There’s nothing like a run to the dump – officially called a landfill - to cleanse the weary soul of accumulated garbage like a total full body purification ritual.
The dump is a meet-and-greet your fellow town folk place second only in popularity to the local diner on the rural life scale. It’s perfect for politicking and grabbing the latest bit of trashy gossip unfit for print.
I even had a proposal of marriage at a landfill far away from here. It’s a long story. A guy was chasing me in high school, and in a last ditch effort to get my commitment before I left for college, he made his proposal. Why we were there together I have no clue. I guess you could say that the boy got dumped.
Today, loaded down with plastics, cans, bottles and newspapers all semi- sorted at home, I arrive at our local dump. It’s a well-kept place, and depending upon the day of the week and time, it can be very busy with a line-up of contractors’ trucks and cars filled to capacity, or relatively quiet as a door mouse on a shaded porch keeping out of the cat’s reach.
I am not alone. A lady in a Milwaukee Twins baseball cap and denim Capri pants is parked next to the place I back in ever so carefully. I’m good at that even though I forget to trust my back up system on the dashboard one hundred percent of the time. She stops what she is doing, puts her hands on her hips and watches her car protectively, as if she doubts my driving skills. There’s a history of scratches and nicks I suppose in her life in parking lots, and she is of a cautious nature. When she is satisfied with my car placement, she pulls on her badly worn work gloves with a hole in each thumb and resumes her job.
She has an SUV. I miss mine on dump days. There is something about a roomy space knowing that at any given time you can pick up that vintage rocking chair on the side of the road yard sale, or get the supplies at the lumberyard. It makes me giddy with all the freedom for roaming at will.
My husband does the main trash, but he is not here in the second car this morning. That’s how we divide up the chore.
You wonder why we don’t have a truck. My husband used to have a blue truck that he drove into the ground so to speak. That was before my time. He claims that he can’t rationalize the need for one.
Parked on the other side of me is a gentleman who is more efficient with his organizational skills than I ever dreamed possible. I can tell because he has white buckets for each type of product properly labeled in black marker. He’s a serious dumpster. My haphazard collection of bottles and plastic spilling out must make him cringe.
He doesn’t pay any attention to me until almost at the end of my back and forth routine when he quietly tells me that I should relax. “You’re working too fast.”
Okay. I hear him and smile. I have no comeback ready. Instead I pick up my pace and get the job done. It’s just not the sort of place I want to hang. Heck. The overripe communal smells can sometimes get to me like on a warm summer’s day with its rising pungent odors.
I pull out the plastics first. So much comes wrapped that way at the supermarket. Sigh. The first tray is one for berries. We used it for liberally sprinkling paprika and putting it in the garbage can. It’s to keep the bear away from rummaging in our garbage cans, and it works. We forgot once early in the summer, and woke to a small amount of garbage strewn on our side lawn.
When I go to toss my newspapers and magazines over the fence into its section, I notice decent reading matter scattered on the concrete floor. Some of you will remember the days when the dump was a place for scavenging, and you would come home with one or two treasures, if not a gently used magazine.
I am wondering if there is proper attire for a visit to the dump.
The lady in the Milwaukee baseball cap and Capri pants – oh, she had on clean white canvass sneaks – appears sensibly dressed. The neatly organized gentleman wears baggy kaki pants and a sky blue nylon polo shirt. The woman in the Focus was maybe a tad overdressed – a floral colored matching outfit – and sandals. As for me, I am not a fashion plate on dump day and my jeans and tee shirt will suffice. Always sneakers. Once I wore sandals and cut my foot on a little bit of glass, and that was a good lesson in wearing sturdier shoes.
When I drive off, it is with a huge sense of relief that the job is completed and my junk is out of sight. My mood is no longer in the dumps. I’ve left it to the landfill people to figure out where it will move from here.