The Suitcase Lady


January 7, 2014, 8:10 pm

Going to the dump was a ritual of rural life in times past. When my husband was a little boy growing up in northern Wisconsin, the trash and garbage was dumped during the day and the bears were viewed at night. But his family, like many others, left the farm. My guy was a city person for the next forty -five years.

However, we now live in the country, and going to the dump is again part of our routine. “Dump” is not the correct word, but the one we use from habit. Recycle Center is the correct name, and it is a place our entire town can take pride in. Neat, organized, well-run and odor free, we can have confidence that the items we so conscientiously sort are actually being recycled.

The same could not be said for our big city trash collection. Numerous times I watched as our carefully washed bottles and de-labeled cans were all dumped willy-nilly into the big, open mouth of the garbage truck. “No way,” my brain screamed, “could those poor souls who sorted this mess at the recycle plant’s conveyer belts get this to work.”

On Saturday morning my tiny Hyundai Accent becomes the garbagemobile. The buckets of aluminum cans, tin cans and bottles fill the trunk. Bundles of newspapers and flattened cardboard boxes get the back seat. Household garbage gets jammed in any empty space available.

From nine to three, a steady flow of cars pour into the Recycle Center and are watched over by the friendly couple who manage the site. A combination of vigilant over site and peer pressure assures that no dumping occurs. We citizens of Centerville file our recyclables. Not a can or scrap of paper litters the ground.

It took me a while to catch on to another aspect of the site of which my husband had not cued me in. Unwanted items that are usable are lined up along one outside wall of the recycle shed and are free to the takers. This can be problematic. Recently someone set out scores of books and I ended up bringing more things home than I left off.


3 Comments for this entry

  • Sutapa

    Per usual enjoyed reading your post. Kudos to the recycling center you described. We have a different model in Menlo Park and I like it very much too. It is a three bin system — one for compost, one for single stream recycling and one tiny trash can for garbage. They get picked up on a weekly basis. We have easy access to donation drop offs for books, shoes and clothes. This model would not be cost effective in the country side but in cities it is working very well.

  • Ann Piehl

    Hi Mary,
    You would like the dump my sister uses in Monterey, CA. They call the section of re-usable items the Last Chance Mercantile.
    Happy New Year.

  • Karen Little on Facebook

    OMG, even in this day of the Kindle and Nook, discarded books are irresistible.