It was an early start for sure. But for these quality outings, it’s always worth it. On this beautiful Saturday morning, I spent an hour piling everything in the back of the truck – careful not to scratch the paint – stopped off at Dunkin’ for a coffee, and headed off down the road with a song in my heart. Yes, I was on my way to…the dump.
Now okay, it’s technically not the dump in our town. It’s the Drop Off Center. And we can’t just dump stuff there in a big pile as in days of yore. We now back our vehicles up a steep hill to the edge of a dumpster and drop our junk off the side – hence the name Drop Off Center, I guess. There are separate dumpsters for metal and others for construction materials, which include everything else that isn’t specifically collected. They gather TVs, batteries, and tires in separate containers. All very neat and clean. Yes, sir, a nice, clean dump.
This beautiful morning, I was greeted by a smiling attendant at the hallowed gates of the drop off center. As polite as a waiter in any first-class restaurant, he looked over my load, pretending to take my word for what was buried in there. But he really didn’t. I caught his sideward glance behind our old grill, the little peak he stole under the pile of rotten wood. I was dealing with a real professional here – he knew all the tricks that a dishonest dumper might try to pull. He gave me a price. I gave him a check. Paying to drop off your trash – a concept as strange as paying to watch TV for those who grew up with three free channels and the town dump right around the corner.
I stepped out of the truck, just to stretch a bit before ascending the slope. I breathed in deeply, expecting to capture a taste of that vibrant dump air that I recalled from my youth. But of course, it wasn’t the same. The smell of old wood, plasterboard, and rusted metal, all neatly contained in huge dumpsters, just doesn’t come close to those steaming piles of dump junk, containing God-knows-what hazardous materials, garbage, and tires from my early years. But I stretched anyhow. It just seemed the respectable thing to do.
Three other vehicles were at the edge of the construction materials dumpster when I backed my truck up. Two gentlemen and a lady. One of the guys hiked his pants over a huge belly and, with a nod and tip of the hat, acknowledged my presence. The other bellowed out a hearty “Good morning!” as if we were a couple of pals in the neighborhood gym before a squash game – although this guy looked like he grew squash rather than played squash. The suspenders and John Deere cap gave him away. Just two regular guys. Dump guys. My kinda guys.
The woman was of a different caliber. Dressed as if for a casual walk around the block, she completely ignored us, intent on clearing her trunk of its neatly stacked piles of wood. Now, a true dump guy would have burned that wood in his fireplace or wood stove, or maybe begun to build a shed or fishing boat with it. But I have to credit the woman for bringing her pile o’ wood to the dump rather than hiding it in her curbside trash bags. And I was smitten with her colorful lime green garden gloves…another reason why we have a clean dump. But I’ll bet she still stopped off at McDonald’s rest room on the way home, just to wash her hands. A dump is, after all, only so clean.
I was glad to have arrived early, beating the crowd to this popular weekend retreat. Well fortified with nutritious coffee and a low fat, cholesterol-free coconut donut (not), I had the energy to heave the remains of my dilapidated shed and an old couch into the belly of that dumpster, enjoying every crunching sound. Like any guy, I relish the opportunity to smash things in a safe environment – that is, away from my wife’s watchful eye. No doubt, a throwback to caveman days. My dump buddies enjoyed it too. They had already tossed their loads in and were just leaning against their trucks, standing in pools of sweat and learning to breathe again. But they still had enough stamina to goad me on with every toss of my stuff. I felt like Superman.
Alas, the joy ended all too soon. The bed of my truck emptied quickly. I swept it out, descended from the slope, and stepped out of the cab for one more quick sniff before leaving. It’s not the same, but I’ll just have to get used to this new, cleaner dump smell – excuse me, this Drop Off Center smell. Then I headed home for a shower. Some smells you do have to wash away.
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