I’m so busted. By the moms at my kids’ school. My neighbors. People in passing cars.
But I couldn’t help myself. It was perfect. Exactly what I was looking for. And there for the taking.
I looked to my right. My left. All clear. Grabbed it.
But it wouldn’t fit easily in the back of my car. In the time it took me to rearrange things so it would fit, it seems everyone I’ve ever met happened by. Some looking embarrassed for me. Some just confused. But the look on my seven-year-old’s face made up for it.
“Did you get it?” she asked, when I returned to the car.
“Good as new,” I replied. “Just has a bit of dirt we can clean off.”
“She’ll love it,” she said, referring to her doll — and to the wooden cradle I’d just garbage-picked from the side of the road.
Treasure on the roadside
It’s not the first time I’ve found treasure on the roadside. Nor will it be the last. Though I prefer to do my dirty work under cloak of darkness, I won’t pass up anything that suits us, even when it means I might prompt neighborhood gossip that I am reportedly a) crazy, b) in financial ruin or c) crazy.
Thus far, I’ve furnished our home with a wicker hamper (all it needed was a good coat of paint), a wooden patio table (all it needed was a good coat of paint), a dining room chair (the perfect match to my grandparents’ 100-year-old set), a dresser for my son’s room (needed dusting and some wood glue), an old Salada tea-box-cum-end-table (all it needed was a thorough dusting) and a doll cradle (cleaning and a coat of paint, see above).
My kids are accustomed to my salvage missions. My 12-year-old daughter, upon leaping out of the car post-Christmas to nab the hugest poinsettia we’d ever seen, pointedly remarked that “we’re kind of a weird family, aren’t we mom?”
Environmental price tags
What I find weird is that people toss with abandon. The only explanation I can come up with is that our stuff has lost its value. What’s the point in finding another home for an item when it seems worthless? And the reason it’s worthless is that a replacement is so cheap. We live in an age of disposable everything, rendering everything temporary, including our attachment to it.
While I love a bargain as much as the next girl, I’m learning that the cost of an item doesn’t just show up at the cash register. There’s an environmental price tag to all that we purchase, from food to couches, lipstick to cars.
The more use we can wring from our purchases — including passing them on to others when we no longer need them — the better.
In the meantime, I’m happy to make use of all those great things that others toss. Weird indeed.