Once in the newspaper, there was a coupon for ski tickets – and I am only going to assume that it was for Ragged Mountain because we didn’t ski anywhere else, but that’s beside the point. The point is, there was a coupon in every single person’s newspaper in our condo development and not everyone skied, and there wasn’t (silly Ragged) a limit on how many coupons you could use, so my father decided to get them all. He called the people we knew that didn’t ski, and then started roaming the recycling bins of our neighbors the night before trash day for more of the yellow flyers, he carefully racked up savings by trash picking. “They’re throwing them OUT!” He’d argue, and I’d silently watch the whole thing, amused, never embarrassed, and definitely excited for more skiing.
I would say that this was only alright in his mind because it was a piece of paper – anything else used by other people, especially ones he didn’t know was usually treated as if it was covered in the plague. He’d take a newspaper from the middle of a pile because “people touch the top one” and if anyone ever gave us pre-prepared food, he needed to know their family, their living conditions, and their lives inside and out before he’d even unwrap it. Bake-sales at school? Forget it. He wouldn’t touch a thing, but papers out of other people’s bins at the end of their driveways? Why not.
Unfortunately, I can’t ask him what the deal with that was, but I do know that I did get the trash-to-treasure gene, and not so much of the other-people-have-cooties thing, which makes the treasure options I can find around here incredible – as long as I can lug them home. Yes, people throw out Ikea furniture here, but they also get rid of antique pianos, like in the post I saw today, where someone posted a photo of two pianos sitting out on the sidewalk, ready to be taken away by a trash removal service. The Facebook community went wild, and after a few hours, they were all saved, tucked into another corner of this crazy city.
When I walk the streets with Luna, I get excited when I see piles of furniture out on the sidewalk. You never know what will be there, what can be useful, what is closer to bring home than ordering off Amazon or hauling it through the city on a bike or from Ikea in the back of a rented van. One night on my birthday I found a mirror tucked into an alley. Another night, there were baskets that now hold our firewood.
It’s an unspoken rule when people bring their smaller things to the trash bins – if it can still be used, they’ll place it just off to the side on the ground – not committing it to a fate in the bottom of a landfill just yet, just hoping one more person will take it back in again, save it until it’s really gone for good.
It’s another strange everyday happening when no one has the luxury of throwing things into the back of a truck and driving to a dump or leaving it out in enormous trash cans in front of each individual house. It’s a type of curiosity-recycling that functions quite well here most of the time, and we’re lucky that we don’t have more space in this house or one of the pianos would’ve been mine.