The Joy of Hauling Junk to the South Austin Dump

junk 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.

Posted by Steve
12 years ago

Steve is a Real Estate Blogger, UT Austin Grad, Real Estate Broker and owner of Crossland Team and Crossland Real Estate in Austin TX.

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Michael - 12 years ago

You crack me up…………

Sammer - 12 years ago

Dude, I hear you. I am a mild mannered computer programmer by day and an elitist when it comes to the finer things in life like well aged Scotch or some nice Proscuitto, but I love going to the dump too. I have some rental real estate and the amount of junk that people leave in a house combined with construction debris gives me plenty of opportunities to go to the dump. I bought an old 4×4 truck a couple of years ago with big knobby tires, and I think it likes going to the dump too. There is just something about going out there and tossing junk into a large pile while the bulldozer mows over it. After piling the junk in the truck muttering to myself what animals my tenants are for leaving this crap, it is cathartic to just hurl it and smash it up. I could go on…

I am glad I came across your posting, because the dump I usually go to is closed on the weekend, which makes me have to get up at dawn to unload the truck. I’ll check the South Austin dump out on Saturday with about 100 pounds of concrete, some chicken bones, roof shingles, an unidentified jaw bone, fishing pole, chicken wire, light socket, a faucet, some glass and whatever the hell else I dig up in this week in a back yard I am cleaning up.


Linda (Williams) Smith - 12 years ago

Hey Steve, Your Mom sent me your blog to read, I enjoyed it so much! I too remember going to the dump with my Dad when I was a kid, it was quite the experience. However I really never brought home any “treasures”, I just remember some of the things my Dad gave away, boy, some people were quite lucky, to say the least. My Dad decided to clean out the garage, and take my brother Mikes American Flyer Train set to the dump. Imagine how happy the man was that was standing there, and asked my Dad if he could have. I bet to this day that man has a story to tell. Anyway I thoroughly enjoyed your blog. I am definitely going to print it and take it to my parents to see. They will get a good laugh. I have such good memories of our two families when you, your brother Mike and my brother Steve were just annoying little kids! I’m so glad our Mom’s keep in touch, they’re so good for each other.
An old friend….Linda

Steve - 12 years ago

Hi Linda. Yes, Mom’s always trying to connect people isn’t she? Nice to hear from you. Say Hi to your Mom and Dad!

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