Monday, May 24, 2010

Trash Talk

Down the street from me a neighbor has put a gas grill up for sale. He has this item on display between the curb and sidewalk. Tomorrow is garbage day. People put their trash out tonight. There are also scavengers that roam the neighborhood on trash nights. They look for scrap metal, newspapers, anything that can be fixed up or sold for a few bucks. Can you picture this scenario?

I know the man down the street is looking to sell his grill. I can imagine one of these scrappers tossing it in the back of their truck tonight. I can even hear what they would tell the police if they got caught; "He was throwing it out, Officer." And the response when the cop points out the for sale sign; "He must have tried to sell it but couldn't so he threw it out. Why else would it be on the curb?"

I don't know if there are laws against scavenging. If not, then this would be the perfect crime. I know the police have seen these people before and have not bothered them. They may just consider this a very petty crime like taking forgotten change out of candy machine (Yes, that is against the law) and that is why the cops don't bother them. I know that when you throw away something, you give up your ownership rights. I also know that for the police to legally use your trash against you, they either have to have a search warrant, or wait until it is in the back of the garbage truck. I didn't spend the last 20 years watching "Law and Order" for nothing.

Speaking about garbage, do you know how hard it is to throw away a garbage can? I once tried to get rid of an old can. The first week I had trash in it with a sign that said "Please take." The garbagemen only took the trash inside, not the can itself. The second week I put the unwanted can on the curb empty with the same sign on it. The garbageman went through the motions of picking up the can, emptying its non-existent contents into the bin of the truck, and returned the can to the curb. The third week I put a longer note on it stating that the can itself was trash and to please take the can because I no longer wanted it. The garbageman went through the motions again. This time all that emptied into the truck was the note that he had not bothered to read. The fourth week I put the unwanted can inside another can to illustrate that it was trash and not of value to me. The garbageman ended up separating the cans leaving them both upside down on the curb. Finally on the fifth week I wised up and put a "For Sale" sign on the can. It was taken away in the middle of the night by a scavenger.

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