Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meditation on a Garbage Can

Tonight while walking the neighborhood with my wife, I spied what looked like an entire drum set piled into and around the garbage cans that were put out for pick up tomorrow morning. I saw a bass drum, two mounted tom-toms, a floor tom-tom, and a high hat. I didn't see any cymbals. It wasn't top-of-the line, but it probably was complete (or nearly complete) and functional.

That old set could have been donated to the Goodwill or the Salvation Army. It could have been sold to a pawn shop for a few dollars. It could have been given to a young person who wanted to play drums--or to an old person (me) who used to play drums and would enjoy having even a beat up set to beat up on again. (I have a drum solo coming up at my church talent show on Saturday, so I need the practice.)

It was too late to knock on the people's door to ask if I could take the set. When I got home, I called the non-emergency police number to find out if taking things out of garbage cans was illegal, but they were too busy to give me an answer. So, I decided against "operation drum rescue."

So, the old drum set sits in the garbage and will soon be crushed and wrecked by the lumbering, roaring, filthy trucks that come at dawn. What a shame. We dispose of so many good things. Then we acquire more things, only to dispose of them thoughtlessly all too often. We think that if X has little or no value to me, then X has no value period. That is wrong and selfish.

Our garbage tells quite a story. I can only imagine what the garbage men have seen. What a waste when waste is not waste.


Anonymous said...

One's disposed of garbage is free for the taking. In our previous cult adventures we did a good deal of garbage diving. That was nearly 25 years ago, I can only imagine how is now much more profitable it would be now.

Fletcher said...

If you would have called me yesterday I would have made time to drive over there and take this drum set!

Doug Groothuis said...


You would have been in bed.

Zarathustra said...

Around here, pilfering the garbage is a time honored tradition. When I have useful items to dispose of I put them on the curb in the early afternoon. Before the garbage truck comes the next morning everything of value is long gone. I consider this a convenience, since I don't have to load up my Jeep and travel to Goodwill

Jim Pemberton said...

We have no idea, the value of our garbage. One group of people we have ministered to live off the city dump of Maracaibo, Venezuela. (Keep in mind that people do not flush toilet paper there but throw it away.) The people who live off the dump go through the fresh garbage for anything they can eat, wear, build with or resell. It'll break your heart to see this.

My user photo was taken there with a girl who is a sister in Christ who lives there. She and her mom didn't stop praising God for all He does for them the whole time they were with us. I listen to prayers of fellow believers who thank God for all the blessings we have and I wonder that we could call all the stuff we have in the US "blessings". It's all decaying and is ultimately no better than garbage anyway. It would be better if this fact were a little more obvious to us.

Martin said...

Technically, taking other people's garbage is illegal. While it's in the garbage can, it's still the property of the garbage can's owner. Once it is in the Dumpster, then it is the property of the municipality that owns the Dumpster. When Eric Rudolph, the fugitive wanted for bombing the Atlanta Olympics, was finally caught by the police, it was because he was Dumpster-diving behind a grocery store. And after all, you do not want identity thieves claiming a right to search your garbage for credit card applications. Furthermore, Dumpster-diving entails certain risks; what if you fall in, break your ankle, and cannot get out?

That being said, I respect time-honored traditions as much as the next fellow, and there's a good chance I would have yanked those drums out anyway.