Dump Too

I take a somewhat perverse pleasure in going to the landfill. I don’t go often, but when I do, I look forward to it.

One reason, I suppose, is it represents a bit of a purge to house clutter. You look at my desk, and I’m one of the more cluttery people on the planet. That, I can live with – well, because I do. And no, I don’t like the landfill because my desk looks like one.  However, I’m getting more and more intolerant of clutter elsewhere in the house. So giving the house a virtual enema is always nice. Virtually.

The other reason is the landfill itself. It’s such delightful chaos. Let me explain.

We went to a nice Greek restaurant with friends recently, and during the restaurant’s little dance and entertainment break, plates were brought by, and we were asked if we’d like to break them. We, along with our dinner companions, declined. We were just too thrifty, and intentionally shattering a plate seemed wasteful.

The landfill is the opposing paradigm. Break, pound, hurl, shatter to your heart’s content.

Grandma and I cleaned out the garage, mostly, the other day, followed my a trip to the landfill. One of the things I packed into the dump load was a broken-down table with a mirror top. As I unloaded it at the dump, the mirror top slid out. Wonderful! I Frisbeed it into the great beyond, anticipating it to shatter into a thousand pieces. As it came closer to landing, the air resistance caught up, it slowed down to a fluttering near hover, and then almost gracefully turned over and landed on a desktop, intact, dull side up.

My anticipation was crushed like the mosquito I just now saw on my wall as I type this. Hey, you don’t get do-overs at the landfill. No climbing out and retrieving it to try again, and understandably so.  I imagined a panel of landfill judges sitting on the side holding up cards: “2.3. 2.4. 2.2. 2.0.” Landfill fail.

But here’s two landfill stories that I enjoy, and I guess you can tell how empty my life must be if I enjoy landfill stories. But as related by Johann, he and his wife, Belle, took a load there. That’s amazing in itself, because Belle is a hyperneat, fastidious lady, whom I will never let look at my desk. But they got there to unload, and Belle took out the first item and carefully placed it neatly at the edge of the pile. Johann laughed and said, “No, honey, you don’t get the concept here. See that TV cabinet way out there? We’re going to try to hit it.” She was horrified.

Delightful chaos.

The other story covers two trips. We had a wonderful foreign exchange student from Japan, Junko (June-koh)(yes, I know the written English expression of her name would seem to befit a trip to the dump, but she’s a lovely girl, so knock it off).

Soon after she arrived, yup, she accompanied me on a trip to the dump. I loaded up the van, she got in, we drove there, and it was a ripe day for the landfill, in the way that the remains of a meal of cabbage and fruit, thrown away and forgotten in the trash under the sink before you leave on a Friday night, returning Sunday night and opening the door to that, is a “ripe day” for the house. The bulldozers with their spiky terrifying wheels were roaring and coughing, the gulls were wheeling and screeching overhead, the prevailing wind was wafting to us over the detritus, and the smell was just tremendous.

I raised my arms in a big expansive gesture, smiled at my upcoming joke, and said, “Welcome to America, Junko!” She tried to smile politely. She was taking it in.

Fast-forward six or seven months. Junko’s still with us, her English improved about 400%, and we were all functioning along happily with the cultural enrichment as a blended family. And then one weekend, we did some declutterization once again and once again loaded up the family van.

I said, “Junko, do you want to come along?”

She said, “Are we going to America again?”

I tried to smile politely myself this time, but beneath the veneer, I was stunned. I was visualizing the letters and phone calls going back to Japan over the last six months, describing “America” as a land of piled up junk, with screeching ill-mannered birds, roaring machines of death, and a pervasive smell of rot and decay.

So I had some ‘splaining to do. It was, or it should have been, a good lesson in being careful how you inflict humor on the uninitiated.

I’m not sure I ever completely learned it.

— Grandpa

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