Adventures in Dumpster Diving

You’ll never believe what I found! But first: it’s been three weeks. Three weeks since I was supposed to close on my dream house in Kensington-though-I’ve-been-telling-everyone-Fishtown and STILL NO HOUSE. I’m upholstering sh*t, painting sh*t, sanding sh*t and growing sh*t, all in the hopes of someday having a place of my own to call home. (Well, that and exhausting myself enough that I can actually sleep. My stress-induced insomnia is turning into stress eating and this is not good.)

On one hand my father is thrilled: the longer I take to move, the longer he’ll be able to keep his VW bus. (My mom, you see, wants him to sell it but he’s playing the “I need it to help Kat move” card.) On the other hand, he’s getting a bit irritated: my growing collection of second hand furniture and half-finished DIY projects is taking over his garage.

Yes, this is actually my dad, and yes, this is actually his bus,

Yes, this is actually my dad, and yes, this is actually his bus,

It all started with the couch: the $30 three-seat, dual-recliner couch my mom found at a church rummage sale downtown. I was on a date at the time but since my mother is the queen of bargain hunting and is forever on the lookout, said date turned into, “Give me just a minute, I’m so sorry but my mother is texting me pictures of used furniture. I’m buying a house you see. And there’s this great couch. Which reminds me, we parked in the one hour zone didn’t we? Yes, I’d better get going.”

Next was the antique ice chest that came along with the rental house my parents bought last year. (The perfect liquor cabinet with some new paint, no?)

Then I decided to reupholster a pair of chairs I found at a thrift shop for five bucks a piece. (Yes, eventually I’ll get around to finishing and eventually I’ll post pictures.)

A neighbor gave me an old TV. It’s very large and very heavy but it’s one less thing I’ll have to buy. Then there’s the dining room table from my late grandparents in my brother’s storage unit, which I’ll get so long as I manage to move out of our parents’ house before he does. Finally, my mother has given me carte blanche to any and all empty planters I can find on the roof deck or the in the crawl space and now that I’ve managed to keep my little Plant Hospital remnants alive for an entire two weeks, I am very, very into gardening. (I’m pretty sure, in fact, that it’s just a matter of time until I get my own show on HGTV.)

flowers

Look at these beauties!

I know I need to slow down a bit but what can I say? The flood gates are open, which is why, when I was driving home from a friend’s 4th of July party in Fishtown on what happened to be Garbage Day Eve, I nearly had a heart attack right there on Columbus Blvd.

There before my eyes was a tiny little barbeque grill and two PERFECT outdoor recliners. True, I don’t actually grill. And true, the chairs were the kind with plastic slats that stick to your legs and leave your thighs looking like you’ve just been through some sort of medieval torture chamber (and by “perfect,” I mean a bit faded and missing one slat) but still, they were just sitting there!

I called my dad immediately and asked him to bring the bus.

But then I got nervous. The chairs were next to a bunch of trash bags clearly destined for a landfill, but what if the chairs themselves we’re actually trash? What if their owners had set them out on the sidewalk in order to watch the fireworks?

I was too nervous to ring the doorbell on by own so I sat their trying to look as non-criminal like as possible until my dad rumbled up on the curb to help me assess the situation.

“What do you think?” I asked.

He knocked on the door but no one answered. “Tricky. Because they’re facing the river.”

“I know that’s what I was thinking. But you wouldn’t put your lawn chairs next to your trash if you were going to sit in them, right?”

(Good thing I teach anthropology and have therefore developed all sorts of archaeologically-related deductive reasoning skills.)

“Why don’t you leave a note?”

“Okay, good idea.”

So he packed everything into the bus and I wrote out a note on an envelope I found between the front seats.

Would you look at her form? Pointed toes and everything!

Would you look at her form? Pointed toes and everything!

It was perhaps a bit overly formal (“I’m assuming, seeing as these items were placed alongside your trash, that they are destined for the garbage men and have therefore salvaged them for my new house. However, if this is not the case, I am so sorry! Please text me and I will bring them right back. I live just a few blocks away. Thank you!!!”)

I spent the rest of the night anxiously checking my phone, terrified that the chairs and grill weren’t actually trash and that their owners would want them back. I wasn’t sure which would be worse: having to take them back and apologize to potentially very angry chair/grill owners or having to admit to myself that I was A) trash picking in the first place and B) stealing.

But 24 hours later and nary a text message, I relayed the story of my last night find to The European. I considered not telling him (after all, it was only our third date and he seems, as far as I can tell so far, very proper about things) but then I thought, F*ck it, if he can’t handle a woman who engages in the odd bit of strategic dumpster diving now and then, he can’t handle me and it would be better to know that now, right?

So I told him, and he cracked up.

“Let me get this straight: you bring your phone with us while we’re hiking in case I might be an axe murderer?”

“Yes…” (I had said as much an hour earlier. One can never be too careful when it comes to men-from-the-internet.)

“But you leave your mobile number with complete strangers?”

“Ummm… Yes. I didn’t want to have bad karma!”

Looking back, I guess I do kind of see the irony. But now I have two chairs, a barbeque grill and a clean conscience.

3 Responses to “Adventures in Dumpster Diving”

  1. Landlord

    AND…we are seeing some possibilities today, and yesterday’s viewing wasn’t half bad, it is actually growing on me 🙂

    Reply

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