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Junk Day

Maister

Chairman of the bored
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26,738
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Many communities have an annual junk pickup program. Our city pickup is scheduled this week. Last night the family was driving to the Y when I happened to see someone was throwing out a perfectly good office swivel chair. I have no idea why they were disposing of it, but I do know the chair has nothing wrong with it and shows no signs of wear. Maybe they didn’t have room for it, or maybe it was the wrong color…who knows. All I knew was that we were in the market for a new desk and chair for Junior’s bedroom and fate had seen fit to place it in our lap. So I popped the trunk and Junior tossed it in.

Mrs. Maister was mortified... appalled that we would dare sully ourselves by picking through other people’s TRASH. You know, that’s what winos, homeless people and drug addicts do. Decent respectable folks don’t do that! I considered for a moment where that attitude might have come from and immediately an image of a monocle dropping from my FIL’s eye came to mind.

So ‘junk day’ was not a part of my wife’s childhood experiences. Too bad for her. I have the fondest memories of finding all sorts of treasures during junk week: a pair of stilts, Hoppity Hop, a frisbie disc hoop set, Star Wars posters, even a freakin’ bicycle one year that I rode until high school. On top of that, there was usually all sorts of scrap lumber and other materials that we kids used to build tree forts, and neighborhood club houses.

As an adult over the years I’ve picked up several snow shovels, a weed whacker (that apparently needed nothing more than replacement cord), a dry bar and barstools, a perfectly good golf bag/pull cart.

How about you – any other low-life trash pickers out there?
 

WSU MUP Student

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9,560
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One of the perks of being an early morning runner and running through the pricey neighborhoods is the great finds on garbage days and this is starting the best time of year for picking since people are doing their spring cleaning.

Some highlights of things I've found in the past few years: a large old school Coleman metal cooler in fantastic condition, a painting easel for my daughter, a nice set of vintage aluminum folding lawn chairs with the strappy vinyl seating, a globe that I've pinned down to the late '50s (it's in great condition except Antarctica has been sort of peeled away), all sorts of small high-quality gardening tools (spades, shovels, forks, etc.), and croquet sets. Oh my god the croquet sets! I usually see 3 or 4 croquet sets of various condition and quality at the curb each month in the spring and summer. The first time I picked one, I kept it for a few weeks before finding a better one and then trading up. I did that probably a half dozen times over a couple of years before giving up and just keeping what we currently have.

If I find something good but small while I'm out on a run or walk I'll just carry it home with me. If it's something large, I'll make a note of where I am and swing past in my Jeep as soon as I am done and pick it up. The globe was pretty cool but it was too large to carry while I was running and I was afraid somebody would take it so I tossed it in some bushes to hide it so I could come back later to get it.

My wife used to think my garbage picking ways were gross but she's gotten over it.
 

dandy_warhol

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8,959
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30
People around here put their junk out a day or two prior to our weekly trash pickup. It often disappears before the garbage truck makes its rounds.

We've disposed of some old furniture, a car seat, and a lamp this way.

We have picked up some nice old Fisher-Price little people toys and a little tykes car from the curb.
 

JNA

Cyburbian Plus
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24,579
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50
In my fair city the schedule map is posted well in advance so "pickers" know which neighborhoods to go to.

Good example - my neighborhood pick up day is May 8th. So "stuff" will be curb side at least 2 days before.
 

mendelman

Unfrozen Caveman Planner
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Walked a plastic kids playhouse home (about 3 blocks) during my walk from work that day.

It's an awkward thing as it was assembled, so I simply got inside, lifted it up (it helps being 6'-1") and 'carried' it home.

That must have looked interesting to passerbys. A kids playhouse walking down the street under it's own power. :)

Then, and most assuredly now, I'm too old for shame. I had three baby boys at home. They needed two playhouses.
 
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Planit

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11,605
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35
FREECYCLE!

The patio set on the side porch (chairs needed a good cleaning was all)
Old school trunk
Various yard tools
several other pieces that I do not remember right now - Mrs. P didn't think much of it in the beginning but after the patio set it was just okay.
 

DVD

Cyburbian
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13,556
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36
Junk day in the Phoenix area people came by and took all the scrap metal, took the broken up shelf thing, but left the trash bags full of trash all tied up.

Junk day in Kansas, people came by and opened every bag to find "treasures" and left the bags open and crap everywhere.
 

Whose Yur Planner

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10,429
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32
Walked a plastic kids playhouse home (about 3 blocks) during my walk from work that day.

It's an awkward thing as it was assembled, so I simply got inside, lifted it up (it helps being 6'-1") and 'carried' it home.

That must have looked interesting to passerbys. A kids playhouse walking down the street under it's own power. :)

Then, and most assuredly now, I'm too old for shame. I had three baby boys at home. They needed two playhouses.
POTD and a great visual.
 

terraplnr

Cyburbian
Messages
2,160
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23
I don't think we have a specific junk day (I've never heard of one around here) but I've taken quite a few things from neighbors who have left things curbside on their way out. It doesn't seem any different than buying something at the thrift store (other than it's free).
 

RandomPlanner

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Messages
1,547
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22
I love good junk!! We have a saying here -- "the lane giveth and the lane taketh away".

When I first moved to this part of the world and didn't have a car, I'd walk the lanes daily as part of my commute. Once I found a bf with a truck, I would call him all the time and say "I'm standing here at XX and I just found a YY; do you have time to come get it?" My best finds in the lanes were:
  • heart pine floor boards that had a checkerboard design painted on them probably 80+ years ago (bf made them into an amazing picture frame for me)
  • a set of Adirondack chairs (had one slat missing off each chair; used other chair as template and $5 later, two great chairs!
On the topic of other people's junk -- when I first met this family, they were a pretty 'proper' and conservative lot. I can remember the first time we were out of town with the kids and I wanted to stop into Goodwill. It was the first time ANY of them had been to a secondhand store (including the bf). As you can imagine, they were skeptical.
Fast forward a few years and 50-100 secondhand stores later, I truly believe they enjoy it. They all have items that they look out for and know a bit about. They are not afraid to rummage through stuff. They have made a game out of finding the stuff that I collect that's in good condition (vintage kitchen!!). I even have heard the girl tell her mom "I got a pair of WhateverBrandSheLikes shorts today for $5!! The pockets are still sewed shut!" Pretty high praise coming from a teenager.

It makes me happy.
 
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Bubba

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4,777
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28
We have a bookcase/shelving unit currently being used for storage in the unfinished portion of the basement that I snagged off the trash pile on the upper quad the day I moved out of the dorms after graduating college (it's survived six moves now). And, at the old house, we had a wooden bench in a sitting area at the bottom of the back yard that Mr. Bubba walked over and took from our next-door neighbors' trash pile.
 

Gedunker

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Junk Day was epic where I grew up.

I really can't recall whether it was annual, and somehow doubt that it was, because the piles of junk people put out in the verge were mountainous. Most lots were probably 60' frontages and it was not uncommon for the entire front to be stacked three or four feet deep and as many feet high, with just a tiny opening for a car door parked on the street interupting the pile.

I do remember that our little 2 square mile borough was divided into four or five sections for pick up because the local crews couldn't possibly load all of the junk in a single day or two. The pickers then, would start in the first section a few days ahead of the crews and pull anything they valued from the curbside, then move on to the next assigned area and start picking it. By the time the pickers had finished, man the place was a mess. By mid-week, one end of the borough looked relatively neat and the other looked as though a flood or tornado had ravaged the place.

I was just a young lad when they had Junk Day, but I recall all manner of things being tossed out to the street for pick up. For the life of me, though, I can't ever remember dragging anything home with me and I'm a complete sucker for cool looking (read: worthless) old stuff.

I don't know what became of junk day, but I know it ended at some point, probably about the time New Jersey went to mandatory curbside recycling. I know my hometown borough looked a lot better when there wasn't a bunch of litter strewn about her lawns and streets.
 

WSU MUP Student

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9,560
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30
As we were leaving to go to the airport Thursday morning we passed a neighbor's two doors down who had set a nearly full size trampoline (is a 3/4 size a thing?) by the curb with a sign that said, "Free!" but my wife refused to allow me to stop to take a couple minutes to drag it back home to our backyard because we had a plane to catch. I still haven't forgiven her.

All I could think of was Homer.

[youtube]
 

kjel

Super Moderator
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Junk Day was epic where I grew up.

I really can't recall whether it was annual, and somehow doubt that it was, because the piles of junk people put out in the verge were mountainous. Most lots were probably 60' frontages and it was not uncommon for the entire front to be stacked three or four feet deep and as many feet high, with just a tiny opening for a car door parked on the street interupting the pile.

I do remember that our little 2 square mile borough was divided into four or five sections for pick up because the local crews couldn't possibly load all of the junk in a single day or two. The pickers then, would start in the first section a few days ahead of the crews and pull anything they valued from the curbside, then move on to the next assigned area and start picking it. By the time the pickers had finished, man the place was a mess. By mid-week, one end of the borough looked relatively neat and the other looked as though a flood or tornado had ravaged the place.

I was just a young lad when they had Junk Day, but I recall all manner of things being tossed out to the street for pick up. For the life of me, though, I can't ever remember dragging anything home with me and I'm a complete sucker for cool looking (read: worthless) old stuff.

I don't know what became of junk day, but I know it ended at some point, probably about the time New Jersey went to mandatory curbside recycling. I know my hometown borough looked a lot better when there wasn't a bunch of litter strewn about her lawns and streets.
They still have it there, but you're limited to 5 items and have to pay $10/item and it's only in April now. They still divide it by sections :)

Newark has two zones and bulk pickup is either the 1st Wednesday or 2nd Wednesday. They tried placing a limit on the items but it's basically unenforceable so that went by the wayside. The city will not pick up appliances now on bulk pickup, that requires an appointment but I think it's still free.
 

Big Owl

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I haven't ever had to pay my city's white good fee because the scrappers pick my stuff up before the city can. My pick up day is Monday so I try to put out stuff I want gone early on especially if it's questionable if the city would even pick it up. A lot of people in my neighborhood put out stuff as early as Saturday morning. I learned I had to be careful what I left in the front yard near the sidewalk. I left my old push lawn mower in my front yard to get the gas can from the garage. When I came back a guy was loading my lawn mower in his truck that had other scrap metal on it. I grabbed my lawnmower and explained that it was mine. To which he told me that he was there first. I quickly responded that I lived in the house, that this was my lawnmower, and I was calling the police because he was stealing. He immediately apologized and explained that he was scrapper and he thought my old rusty lawnmower was being trashed.
 
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