I discovered the ‘in’ place to go on Saturday. It isn’t the cinema, Starbucks, T.J. Maxx or Fitness Edge. It’s the town dump. Get hip, c’mon down! The lines are so long, it’s like sneaking into Studio 54 back in the crazy disco days or going to a matinee of “Hamilton” wearing your Make America Great Again hat.
It’s a place where friends and enemies congregate. On Saturday mornings and afternoons — sometimes I go twice a day — I’ll meet old classmates, neighbors and politicians, not to mention estranged family members. You’ll never have this much excitement on Jerry Springer.
The dump meister, or whatever her title is, knows me by name because I’m one of her best clients, and we’re developing a personal relationship (purely platonic, I should add). She often comes out of her command booth to say hello, even though I don’t like to make small talk by the trash compactor while people are tossing in their garbage because the stench can be sickening. When we become BFFs, I plan to ask her to install Febreze air fresheners.
I also plan to lobby our selectpersons so they draft a town ordinance that discourages kibitzing among visitors when there’s a line of cars and trucks waiting to get in. Who wants to chitchat near a dumpster overflowing with smoldering garbage when you have a list of errands your spouse gave you to do?
You never know who you’ll run into — your pastor, who’s curious why he sees you at the dump but doesn’t see you in church. Politicians campaigning for office — couldn’t they hold their town meetings at McDonald’s? And your son’s social studies teacher — it never hurts to suck up to your kid’s teacher in a non-threatening social setting, while you’re tossing Hefty bags into the compactor:
“Mr. Denby, this may not be the time or place, but don’t you think Tommy deserved an A?”
“I just happen to have my grade book in the car. If you hold this bag of grass clippings, I’ll get it …”
At the dump, some people are dropping off garbage while others are picking up garbage. Some residents rummage through the mountains of bulky waste as if they’re shopping for a sofa or recliner at Bob’s Discount Furniture.
There are also the literati, who search through piles of books, looking for a first edition of “Gone With the Wind” or the Gutenberg Bible. I even saw a couple pull up to the scrap heap after I discarded two vintage typewriters, which they threw in the trunk of their BMW. They must have been antique dealers or junk collectors, which my mother used to insist are one and the same.
Over the years, I’ve left some valuable items at the dump, including an original print by the French artist Georges Rouault titled, “Satan.” I got it at an estate sale and didn’t realize it was Satan until I googled it. I thought it was Abraham or Moses or Jerry Garcia, but no, it was the Prince of Darkness himself and worth a few thousand dollars. But who wants Satan hanging in the dining room regardless of who created it, so I tossed it in the compactor and sprinkled holy water around the house.
Then, there was the GE microwave that the dump security wouldn’t let me discard unless I paid 15 bucks. When I told him it worked, he grabbed it for himself, which leads me to believe I should have charged him 15 bucks.
The dump is better than Amazon or the Vermont Country Store. There’s something for everyone — even birdwatchers. You can spot gulls, crows, vultures, bald eagles and hawks circling above the landfill. So hurry on down and bring your binoculars, along with a nose plug and a gallon of Germ-X.
I consider the dump a constitutionally guaranteed service in a democratic society. We used to have garbage pickup, but the sanitation specialists didn’t come often enough to satisfy our waste-disposal needs. You see, our dog only eats rotisserie chickens and we couldn’t have all those chicken parts stinking up the place. Plus it’s déclassé to keep garbage cans outside your house because it brings down property values and attracts raccoons, not to mention neighbors looking for treasures.
Joe Pisani can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.