Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"ARGH! We all be wantin' at that treasure."

Why do we all have a special place in our hearts for pirates? I’m pretty sure it has nothing to do with their goofy costumes or crazy euphemisms. Perhaps we all aspire to drink pillaged Jamaican rum while living a life on the high seas. No rules holding us back no 6AM wake ups, no commute to work, no rush hour(s), just the open sea and a flask. This could be it though I keep having visions of the incredibly painful head ache that would accompany that type of life style. No, I think we fantasize about pirates because we all secretly want at that treasure. This same fantasy is what forces us off the road whenever we come across yet another garage sale arrow. We’re all suckers for treasure. And just like a band of scalawags we horde our treasures. If we don’t know what to do with it now we bury it to be unearthed in our greatest time of need.

Scrap ribbons go in the old chocolate box, buttons in one of the many briny smelling jars that once contained pickles, lumber between the garage and the fence, old clothes in the back of the closet (every closet)... All of our treasures have value or at least they might some day. Not too long ago the collecting of useful objects was a necessity as there were little resources to spare. Now I’m afraid this remnant of the hard times of our past has turned from necessity to illness. Either we are unsure how to recognize when we have enough rubber bands and bread tags or this condition is due to the overwhelming abundance of bounty available to us. Some time ago I was introduced to a buccaneer who spoke of life in the time after the last Great War, a time before rural electrification or the commonality of the flush toilet. When I asked this mate why they had hundreds of rolls of toilet paper in their home the response was, “I never want to run out,” and, “They were on sale”.

So we end up saving all these things for a rainy day, praying that such a day never comes, and just like pirates we forget where our treasure was buried. In some cases this may be due to an over consumption of rum and/or pickles, but usually it’s due to the fact that we are all too busy following our soaps to remember and, as it turns out, we all suck at drawing maps. After all how could we possibly be expected to remember all the things we have acquired let alone where we put them? I can imagine what a map may look like... Five paces North, North East from the broken swing set you discarded last week because the kids no longer used it, past the unplanted half built garden plot filled with weeds, West at the pile of half broken cinder blocks you hoped to use to make an outdoor kitchen, three steps South past the collection of worn out snow shovels and broken broom handles, and here you will discover the mind you lost, X marks the spot.

We simply own too many things to account for it all at any given time. Since we can’t seem to keep track of our things without maps we all end up buying more. Here is an example of this neurotic behavior...

“I saved all these buttons in a pickle jar so that I could make a bracelet for my aunt’s birthday. When I went to build the bracelet I couldn’t find the jar so I had to go out and buy some buttons. That’s okay though ‘cause I found this huge hat box full of buttons at a garage sale on my way to the store. I built the bracelet then I stored the hat box on the shelf above all the old pickle jars. My aunt loved her bracelet so much that she said she decided to make some for her friends with a few of the buttons she has in a jar in her basement.”

The above story may or may not have happened to you but I’m sure you can still relate to this scenario somehow.

Burying our treasure makes it harder to find when we need it, and though it is buried it does not go away. Remaining organized with up to date maps can help manage what you have but the best way to stave off this wicked plague is to stop the accumulation at its source.

Perhaps we all would be better off on the high seas, living a simple life with our mates, our rum, and a few euphemisms. After all, these are our true treasures aren’t they?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Score one for the team

With the outcome of my last outing resulting in an empty hamper I was determined to make a great find. So the other night I went out once again and visited a couple of the bins that were empty the first time I looked. I wasn't out for long but I did discover a bin which should keep my family and friends fed quite well I think. Tonight we feasted on breaded mushrooms and they were divine. As time passes I am sure to find even more great places to plunder.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The hunt will continue

In a new town once again and time to discover my new route.

I decided to first explore the downtown core to see what the local little guys were discarding. I was not surprised to find most were either guarded by lock or had little to nothing to offer.

Next it was off to the larger stores located on... you guessed it, on the outskirts of town. Often larger grocery stores make use of industrial trash compactors due to the sheer volume of waste they deal with. Compactors are usually sealed up quite tight from the outside and if they aren't, the risk of climbing in is a strong deterrent, not to mention most items are squashed beyond use.

Some of the very large stores will often have a separate bin to handle larger object such as bicycles, old racks and shelving, pallets and all the returned electronics, clothes, appliances and so on. These bins are great, I've even encountered cases of fruit and vegetables thrown out due to too much stock. These are goldmines especially around x-mas.

As with the downtown core the larger grocery outlets and department stores came up dry. I did discover that the large dollar store and the business supply store had open bins, though they were mostly empty at this time and thus unfruitful.

Lumber yards and hardware stores usually have their bins locked up within the yard making them inaccessible. There is a lumber yard in town that has a "Firewood" area where you can come in during the day and pick up all their discarded stock. Just the other day I managed a load of 1x4 fence boards. There were two full pallets available, I took what I needed and hardly made a dent in the pile.

By this time I was feeling pretty down about my empty trunk and was ready to head home when I decided to take a quick look through the industrial area on the far side of town. What I discovered was a lot of oil field related businesses, a few manufacturing plants with chain link fences and commercial shops. On a bright note I stumbled upon a grocery wholesale outlet with a large open bin, empty again but surely not for long, and a cabinet shop with a bin hosting slightly damaged doors, hardware, sand paper and remnants from production. I didn't need any of this but I'm glad I discovered it just the same.

So it was a bust and I came home empty handed. I did however learn a lot about my city and know where to look in the days to come, when the bins have a fresh load. I am going to give some thought to approaching the produce managers directly and ask for their wilted produce, if asked why I could claim to want it to feed my animals, (a.k.a. the family). With the treasure locked up in a compactor I have nothing to lose.

The hunt will continue and the treasure will be unearthed.