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What A Dump

by Stephen Lautens

July 9, 1999

Man has two basic instincts ­ to build and to throw stuff out.

We build houses and office towers. Some build real estate or computer empires. Building can be very satisfying. It gives you a real sense of accomplishment. You can stand back and look at something to be passed down through the generations as your mark on history.

Then there's the sheer joy of throwing things out.

I never understood it. At some point in his life my father began prowling around the house looking for things to throw out. A tour of the basement usually yielded several likely candidates for tossing. Ice skates that date from shortly after they invented ice. Old school notes I kept because of a recurring dream that I passed the seventh grade by accident and I have to do it over.

Dad looked forward to garbage day every week, and one of his biggest joys was taking a big green bag to the curb. Two bags verged on ecstasy.

Until recently I never understood it.

Although we live in a throw away society, we have always done our best to recycle. Old clothes go to Goodwill. Magazines go to the local hospital. Books go to the thrift shop. Regular garbage is kept to a minimum. But still we have the kind of clutter that would have had dad rubbing his hands in glee.

But I never knew the true joy of disposal until we bought a cottage. It's a modest affair, but it came furnished. In other words, it came filled with stuff the previous owner didn't think worth hauling away. These are things that bypassed antique and went straight to dilapidated.

We've even tried to find a use or a home for some of them, but strangely no one seems to want a broken lamp with a red plastic shade that would only look good adorning a piano in a house of ill repute. Or the orange couch that crunches when you sit down due to generations of potato chips ground into the cushions.

That's when I found the county dump. Apparently my taxes gives me the right to throw whatever I want over the cliff at the dump. I can't think of a better use for my tax dollars. The entertainment value alone is worth it.

You get to see what other people are throwing out, even though there is a severe sign prohibiting scavenging. I would have thought the smell alone would prevent you from retrieving anything for your home.

The fun is watching the offending articles sail through the air onto the heap. It has much more of a sporting feel to it than simply dragging it to the curb.

You test your skill by aiming your trash at old toilets or bathtubs. You can make new friends, because eventually everyone in the county comes to the dump. If you're nice to them, they'll even let you help throw their stuff over the cliff too. Just last week I helped new friends toss an entire hot tub over the side, accompanied by the appreciative "ooos" and "aahhs" of a gallery of children.

If there is a heaven with a men's section, I think it probably looks a lot like a dump.

Except I hope it smells a little better.


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