Sunday, January 08, 2006

What's trash to you is treasure to me and vice versa

This morning there's live blogging going on from the Sills Bend garage sale, with some excellent illustrations that make you really think about the things we accumulate in life and how and why we keep them, or get rid of them as the case may be. I am still wondering how the Sills Bend household acquired the photo of the young Her Maj a-horseback and the wooden doll with the giant penis (not together) in the first place.

But what this post has reminded me of is my own experience last year with the local council's hard rubbish collection round, something I'd never actually made use of before. I put out a dead microwave oven, a wheelbarrow made of rust, a pair of small wrought-iron gates ditto, a big ancient lawnmower (also mostly rust) from which bits of metal had begun to fly off when in action and to which I had Blu-Tac'd a sign saying NO PETROL IN THIS MOWER, the frame of a folding tatami screen which got destroyed by the cats when kittens, an ancient suitcase that had travelled the world and was now full (after several years in the garage) of teeming insect life, and a lot of anonymous bits of wood of unknown origin.

And by the time the council truck arrived mid-morning, EVERY SINGLE THING HAD GONE.

Is this what usually happens?


Zoe said...

Yep. And the Council often sneakily collects days after it says it will to give the scavengers time.

I miss the excellent scavenging I used to get in Sydney. Canberra not so good.

Val said...

I thought this was a male thing to do, to inspect and discuss what others had thrown out and maybe go home with something "new". When we were young marrieds in Melbourne, the guys would do the rounds of the street, and the wives would grit their teeth and have to find space for the stuff. Confession: it is fun to look!

Lucy Tartan said...

Everything gone in less that 24 hours?!? You Adelaiders must provide a superior class of detritus.

Do you like Jonathan Franzen? He wrote a good essay about scavenging. It's in 'How to Be Alone'.

elsewhere said...

Yeah, same thing happened to me in Balmain. I wish i'd cottoned on to it sooner as the easy way of disposing of big pieces (like mouldy futons). I still have wine glasses, a bread bin and an office chair I picked up on separate occasions in Balmain. I was surprised people would take my rather less classy stuff.

R H said...

Valuable stuff gets thrown out. Especially in posh areas. A bloke I knew at the markets was sometimes picking up gaslight fittings and other Victoriana.
But if council workers spotted him there could be an enormous battle; they want the stuff for themselves. One one occasion they chased him in their trucks, sealing off both ends of a street to trap him. He had to crash through by driving up onto the footpath.

The law is a bit funny on this.
It seems that once it's chucked out for them it becomes council property. You can be ordered to put it back. Which happens quite often - if you get caught.
The people putting it out usually don't mind, providing you don't make a scattered mess of it all.

R H said...

Yes, and some of these scabby old buggers running stalls at markets like Laverton will grab anything. If they can't get fifty cents for some rusted up piece of rubbish they'll toss it themselves - eventually.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I can see that Sydney would provide much richer scavenger pickings than Canberra. (Especially in Balmain.) Raffish ol' town.

It may be mainly a male thing, Val, but there is a deeply crazy woman living across the road from me (and actually I should write a whole post about this old gal some time) who spends every pre-garbage day interfering with all her neighbours' rubbish and recycling. But I did enjoy the two blokes who were oldy-worldy enough to knock on my door on Hard Rubbish Day to ask if I minded if they took things. One was the cop two doors up, whose acquaintance I cultivate thoughtfully.

Lucy, ta v much for Franzen ref -- I have read a bit, but not that.

"Mouldy futons"? Elsewhere, you're a Virgo -- how is this possible?!

RH, ta v much for useful info on rubbish as council property. I might use it in my battle with the strange old chook across the road.

elsewhere said...

It was actually the futon base, it seemed, rather than the mattress. (It was unaccustomed to humidity of Sydney. At least it was on its way out.) As a Virgo, I often look at such things with horror, but feel powerless to do anything about them, due to the welter of do-gooding activities I've already scheduled for myself for the rest of the week.

Lucy Tartan said...

Why am I not surprised to hear that the woman who washed the Venetian blinds is a Virgo?

R H said...

Old mattresses are funny, no one wants them, you see them dumped everywhere. Even the bloody tip charges extra if you take one in.

I wanted to buy a second hand base and mattress at auction once and my wife got hysterical. "Someone might have died on it!" That's what she said. Yes well people have to die somewhere, they do it all over the place. In St kilda we used to find them up laneways, on street benches, in sheds, all over the place. If you could die indoors with the rent all paid up you were doing well