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The silver lining: the things I find …

In my heart of hearts, I really don’t want to pick up litter. I really don’t. I mean, who in their right mind wants their daily constitutional to be interrupted by constant stooping and bending (and cursing) as well as continual stares as if you were some sort of bag man?

But the trash is there, so I do the dirty deed.

Aside from the feel-good aspect of such drudgery, there is a silver lining.

I find stuff. Lots of stuff of the non-trash variety. Unlike the morons who carelessly pitch stuff, much of this secondary treasure finds its way to the curb or median in a non-typical way; it likely falls out of the vehicle.

For instance, here’s some of the loot that sees a differing sort of ‘recycling.’

Tools. I’ve stumbled upon several sets of ratchets, a step ladder (I hauled it off the sidewalk but when I drove by later, it was still there so I reclaimed it), wrenches of varying sizes, a tape measure, a square, coiled rope, a couple of hammers and one hand sledge, box openers, several sets of safety goggles, work gloves still in the package, chisels, boxes of nails and screws, assorted screwdrivers and lengths of chain.

Beverages. Yeah, my usual prey is empty containers, but a guy has to be lucky sometimes, doesn’t he? I’ve stowed away at least a 12 pack worth of beer (singleton cans tossed aside perhaps by teens who got antsy when they saw the police?), a once unopened fifth of gin which is still in my freezer, plus unopened bottles of sport drinks. Rest easy; I wash them all off with soap and water. This is my kind of recycling.

How money finds the street and curb beats the hell out of me, but it's all sitting in a cigar box right now.

How money finds the street and curb beats the hell out of me, but it’s all sitting in a cigar box right now.

Money. If you keep your head down long enough, you’ll find cash. I’ll wager over the past four years, I’ve recovered at least $75 in spare change and loose bills (including a $20). It’s all tossed into a cigar box in one of my closets.

Other keepables. I’ve come across multiple credit and debit cards (sometimes found very close to the owner’s drivers license) all of which are returned to the rightful owners (such displays of honesty even earned me movie passes), unused notepads, quarts of motor oil (thank God that goop didn’t wash down the storm drain), enough pens to supply a classroom, scissors, a box of manilla envelopes, many food storage containers (which I don’t keep), full packs of cigarettes, rolls of duct tape, and books.

The list goes on.

So my finds aren’t all just the residue of slobbery. Look hard enough in my garage and you’ll see stuff that went from curb to bag to a second life with me.

About Dave Bradley (264 Articles)
I was a writer by trade so one would think letters would come easily for me. It is so now, but wasn't always that way. Indeed, the first letter was written the Monday after Ellen started her freshman year in college. For years I've wondered - with no good answers - why I swiveled my office chair toward my computer screen to fire up a word processing document for that first letter. I just don't know. I just did. Perhaps it was the angst of separation or wanting to say things that had gone unsaid at that moment when we parted ways in front of her college dormitory. What was a one-off became habitual. When her brother Reid enrolled in the same college, his name was added to the salutation line. They were kids then and are adults now. No matter. The letter writing habit remains so today. I live in Brevard, North Carolina. I'm well away from where they live and don't see them nearly as often as I'd like. That's why letters, at least to me, fill the void of distance. The pages give me something to say and the space to say it. There is no assurance they read the letters; indeed, I have never asked if they do so. With the pace of their busy lives who could blame them for letting a letter sit unopened? Over time, it has dawned on me that the letters are both communicative - and cathartic. By nature, letters are about the writer; the writer can only write about their situation. Perhaps that is as it should be. It's all about the here and now from one person's perspective.

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