Yesterday when I got to work there was a message on my desk about a dumpster behind Blackham Coliseum that appeared to have some wood and metal furniture in it. Apparently Cristy Mast spotted the dumpster and felt I need to know about it. She was SO right. I need to know about all dumpsters, yard sales, and curbside trash heaps that might be hiding treasures.
I looked at the note off and on all day until I was finally able to make my escape from the office around 4:45. It's not like I'm required to wait for the 5:00 whistle or anything like that, I just had a lot to do and couldn't get away any earlier. Remember, I work at a church and I swear sometimes it feels like Sunday comes at least once a week. Sheeeesh.
Fortunately, I was already appropriately dressed for dumpster diving since I'd been working on a display for Sunday's service: an 8' question mark. Of course that makes it sound like at another time I would be dressed in such a way that would not be conducive to digging through trash. This is not the case. I'm pretty much always dressed for an impromptu garbage gala and I'm at a point in my life where I'm completely comfortable with that.
So I headed for Blackham just before 5:00 when the temperature was in the mid 90s with 347% humidity. Perfect. Since I didn't know exactly where the dumpster was located, I entered from the Cajundome Drive side and drove around, keeping a vigil eye opened for my target. Naturally, it was all the way around the other side which was really to my advantage since there's not as much traffic on that side. I pulled up as close as I could to the side of the dumpster, knowing that I would probably have to climb up on top of my car to see inside. This was one of those construction dumpsters, not the super huge kind but much larger than your average alley dumpster. The thing was probably 7-8 feet tall and, of course, the cheesy metal rungs that are supposed to be the ladder were all rusted and broken.
Not wanting to climb all over my car if I could avoid it, I grabbed the top edge of the dumpster and climbed up on the metal ledge that was on one end of it about half way up. This at least gave me a ledge to stand on while I surveyed the contents.
Construction dumpsters are some of my favorites since they can contain anything from sheet rock to glass blocks and they usually have very little "organic" trash in them. I can deal with the occasional fast food bag or even a wet cardboard box, but anything ickier than that will scare me off in a hurry.
I saw lots of broken furniture, most of it was particle board or "Lee Press-On Wood", as my sister would call it. There was some cardboard, something that looked like sheet rock, and I saw some metal chair legs sticking up at the other end. Since the items were much too large for me to move around by just leaning over the side and I knew the good stuff would be in the middle anyway (it always is), I leaned forward, swung a leg up over the edge and hauled myself into the dumpster.
I made my way over to the chairs and saw that they were some old office chairs. One was a like a secretary's chair on wheels and I remember my grandfather having a similar one in his office when I was a kid. When I moved some stuff out of the way to get a better look, I was suddenly hit with the unmistakable odor of dead animal. If you've ever had a 3 pound rat die in your attic in North Texas in the middle of August, you would know the smell I'm talking about, you never forget it. Common sense told me it was probably a little dead mouse or something so I looked down to make sure that I wasn't standing right next to it. This was the first time I saw the bottom of the dumpster and it was a good 3-4 feet below my own feet. I was perched on top of so much furniture and junk that I was no where near the bottom of the dumpster.
It was then that it dawned on me that I could step through something and break my leg and be stuck in this dumpster with the dead whatever that smelled so bad my eyes were watering. And what if I fell all the way to the bottom where I couldn't see out? I realized that all this time I had been climbing on top of this stuff so that I could still see over the top edge of the dumpster. But what if I was at the bottom with a broken leg, a head injury and a ruptured spleen? I wouldn't be able to see over the edge of my huge steel coffin. And what if I broke my iPhone in the fall?? That's it, I was done.
The lure of the old office chair wasn't enough to keep my imagination in check so I figured that was my cue that I didn't need it. I decided not to go out the same way I got in since I would be risking that broken leg, head injury, ruptured spleen, and the broken iPhone. Since I was closer to my car, I swung my legs over the edge and eased myself down onto the top of my car...until the metal started to buckle under my weight. That is one dent I did NOT want to have to explain to Jayson, so I stepped off of the car and onto the top of the tire before any real damage was done.
I headed home, a little disappointed that I didn't find any goodies this time but already looking forward to the next time a friend calls and says they saw some trash I need to dig through. That makes me feel loved.