debris out in front of our property on the side of the road and the County would come and pick it up. Well, that was great, but something curious began happening. Pickup trucks, vans and even cars began stopping by our mountain of trash and sorting through the debris. To my surprise many people found things that they took away.
One fellow in a late model pickup even salvaged the cover from an old gas grill. He told me that the gas grill covers were made out of something that he got good money for at the salvage yard.
After that experience before I hauled anything off to the dump, I put it out front beside the road and waited to see if it would disappear.
I put a broken, washing machine out there; it was gone in a matter of hours. When our kitchen stove died, I wheeled it out to the side of the road and like magic, it was gone. I had two ancient electric space heaters that went next. We had a 15 year old hot tub. We finally got tired of fixing it. We took it apart, put all the PVC pipe and motor parts in a wheelbarrow and then, end over end flopped that old hot tub out to the road’s edge. That stuff hung around for a whole day before it disappeared.
I finally got tired of storing old lawn mowers in my shed. I had at least four dead lawn mowers. I stuck them out beside the road’s edge. I had people fighting over those things.
First a lady came by and asked if I was throwing all those mowers away. I told her that I was.
“I want them all” she said. “I’m going to rush home right now and tell my boy to come back and get them.”
“Fine,” I said. “They’re all yours.”
She drove off and two minutes later another pickup pulled up and then a third. By the time I got my shoes on and got my butt out there again, these two guys were in a heated debate. They had avoided a brawl and compromised. They agreed to divide everything up even-steven. When I told them that I had already given the mowers to a lady and that her son was coming back to get them, they began debating with me. They said that the “rule” for side-of-the-road garbage picking was first come - first serve. I told them that the absent lady was first. They disagreed. She didn’t come prepared to haul, they argued.
Now I had a dilemma. I didn’t want the stuff and I really didn’t care who got it. But I had already told the lady that her son could have it.
“Well, where is he?” my roadside lawyers protested.
I told one of the men that the mower he was looking at had a bent crankshaft anyway.
“No problem,” he said I have a crankshaft straightener.”
Just then a third pickup truck pulled up. “My mom just called me and said you had some old broken lawn mowers for me?”
“I do.”
“What about us?” the other two men protested.
“You will have to talk to this young man,” I advised. “They’re his mowers now. You’ll have to excuse me. I hear my wife calling.”
“I don’t hear anybody. Did you hear anything, Loy?”
“I didn’t hear anything.”
They were still debating as I ran to the house. I don’t know who got what but as I peeked out from behind a curtain, it looked like everybody got something.
Now what’s really interesting is a short while ago me and the wife went to Fort Lauderdale to visit with some of the relatives. It was Saturday morning when we arrived and my niece and her husband and the kids were all loaded up in their pickup truck and about to embark on a tour around the neighborhood. They had a big pile of junk stacked on the side of the road in front of their house and they were going to find better junk in other piles stacked in front of other homes around the block.
It seems that this is not only an Eastpoint phenomenon but a national pastime.

“A Little Something” is R.E. Noble’s first book of poetry and it is now on sale at Amazon and locally at Downtown Books along with Hobo-ing America, A Summer with Charlie and Honor Thy Farther and Thy Mother. Richard Noble is a freelance writer who has lived here in Eastpoint for nearly 30 years.