GNH Lumber Windows October 2023

Whittling Away: To the dump


By Dick Brooks

For Capital Region Independent Media

Headshot of a man named Dick Brooks.

I awoke the other morning feeling a need for change in the daily routine. I needed to do something out of the ordinary to put a little excitement back into my life. I decided to go to the Transfer Station. 

I still call it “The Dump.” The Queen has corrected me frequently enough that I say, “Transfer Station” in her presence, but mentally it remains “The Dump.”

I did my customary lap around the house, gathering up the contents of our many and varied waste baskets, I pulled the garbage bag out of the large container in which it resides and stuffed the house’s collection into it. It fit with only a little persuasion and a few knee bumps. Some weeks it requires grunts, groans and a full fanny sit. 

I tie the top, noting with satisfaction that there are no foreign objects poking through the bag, allowing garbage to leak out, and stuff it into Casper, the Friendly Kia’s commodious back end.

So much for the throwaway stuff, on to the recycling. 

We put all the stuff to be recycled into one large old clay crock. This means either I have to put it in a separate bag, haul it to the transfer station and sort it there, which involves running back and forth between dumpsters and small buildings like a rat in a test maze, or sorting it before I leave the house, which is what I start to do. 

I have a system — I have cleverly driven screws into the garage door’s framework on which I hang three empty grocery bags. I then sort the contents of the recycling crock into the bags — cans in the top bag, plastic in the middle bag and glass in the bottom bag. I tie off the bags and stuff them into the car. 

All that remains is to flatten any cardboard boxes and tie up any newspapers lying around and try to add them to the by-now-bulging mass that Casper’s trying gamely to swallow.

I hop into the driver’s seat and pull out of the yard and being out of earshot of any local critics, I sing my Lone Ranger song — “To the dump, to the dump, to the dump, dump, dump.”

All too soon I arrive at the transfer station. First, I bring the papers to the paper shed. Next the flattened cardboard goes to the flattened cardboard shed, the glass bottles go onto the sorting table near the glass dumpster, then the plastics’ bag is carried to the sorting shed for plastics.  The table is overflowing as usual, while the nice man who does the sorting tries his best to keep ahead of it.   

I help by flattening the milk jugs before I put them on the table. The last bag of recyclables contains the week’s cans. I carry them to the dumpster, empty them over the side and pause for a bit to look at the contents of the dumpster.

It always amazes me how many coffee cans are in there. I don’t think I’ve ever thrown away a coffee can willingly. Such a nice big container with a tight fitting top, the possibilities are endless. Given enough empty coffee cans, a large supply of duct tape and a barrel or two of WD 40, most of the world’s problems could be solved. 

The dumpster sides are just too tall so I leave the cans and drive the garbage bag over to the building with the squisher, pay the nice man and head for home. Enough excitement for today!

On the way home I spend a few moments remembering trips to the dump when the dump was really a dump. No Dewey Decimaling the trash — you just drove in, waved to the guy in the little booth near the entrance, drove to the pile and tossed everything onto it. You could then look around and see if there was anything lying there that you might use.

I frequently returned home with more in the car than I had left with, but it was all good stuff. I’ve still got stuff I found at the dump 20 years ago. My sons loved going, it was one big treasure hunt. Recycling without the hassle. 

The old dump had it all — excitement, discovery, treasure and if you had brought your pellet gun, big-game hunting. Nothing like staring down the barrel of your trusty rifle at a snarling 12-pound dump rat to get your heart pumping, and as if that wasn’t dangerous enough, there was always the added thrill of trying to explain to your wife why you had hauled home all the junk you had in the car. 

The transfer station may seem tame, but it’s probably a better idea from the standpoint of family relationships!

Thought for the week — “You know you are getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.” — Bob Hope

Until next week, may you and yours be happy and well.

Reach columnist Dick Brooks at

Related Posts