Doing a quick walk around of the place this morning it dawned on me that it had been a couple of years since I rounded up all the unwanted things that somehow accumulate, so I loaded up the pickup and it was off to the local solid waste disposal facility.
When I was a kid, the local solid waste disposal facility was referred to as “The Dump”. Whether it was called “The Dump” in recognition of the observation that this was where everyone dumped their garbage, or whether a spot was picked and it was named in anticipation of this activity, the simple fact was that this is where the majority of everyone’s weekly cast-offs ended up. By today’s standards “The Dump” was not very friendly to the ecology of the particular site it happened to occupy and it stunk to high heaven, but it was far removed from town and had no appreciable impact on the local’s lives. The municipal garbage trucks that picked up the cans in front of the houses would drop their loads here and if on occasion you had a few items that wouldn’t fit in the cans or an old bed, or swing-set, or yard waste or whatever, you were free to bring it on down and toss it in the pile. And by free I mean… it was free. It didn’t cost anything. Hardly the case anymore.
Upon pulling up to the small “attendants station” (“The Dump” didn’t have any “attendants”), a very fat man strolled out and began inspecting the load as if he were looking for illegal contraband or perhaps an undocumented guest worker or two. “Any tires under that stuff” he huffed, the spray of tobacco juice just missing the end of my nose. “Them costs ten bucks a piece.” “A couple…I think” I said, vaguely recalling my last trip through airport security. “OK! Four!” I blurted out as he started to look closer. “I have four tires. Not including the ones presently on the rims of my truck.” The interpretation of sarcasm apparently not being a requirement in his most recent union contract, he stared at me blankly. “That comes to seventy five bucks so far. Any TV’s ?” Before I could answer in the affirmative, he told me that they wouldn’t take them and that I had to deliver any in my possession to the primary county recycling site over by the airport. “That would be forty miles from here.” I said dejectedly. “Cost ya forty five bucks each too.” he said with a smile. “Might cost a little less on the rest since they charge by the pound down there.” “Well…fuck” was all I could muster as I pulled out and headed for the airport.
I’ll have you know that I didn’t succumb to my baser instincts and simply dump it all down the end of the first dirt road I came upon. I did my civic duty and wasted almost an entire day and a hundred dollars making sure that each individual scrap of garbage ended up in its proper county approved receptacle. On the drive home I viewed the tires, TV’s, and other flotsam and jetsam strewn on the side of the road in a whole new light however. I used to wonder what kind of scumbag lazy good for nothing would foul their environment with such flagrant littering. I now realize that these days it is simply an economic calculation and that the weekly cast-offs that used to be concentrated in a single fouled and smelly location, far from the eye and nose, are now scattered about for all to see and enjoy. “The Dump” by and large managed to keep the surrounding countryside trash free due to the fact that it was free, and it was easy. Like all government run enterprises the “Kitsap County Department of Solid Waste Disposal ” somehow assumes that if they make something a pain in the ass for people and then charge them exorbitantly for it, those people won’t simply make other arrangements. Go figure.