Dumpster Diving


For a week I noticed the bike sitting behind the dumpster. It had been rejected at least twice by the garbage men, and no doubt the groundskeepers all passed on it too. It just sat there unclaimed, as if it were stranded on the Island of Misfit Toys.

It was also a pawn in some kind of internal war amongst the different factions of our little community here. The contracted garbage company wouldn’t take it because it wasn’t considered actual refuse according to their contract. Likewise, the maintenance staff wasn’t touching it because whatever resident left it there probably broke at least six condo association rules governing the disposal of personal property.

Rules, dammit. Follow the rules!

So the poor bike just sat there for all those days sitting out in the elements of Florida’s tropical climate. I continued to glance at it whenever I took out a bag of our garbage, but I never even bothered to pull it out for an inspection. It was someone else’s junk, someone else’s problem. Association management would eventually assign a Blue Meanie of theirs to hunt down the scofflaw who had left it there. I pity the fool.

And then I casually mentioned it to my wife one morning on the way back home from the gym.

“What do you mean there’s a bike that’s been just sitting out there? For how long? Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?! I need a bike!”

It’s funny what you just don’t know sometimes. The last thing I ever would have ever guessed is Gorgeous wanting a castoff, garbage dumpster bike. It goes against all the rules in our home about feng shui conventions. Like buying a used wedding dress or leaving a toilet seat up, it’s supposed to be a disharmony to one’s personal karma to “soil” yourself like that.

And speaking of soiling oneself, I don’t know about you, but I think that whole feng shui toilet seat rule is a bunch of hokum. It’s obviously been conceived by new age spouses attempting to curtail so-called bad habits of their bathroom-using better halves. But perhaps we should return to this particular thought another time. I can tax the goodwill of this blog’s readership only so much.

Gorgeous is certainly not a snob by any stretch of the imagination. She loves finding treasures pretty much anywhere, be it a high-brow antique shop or a Salvation Army thrift store. I just thought that this particular treasure was a little beyond her own tolerance level. She surprised me. In the words of my people, go know.

An inspection of the misfit bike was immediately undertaken. Except for a bit of wear and tear on the seat and with the handlebar grips, a smidgen of rust here and there, and the chain in need of some grease gun TLC — it was in surprisingly good shape. With the addition of a front basket and a rear rack, this baby was road worthy. It just needed someone who has tool know-how to get some tools out and fix it.

It’s a funny thing, tool know-how. Not every red-blooded American male gets that gene. If only my lovely wife had chosen to marry a man whose understanding of tool belts was slightly more than a prop for the staging of a two-act amorous play each night, we might have gotten somewhere. Alas, the repairs would have to come via an actual professional.

The before bike, post dumpster retrieval.
The before bike, post dumpster retrieval.

As luck would have it, there is a bike repair shop right across from our gym. We loaded the bike in the back hatch of our car and drove it over. A repair guy greeted us and listened with great interest about the provenance of our sad little find. A man of few words, he looked it over silently for several minutes and then rolled it behind the counter to place it on a repair stand. After giving what I think would be the bicycle equivalent of a pelvic exam, he came back to us with his verdict.

“Nice find. It’s a Sun Bike, made in Miami, you know. A really good company. It’s in great shape. I can tune it up for you.”

And with that hopeful news, Gorgeous happily went on a store shopping frolic strikingly similar to the manner in which she also graces the aisles of Saks, Nordstrom, Williams & Sonoma, et. al. The same careful scrutiny given to a Kitchenaid mixer was now being made to bike seats. Substitute the time in which it takes to browse all shades of lipstick, apply it instead to handlebar baskets, and you get the idea of the total effort being made here. With the actual repair work was now properly addressed, it was time to shop for accessories. It may only be a bike store, but shopping does rear its inevitable head.

If only Wall Street analysts could spend a day with me, for sure they’d see that any presumed downturn in the economy might not really materialize. They say that small businesses are the backbone of our nation’s commerce. I now have the receipts to prove it.

Source: Pinterest
Source: Pinterest

Once all of the bicycle accoutrements were chosen, the repair man assured us that he’d have the bike finished in an hour.

So we made our way to the gym. As usual I got on the elliptical as is our regular joint practice, side-by-side. But this time Gorgeous headed to the stationary bike area instead. I’m always the last to get the memo. From a distance she looked very happy.

When we returned to the shop, our man was making the last of his final tune-up touches. A new seat, handlebar grips, basket, and a rear rack were already assembled. A large number of tools were scattered all around the man’s feet as he tightened bolts and all kinds of screws. His last act was to generously grease the bike’s chain while he manually cycled its wheels. She was transformed into a thing of beauty.

“A really nice find on your part. The tires and tubes are all in great shape; you won’t need to replace them for quite a while yet. Looks like an old lady used this for church and the grocery store only. Dave over there will take your payment at the register.”

The after bike. Soon removable shopping bags will grace the back
The after bike. The rust under the seat was wiped off after this picture was taken. Soon removable shopping bags will grace the back rack.

For something around $130 including tax we have what amounts to a brand new bike. While I was at work a few days later, Gorgeous took it out for a spin to the nearby Starbucks — a 15 minute bike ride. She was awfully happy.

So don’t just toss out your garbage without looking for a treasure or two in the process. You never know what you might find.

My next tool belt performance is at 11:00pm. You are not invited.

Until next time…


36 thoughts on “Dumpster Diving

  1. A friend of mine once said that we women all marry the same guy, we just twist different heads on the shoulders. I think I married you, Marty. When my husband picks up tools I do what I can to distract him from the task until I can call a competent repair person. Although I have to admit he has gotten better. He hasn’t completely destroyed anything in years.

    And toilet fung shui? seriously? How come I didn’t know about it until now?! Naturally I read the entire link you posted. And I’m pretty sure that the only place, based on that, that you can put the toilet is on the roof.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Your friend is probably right. The original sins all stem from the father who failed to teach us anything about his work bench!

      Ah, yes. Toilet fund shui. Indeed it is a real thing. I do think you’re right about its proper placement. The Chinese gods clearly had no idea about indoor plumbing.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Not only the Chinese gods. I read today that the amount of poo released into the streets of India would fill 17 jumbo jets … apparently, they don’t have much fung shui there.

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Oy veh!

    If the reference is about being surprised isn’t the correct colloquial – Who Knew?

    Dumpster diving is one of Florida’s national pass times. When I was in the process of divesting myself and my apartment of things deemed not move worthy. I discovered that some items would have been scooped up in order to be in what is known new as ownership, in under a half hour. Or sooner.

    As they say, go figure.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I wasn’t even familiar with the term until I had (former) NY in-laws. I have to admit it wasn’t one of my favorites, preferring the two you mention more. But I thought I’d dust it off and see if anyone noticed. I reeled you in, Mike!

      We’ll be following your footsteps in getting rid of things next year. I suspect in this community, though, we might have to haul them away ourselves. We apparently live around choosy neighbors.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. hehehe good one Marty someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure .
    Over here people leave their trash on the nature strip for the council collection. Funny thing is people pick them up and next week you’ll find it on a different nature strip. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. lol. Love it, Vy. We have those kinds of collections here too by local governments, but they’re only scheduled two or three times a year. It’s always a big deal in certain communities. Starting the night before you do get lots of outside “visitors” canvassing the streets. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Years ago when I lived In Miami I took a pickup truck load of unused/unneeded “stuff” from the house to the landfill, aka the dump. I backed up to unload next to another fellow with a similar load. We stood in the back of our respective trucks for a few minutes looking at the other’s “treasure.” The result was that each of us returned home with trucks partially filled with new found and unneeded “stuff.”
    I didn’t see my new acquaintance when I was immediately dispatched back to the dump by my wife.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Some years ago when I lived in Miami I took a pickup truck full of unneeded “stuff” to the landfill, aka dump for disposal. I backed up next to another fellow on a similar mission. We paused for a few minutes looking at the “treasure” in each other’s truck, and with few words began trading.
    On my return home I was turned around by my wife and sent back to the dump. I didn’t see my new acquaintance so maybe he got the better of the deal.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. So lucky but then again, maybe I can’t see value in old stuff. We try to put stuff like that out “early” because we have gypsies (not real ones, but the guys with side flea market businesses) come round on trash day. Looking forward to your post “Fifty shades of tool belt!”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My wife loves vintage shops (antique stores, flea markets, etc.). I like to join her only because it’s semi-nostalgic for me because it’s an activity my parents both loved to do together. So from that standpoint I like it. But in the main, as she sifts through china pieces, jewelry, etc., I never see anything I ever really want. There was a time in my life when this wasn’t so, but now I see it all as just… stuff. There are exceptions, though. Anytime I see decent reel-to-reel tape deck from the 70’s, I do always want it. The price usually makes me back down, though. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Well strap me to the side of a hog and roll me in the mud! My toilets passed all the rules of fung shui!
    Now, the dumpster diving! I have only done it once and that was at the behest of my neighbor. I was…shall we say…a little more lithe than she was so in I went. I was tossing out these huge Christmas wreaths…make-up that had never been used (neither one of us took those) and all kinds of shit. The dumpsters were behind Macys’.
    If I thought I could find a good man in a dumpster, I’d dive every day. LOL
    I do remember when I was taking my children to school in Philadelphia, I would drive down the street on trash day. (We lived in Chestnut Hill and those people have more money than sense.) I found an antique Windsor chair that was perfect. I have no idea how much money it was worth but I kept it until I moved to Dallas. The movers “mysteriously” lost it…along with all of my tools. Pig-shit wouldn’t let me file a claim. He was afraid that the newspaper would hold it against him. Asswipe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love your expressions! OMG, a Windsor chair just tossed out? Crazy! How sad that it was stolen from you (let’s face it– they didn’t “lose” it). I can’t believe he didn’t let you file a claim. Crazy!


  8. As I started to read your post, I kept thinking, “wow, a bike… and no one has taken it… I would at least look at it… maybe it’s a good one…” You can’t imagine how relieved I was that you actually rescued it! And, it’s a beauty! Why someone would just put it out for trash pickup and not try to find someone who would appreciate it is a puzzle to me. I’m glad it found a good home. Maybe you should have your wife take out the garbage from now on… who knows what she’d come home with.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Awww, Gorgeous is a lucky one! And…bike season is upon us! ❥

    I enjoyed reading this You describe the experience so well. Glad you got to be a part of this sweet experiences. These are the moments that build a beautiful life. I sit in awe. 🙂

    Happy Weekend to you and Gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey, thanks so much for reading this one. It’s nice when the older posts get some attention. Unfortunately only yesterday she suffered a flat tire on it, and now she’s thinking of leaving it here when we move soon. Over a flat tire!!! Sheesh.

      Liked by 1 person

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