White trash swamp meet? White trash flea market, maybe?
This week, in my little town of Princeton, IL, people are going through each other’s trash, pulling what they want, tossing it into their broken-down trucks, their rust-stained station wagons, and taking it home. NO doubt they are spreading it out all over their garage floors and gloating by incandescent lamp light over their treasures.
But perhaps I’m being cynical and mean-spirited. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Every spring, the city allows people to clean out ANYTHING they want: furniture, paint, old oil, tires, swing sets, clothes, whatever. Pile it by the curb, the city says, and we’ll take it away for you. It’s pretty cool, actually. A chance to completely clean out and clean up and all for free. No taking it to the dump yourself, no coughing up a few bucks per car load of crap, no feeling like you’re hurting the environment by tossing out all the shit you never should have bought in the first place.
Instead, let the city do it. Out of sight, out of mind. You’re not actually dumping it, the city is, hence not your garbage, not your environmental problem.
But what makes me laugh, and creeps me out just a little around the edges, is the garbage hunting. Cars literally drive up and down street after street, looking at everything piled in front yards, pouring over everything, every torn shirt or frayed bra, every stained mattress or scratched DVD of Alyssa Milano’s “Embrace of the Vampire.”
Last night, I couldn’t get off the block, couldn’t get past the pile-up in the middle of my block. Two cars parked on their respective sides of the street and between them, a Gremlin (I shit you not) and a Chevy truck, all four side by side, lined up waiting for Evil Knievel to blast his ass over them on that red, white, and blue motorcycle.
I don’t know what those people were looking at, what they were collecting, I simply realized I was stuck in traffic in a town of 7,500. More than that, I was stuck in traffic for TRASH!
LuAnn tells me that Aurora, the ‘burb of Denver where we lived for ten years, did the same thing except the garbage was piled in the alley. Maybe, but I don’t remember it. And I sure as hell don’t remember people staking out piles of garbage like those whack-jobs already standing in line for Star Wars Episode III tickets.
And yeah, I have thought of two, maybe three, different stories, each based on this odd ritual.
Actually, it would make a great scene in the play I’ve always wanted to write: “White Trash Parade of Homes.” Maybe, someday, when I’ve nothing else to do, I’ll write that freakin’ play. But not now, not today or tomorrow or the rest of this week. After all, I’ve got all kinds of new toys sitting on the greasy floor of my garage and I just bought a brand new incandescent bulb. I’ve got some gloating to do.