Friday, July 23, 2010

Miracle in the Trash Bin

Here goes my last shred of dignity: I'm making money off my neighbor's trash.

If you are one of my neighbor's, kindly stop reading now.

In our condo complex, we have a community dumpster, and within the trash enclosure we often find goodies. And I mean really good goodies.

Here's a list of just what I can remember:

1. a teak floor lamp
2. a man's beach cruiser bicycle, missing the seat
3. a Weber barbecue, with plastic cover
4. a folding bookcase
5. a Mission style, solid wood end table
6. a folding cart used to shop at flea markets (more on this in later blogs)
7. three metal Tonka trucks, the big vintage kind
8. a child's wooden school desk
9. a power jigsaw

I'm not sure why these things are placed here. It's actually against our association rules (along with lots and lots of other things) to leave things outside of the dumpster. But I assume it is a kind of slacker generosity. Too lazy to sell the items or donate them to a tax-deductible charity, the neighbors instead offer them to the men who occasionally troll the neighborhood with a pickup truck loaded with used items. Little do they know, they actually are donating them to the Keep Amanda Home with Her Children Fund. Most of these things my husband and I have dragged into our patio under the cover of suburban semi-darkness, listed them on Craig's List, and sold them for cash within three days.

I feel slightly guilty when the buyers call.

"Is it in good condition?" they ask.

"Yes," I honestly answer. But I wonder what they'd think if they knew, had they been in my trash enclosure 24 hours earlier, their new barbecue grill would have cost them nothing but their pride.

Only twice has this practice of ours actually been truly embarrassing. Once was when my daughter's friend saw the school desk in our backyard, and said, "Hey, my sister threw that in the trash yesterday." The other was when our next door neighbor looked quizzically at my husband as he rolled by on the beach cruiser -- seat now replaced. Apparently, it was his old bike.

Perhaps my mind works a little abnormally, but I can't help but feel blessed beyond measure by my garbage. In the last year, the ten households that use our dumpster have thrown away nicer things than most people in the world have ever owned. And since we are, like most single-income families these days, are on a tight budget, we resell items on e-bay and Craig's list to help make ends meet.

My six year old recently asked me, "Why are you pulling things out of the trash?" and I answered, bizarrely but truthfully, "Because God is providing for us in the dumpster." It's almost eerie sometimes. One day, Hubby and I had discussed a part we needed to fix our upstairs toilet (in a month that our "home improvement" line in the budget was already full), and the next day, we found the exact part, still in the packaging, sitting next to the trash. So I guess I'll take bizarre minor miracles over dignity any day.


  1. Love it! Thanks for sharing. I've never found anything in a dumpster, but I wouldn't be too proud to make money off someone else's trash!

  2. FYI, I'm THAT person that lazy person that throws stuff away. It's shameful. I'm full of laziness. in the past 4 months Gregg and I have thrown away Tyler and Nicole's crib (Gregg sawed it up so we could put it in our trash can) and shattered our glass-top dining room table because I didn't know what to do with it (we recycled the glass at least). It's horrible. I am SO LAZY!

  3. Its the Anderson rubbing off on you. Cody's initiation into the family was getting a bamboo trunk out of someone's trash in Morro Bay, I about peed my pants that night, but my Dad approved after that! Love all the treasure hunting, may you have continued success.

  4. Way to go Amanda! Love to sell things on craigslist and e bay. It takes time and work, so good for you for putting in that time and effort to better your family!