Sunday, May 27, 2007

Country Recycling and Garbage Sharks

The last weekend in May is large item pick up day in our county. That is the weekend when everyone goes through their attics, garages, and even their homes to find all those large items that will not normally be picked up by the garbage trucks. The unwanted items are placed at the roadside on the weekend before the regularly scheduled pickup and the feeding frenzy begins.

It starts on Saturday. A pickup truck that you don't recognize will cruise slowly through the neighbourhood making sure to visit every road. More often than not the pick up has a trailer in tow. Occasionally, you will see an unfamiliar car, van, or other vehicle doing the same thing. Most people don't put their stuff out until Sunday, but occasionally they will place an item or two out and you'll see the thrifty shoppers critically eyeing these early pieces. Even less often, you'll see one of the early offerings trundle past in one of the strange vehicles.

By Sunday, everyone has picked over their stored items and decided which will be offered to the garbage sharks. Each house will sport their normal household garbage and a pile of miscellaneous items, both large and small, that they have deemed unworthy of keeping themselves. The number of cruising vehicles increases as the afternoon passes and the piles of items gets larger and more numerous. Some will drive slowly by only to circle back around if something caught their eye. Others will drive even slower, stopping at every driveway that has anything on display.

The occupants will climb out of their vehicles and begin rummaging through the piles of items, sorting them to their own needs as they go. Old washers in the trailer, wooden furniture with a broken leg in the truck, scrap metal in the trailer but placed on top of a growing pile. For the most part the items they take make sense, especially scrap iron and appliances that can be stripped for scrap. Sometimes though, the items boggle the mind as it is clear to the casual observer that the item has gone beyond its repairable usefulness.

For the most part, the garbage sharks are silent ghosts who rummage through a pile then neatly re-stack it once they have chosen their prizes. Other times you'll hear a raucous hello as the person who placed the offering sees someone they recognize whether from the local Tm Horton's, church, or even from previous years of visiting the same neighbourhoods looking for items to recycle. Sometimes the pickers will give a friendly wave, and if they see an item that hasn't been placed by the roadside but looks like it might be headed that way, they'll offer you a hand in loading it onto their treasure pile.

By Monday morning the piles of throw away items are far smaller than they had been the previous afternoon. It is obvious that the sharks continued their cruising and sorting far into the night. Insubstantial dreams remind you that you were mildly disturbed during the night by the sound of a truck idling outside your home, or a flash of light as someone with a bright spotlight highlighted each offering pile looking for last minute treasures. By the time you get home from work the piles are gone, as is the household garbage, and you know the garbage trucks have completed their rounds.

Large Item Pickup Day is supposed to be a way for people to get rid of their oversized garbage without having to make a special trip to the dump. Instead it has become a yearly tradition of community bonding and good old fashioned recycling. As the saying goes "One man's trash, is another man's treasure."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful way of dealing with unwanted things. Why is it people think that if they put somethings in the garbage it just goes away, but where is away? Nothing just disappears. Something we all need to think about when we go to the store to get that thing we just have to have.
Dot