Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Picking, Grinning and Bearing It

A few weeks ago, it was junk set out in our neighborhood.  In Louisville, residents can set out large items twice a year, and Solid Waste will pick them up and haul them off for free.  They used to do it once a quarter, but that got cut back due to budget deficits.  I miss the quarterly schedule because I never can seem to get it together for the twice-yearly set outs.  If I had two more chances a year, maybe I could hit one of them.

Anyway, different parts of town have different set out schedules.  You can start setting out the weekend before your pick up week and have to have everything out by Monday.  Some time during the next week, the trucks will be by to haul off your stuff.

Of course, with the setting out of junk, out come the pickers and the scrappers, looking for junk to sell and scrap to take to the recycling center.  They start roaming the 'hoods in their pick up trucks start during the weekend set out and, by Tuesday, they'll have everything picked clean.  All that's left will be disheveled piles of busted furniture and the scattered contents of opened boxes and ripped bags, which will sit in moldering heaps until Solid Waste comes through.

I usally try to get out at least once during the set out period to hunt for stuff.  People will set out some really great stuff, sometimes in new condition, to be hauled away.  It blows my mind when they could be selling some of the stuff in a yard sale or Craigslist, or at least donating it somewhere.

These are my finds for this go around. It's a small batch, because I just stayed in my immediate area and prowled around on foot.  Space is getting kind of tight in my house, so I wanted to keep from getting too greedy.  Sorry for the lack of pics, but I mislaid my camera and many of these items have gone through the booth on to new homes.

One good-sized box of Happy Meal and other small toys.  (I sell these in bagged sets, concentrating on the most recognizable characters and toys.  I culled out about half the box to donate on to Goodwill and kept what will be the best sellers for me.

An enameled stew pot, with the words "Soups and Stews" painted on it,  surrounded by small images of assorted meats and veggies.  It even had the lid.  It cleaned up really nice and sold the week I out it out.

An old pic of a ship, which sold quicker than I thought it would.

A stash of old cans and bottles, many with labels and lids.  Nothing super, super old, but everything was glass and pre-bar code.  The coolest was a glass Windex bottle.

A stack of vintage women's magazines.

An old religious magazine.

Some old health pamphlets.

A paddle for a canoe. It was weathered and chippy, so I thought it would make a good wall hanging for the right person, who apparently was out looking for one, because it sold already.

The top to a trophy.  It's solid metal and really heavy.  Very cool.

Like I said, a small haul. but it was enough to slake my junk-thirst, yet keep me from getting into trouble at home.

The bottles and cans and magazines were all at one house.  There was a huge pile of stuff at the curb.  It looked like a basement that had not been touched in decades had been cleaned out and dumped in a pile.  Apparently, the person saved everything, because I took two bags of cans and bottles, but only scratched the surface of what was there.  (I debated going back the next day, but it started raining, which pretty much spells the end of junking.  You don't want stuff once it gets wet.)

I ended up having to make two trips to this particular pile, because I reached the limit as to what I could carry.  I had to run home, grab another bag and go back.  When I got back, there was an old man, who had not been there before, sitting on the porch of the house next door.  When I walked over to the pile, he started yelling at me.

Old Man:  "There ain't nothing there for you."

Me:  You never know.  I like old stuff.

Old Man:  "I said there ain't nothing there for you."

Me:  (To myself, having decided that discretion was the better part of valor):  "Crazy coot."

Old Man:  "Get out of there.  I don't want you spreading that mess out all over the place.  Stupid people looking for shit."

At this point, I just decided to ignore him.  It wasn't his stuff and it wasn't in front of his house.  There really wasn't anything he could do, other than sit and cuss, which he continued to do.  He did have a point about the mess, but I pride myself on picking neatly.  I never leave the place in a mess and return everything I move to as close to its proper place as possible.  Just because you're trying to make living off someone else's junk that doesn't mean you have an excuse to be a slob.

Actually, it's the way that so many pickers and scrappers go about collecting that causes so many people to resent them.  I've got some guidelines I follow to try and set a new example.  Maybe they can help some newby pickers.

1.  Be neat.  See above.  Other people have to live and, especially, park on that street until the junk gets picked up.  Have a modicum of consideration for the residents.

2.  Be polite.  It does no good to get into arguments with people who live there, which is why I chose not to engage the old dude.  If he had chosen to get off the porch and get in my face, I probably would have backed down and moved on.  It's not worth the risk of escalation for a bunch of junk. There's always more on the next corner.  Besides, you can come back later.

3.  Be discreet.  Don't pick in the middle of the night and make a bunch of noise.  Don't pick when the home owners are sitting on the porch staring at you.  That's a personal preference of mine, but I think it feels really tacky to do that when they're watching you.  Maybe I just need to get over it.

4.  Don't get greedy.  There's more than enough to go around.  You don't have to have it all, especially if it makes you grabby around other pickers.  Really, how much are you going to make on all this stuff anyway?

5.  Know the law.  Yes, it seems like everybody curb-picks, but in some cities, it might be against the law.  Know the risks you might be running.  This is another argument for being neat and polite.  People tend to complain and call for penalties when they perceive a nuisance.  If there's no nuisance, they've got no grounds to complain.

6.  Be decent.  Don't pick when it's pretty obvious someone has been set out or evicted.  It's one thing to deal with items people are declaring they don't want.  It's another to rifle through and take someone's worldly possessions.  Remember, an eviction means that a person has forfeited the right to reside in a particular dwelling.  It doesn't mean they've forfeited the right to their stuff.

7.  Be careful.  Watch where you stick your hands or step.  Anything can hide in a junk pile.  Go in pairs if possible.

That's my take on things, at least.  Your mileage, of course, may vary.  I just think that there are better ways to do this picking thing than I've seen some others do.  Maybe if we all try a little harder to be more conscientious, it'll make a difference.

1 comment:

Kim said...

Eddie I love reading your Blog, you should write a book, i bet it would be a big seller!!