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Sadly, dumpster-diving days long gone

When I took the trash out the other day, I realized my dumpster-diving days are over. There, by the dumpster, was a really good designer chair. I looked at the thing. All that was wrong with it was the canvas on the seat had given way. A good cleaning, a few stitches and I’d have a groovy chair for my pad.

Then I got to thinking.

Would I take the time to clean it? Would I stitch up the canvas? Then, how would I really feel about this chair once it was in my place. Would I appreciate it or would I look at it every time and think “I pulled that thing from a dumpster; why didn’t I just go out and buy one?”

I never really was a professional dumpster diver. I suppose it was just a phase I went through, kind of going along with my philosophy of recycling as much as possible.

I’d be taking out the trash, open up the lid, put my bag in and something would catch my eye. There were also the times someone put a piece of furniture by a dumpster and it’d catch my eye while driving by.

The last time I pulled some good stuff from a dumpster was a couple of years ago. I was taking out the trash, opened the lid and there were all these compact discs and magazines.

I stood there looking at the stuff. It’s just a habit of mine to wonder at things. I wondered why someone would throw all this away. I figured some guy was getting married and he was tossing the remnants of his bachelorhood: heavy metal music, men’s magazines and such.

Or maybe he had gotten married and the new bride chucked it all.

I’ve marveled at the things people have thrown away.

There are folks who scrounge in dumpsters regularly who say the best place to be for dumpster treasure is a university town in late spring when the academic year is over. Students who don’t want to lug things home toss televisions, microwaves and other perfectly good items. Not a lot of them, just enough to keep it interesting. I wondered why they didn’t take the things to some charity thrift shop.

In Arizona, I worked at a place that went headlong into the digital age, putting a bunch of perfectly good but outmoded broadcasting equipment in the nearby dumpster. I discovered it when I took some trash out and thought of a friend.

I had gotten acquainted with the announcer at the radio station in the tiny border town of Naco, Sonora. Most of his equipment was run down, he had run out of parts and money to fix the stuff. I pulled the tossed equipment from the dumpster, loaded it in my car and headed into Mexico. When I showed him my haul he had a grin from ear to ear.

But my dumpster diving days are over.

Nowadays I like to look for treasure at yard sales. I think I’ve moved up a bit.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at:

[email protected]

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