Down in the Dumps

One day last week, I was throwing some items into a dumpster. It was pretty full because someone had thrown away some big plastic bread trays. When I moved the trays, I noticed a big box of paperback books sitting right underneath them. I paused, pushed the trays to the other side of the dumpster and grabbed the box of books. As I picked up the box, I saw that there was another box of books underneath it. Ok. I put the first box into the back seat of my car.

I grabbed the second box, and lo and behold, what should I spy underneath it? More books. I looked around to make sure no one was watching me. I started moving things around on the top of the dumpster and I discovered that half the dumpster was full of boxes of books. There was some trash in there, but mostly flattened cardboard boxes and those plastic bread trays.

Unfortunately, most of them were at the very back of the dumpster where I couldn’t reach them. I tried my hardest, and after about 45 minutes, ended up with twelve “flat” boxes of books, along with a shit ton of loose books that had fallen out of the boxes that had been thrown in there upside down. I’d grabbed as many as I could reach and just tossed them into the back seat.

Everytime I saw a car coming, I would hide a little bit, or act like I was just rearranging the trash instead of digging around in it and taking things out. I managed to fill the backseat, and part of the front seat, but I had my bagpipes and stuff in there, and the dog. I didn’t want to get pulled over for making the dog ride on top of boxes, so I stopped and went home.

Now, I’m going to confess something else (as if taking shit out of a dumpster isn’t bad enough). Most of the books are romance novels. And some of them are very old, but they have nostalgic value for me because they are the same kind I read as a teenager. When I got home, I sat down in the recliner, and looked over at my husband. He knew something was up right away, gave me “the look”, and asked me what I had done. I told him the story about finding the books, and how there were more in there and I wanted them but couldn’t get them. I asked him if he would go back with me and pull out some of the boxes I couldn’t reach. He’s taller than me, plus some of the boxes were just too heavy for me to get. My upper back and arms already hurt from trying to reach them. He said, and I quote, “No way. I’m not climbing in a dumpster to save a bunch of romance novels. If they were the “classics” or even sci-fi, I could see doing it. And did you even think that maybe there was a reason someone threw these away?” Well, yes, I had assumed it was because they no longer wanted them. Duh.

I just sat here quietly, thinking about the remaining books and how I might be able to get to them. I have a small step stool, or maybe I could pull my car close enough that I could stand on the seat with the door open and reach in. Finally, MJ looks at me and sighs heavily. “Fine, let’s go get them. I can’t believe I’m agreeing to do this.”

We take his truck because my car is still full of books. We get to the dumpster and first take the books out that I had left behind because I’d run out of room. Then MJ got his “truck stick” out to try to reach some of the boxes at the back. They are flat fruit boxes, and had finger holes on each end, which made them perfect for snatching with the “truck stick”. (The truck stick is a “reaching” tool that MJ made by attaching a metal grappling hook to a long wooden pole. He uses it to reach for things at the far end of the truck bed, without having to remove the tonneau cover. It’s crazy dangerous.) He was very nervous though and didn’t want to be seen, and every time he saw a car coming, he would actually walk away from the dumpster. I was reaching in, grabbing books and throwing them into the back seat. I lost a few down in the crevices and almost cried. It was like I was saving a dumpster full of kittens.

It got to the point where even the stick couldn’t reach any more boxes, and neither one of us was really willing to actually get IN the dumpster. I know. Shame on me. But I was really afraid I’d never get back out. I’m fat and ungainly. I’d have had to live in the dumpster, foraging on scraps of food and rainwater the rest of my life. Or until the dumpster got emptied and I was squished to death in that big metal crushy thing in the dump truck.

After we picked Tee up from her summer math class (and believe me, I came very close to offering her money to get in that dumpster, I was obsessed with getting those books), the first thing she said was, “WTF is this shit?” (Well, ok not exactly, but close enough.) So I knew getting her to climb in the dumpster wasn’t going to happen, and I abandoned hope of getting the rest of them. (Cryface) She made fun of the titles of the books all the way home. She especially liked the one called “The Boss’s Christmas Baby”. (Yeah, I know, some of them will probably go right back to the dumpster.)

When we finally got home, I had the both of them carrying boxes in, and the very first box Tee picked up had a big ass spider in it. Boy, was she pissed. And now that the books are all stacked up in the living room, MJ is regretting helping me, too. I guess I better stop writing and start reading. Wish me luck!