The Joy of Hauling Junk to the South Austin Dump
I made 3 trips to the South Austin dump today, helping a dear friend clear junk in preparation for a move. It’s one of the obligations of being a truck owner – helping friends with no truck get things done which require a truck.
I have a confession to make. I have a charge account at the dump. I’ve had one since 1995, when Sylvia and I were remodeling a fixer-upper that required over twenty 16ft trailer loads of junk and debris to be hauled from the home, the rear part of which we demolished and tore down.
I opened the commercial charge account for convenience back then, but it’s been handy to have ever since. I just drive in and park on the scales, walk to the window and give my name, then stop on the scales on the way out. The bill comes at the end of the month.
I used to joke that having a charge account at the dump makes me a sophisticated redneck. (yes, I’m a Jeff Foxworthy fan).
Another confession – I enjoy going to the dump and being at the dump. Wearing my ratty old Levi’s that are inappropriate for any occasion other than hauling junk. Putting on my work boots – the same old ones I had in 1995. Getting dirty and tossing worthless stuff out of the back of a pickup truck. Breathing the foul air. Getting a scratch on my un-calloused hands. Feeling like I’m doing actual physical work instead of just pecking at a computer, talking on the phone, or driving around all day showing or previewing homes.
There’s something cleansing and freeing about the physical letting go of clutter and junk – even stuff that’s not mine. And it’s a nice break from the normal day-to-day grind of being a Realtor.
When I was a kid, growing up in San Diego, we were allowed to scavenge stuff from the dump. Trips to the dump were like Christmas for me and my best friend. Our Dads would take us a couple of times a year when clearing out the garage. Finding a perfectly good bicycle with only a broken pedal, and taking it home for resurrection and selling it to a friend – that was what life was all about when I was 12. Rummaging through discarded boxes of books and papers and photos. Finding weird things and wondering what the heck they were. Hearing my Dad yell from across the way “put that down – you’re not bringing it home”. Arguing with Dad when I really did find something cool and worth keeping, and he let me have it. Stopping for hamburgers and a milkshake on the way home.
The dump of my childhood was just a long row of piles dumped onto the dirt ground, until the bulldozer came to push it all over a cliff. Today, the dump in South Austin is organized and fairly clean, though it still smells. Items are tossed not on the dirt to be bulldozed, but into big roll-off dumpsters below the drop-off area. Everything metal that can be recycled is tossed on the ground, taken away by the workers to the metal crusher nearby. Branches and limbs go to the mulching area. Items that are “junk” but maybe not necessarily “trash”, such as the 20 year old particle board TV stand with plastic caster rollers, are set aside to be taken to the “resale” area – a sort of a mini flea market where dump shoppers can find perfectly good bbq grills, lawn mowers, bowling balls, lamps, and all sorts of other things which were junk to their former owners.
Final confession. I’ve hauled stuff to the dump, only to make a short detour to the “resale” area before leaving, and buying something that I didn’t need, but which seemed like a good idea at the time. Like a clip board for $0.25, or a box of never-used brand new pens with green ink for $0.75. Maybe it’s that hard-wired part of me that’s still a kid and needs to “score” something to bring home from the dump. To find that interesting or odd thing that feels like a good “find”. Oh well, as long as I leave each time with substantially less than I brought, it’s still a net reduction in junk.