The Dump

By Don Mitchell

Memoir

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time at The County of Hawai’i South Hilo Solid Waste Disposal Site, which is usually just called The Dump. I’ve written about The Dump in I Don’t Brake for Mongoose and Badass Pink Chevy .

I never thought about The Dump as having neighborhoods. Back in the fifties, when I was a boy roving The Dump shooting mongoose with my .410 shotgun, the only difference between the long rows of jumbled trash and the vegetation that punctuated them was that mongoose were more likely to be in the trash. But a couple of years ago, when I began moving serious quantities of waste out of the house and yard I inherited from my mother, I learned the The Dump’s neighborhood names: Residential, Metal, Landfill, and Green Waste.

Residential is probably what most Hilo people think is The Dump. They load a few garbage bags in to the back of the Toyota and drive up to the dumpster chutes at Residential, not looking to the left at Metal, and not going on to Green Waste or Landfill. They back up and toss their stuff in, without ever realizing that they’re in a rich and complex ecosystem.

This week I had rusted fencing and old galvanized pipe to get rid of, so I hung a left into Metal. The attendant inspected my load and told me where to drop it.

“You know the road down there to the right? The roofing iron place? Put it over there.”

I’d been over there before. Last year I showed up with cast-iron waste pipe and a toilet.

“Eh, all together in your house is OK, but not here. Gotta throw the toilet at Residential.”

My rusted fencing and pipes are at the bottom of the Metal picture to the left.

Landfill is where the big boys and girls go. Landfill is where the giant garbage trucks and the trucks from construction companies, plumbers, and drywallers go – everybody except the landscapers, who go to Green Waste.

I go to Landfill sometimes, driving up a monster heap of garbage and gravel to where the machines are working, pushing, compacting. A guy motions me where to go and I swing around and back my trailer where he wants it. Then I get out and unload my trash.

It smells bad up on the landfill itself, although some days are better than others. It depends on who’s been dumping just ahead of you, and which way the wind’s blowing.  If you get directed to a particularly nasty slot, you find yourself stepping out into a bunch of stuff you would rather not step out into.

My worst Landfill experience was stepping out into a lot of shitty diapers. One of the daycare centers must have dumped before me. With that many you can’t avoid them. It’s not like the diaper you find at the park when you sneak into the bushes to take a piss. That one, you step over or around. But if there’s a couple of dozen, and you have a narrow slot in among the trucks, you have no choice but to walk on them.

If you tell the Landfill monitor guy you don’t like your slot because it’s nasty he looks at you. What did you think was up here, a park? A Japanese garden? No, it’s a landfill, so just unload. If you don’t want to walk on it, get a dumping trailer.

Going to Landfill shows you what’s in a landfill. I think they should take bus loads of students up there – not to dump them, but so they could learn about it firsthand. It worked for me. No amount of television coverage substitutes for driving up a huge mountain and backing the trailer into a slot and getting out onto shitty diapers to pitch out the remains of my father’s shop cabinets, all moldy and with a dessicated centipede in them, some old windows with glass, along with some regular garbage bags I thought I might as well take there directly rather than tossing them in Residential so they could have the grand tour past Green and up the mountain.

The view from the top is really wonderful.

I was going to The Dump one day last year, waiting for the light at the intersection with the Volcano Highway, when I noticed a large group of cyclists waiting to turn left. I sat in my van admiring their beauty – helmets, bright clothing, their bikes.

I used to bike a lot thirty years ago, and have my own brightly-colored cycling clothing, though the jerseys are a little tight. They must have shrunk. My bike is a semi-antique, like me. It’s built on a Pogliaghi frame, hand-made by the old master Sante Pogliaghi in Italy. Back in the eighties, I used to race it.

As I crossed the Volcano Highway I realized I was envying the riders because they were out on their fine machines and I was hauling yard waste to Green, my yellow Pogliaghi was thousands of miles away, and my jerseys didn’t fit me anymore.

At Green I found the usual weekend confusion. The Green mound spreads over a couple of acres, and it’s sometimes thirty feet high. On weekends there can be dozens of vehicles unloading.

Not everybody towing a trailer is good at backing it up, so sometimes there are trailers jacknifed, pointing every which way. A guy drives a huge front end loader around and around the mound at high speed, scooping up what people have dumped, and piling it on top.

I like the way Green smells. It can be sweet, but with an edge, the way rain forest coffee and cocoa fermentaries smell. That’s a working smell, an organic-things-are-happening-here smell.

At Green there’s a “No Scavenging” sign, which you might think unnecessary. But it’s not. There’s always something worth having – a  plant you could use in your yard, or piles of fruit fallen from somebody’s tree. Beautiful flowers. Edible orchids. Green coconuts. I had my machete with me once and was tempted to open one and get a drink, the way the Bougainvilleans taught me. I don’t think I’d pick up an edible orchid at Green and eat it, but I’d drink a coconut any day.

I finished tossing out my green waste, and when I turned back towards the road, there were the cyclists. It was a wonderful sight. In the foreground, dark mud scattered with spilled green waste – a coconut frond, some taro leaves, an entire Podocarpus that must have rolled off a flatbed but hadn’t been seen by the front end loader guy yet, and some hibiscus bushes with beautiful yellow flowers. In the background, mighty Landfill with the county dozer crawling around on it, black diesel exhaust puffing against what was an unusually blue sky.

And in the foreground, the vivid cyclists milled around. A couple of them dismounted. No one seemed in charge.

I stood beside my trailer and looked at them and couldn’t think what to do. Were they tourists? Growing up in Hilo, I’d learned to be ambivalent about tourists. It’s good to have their money, but it’s not good to have them look at you like you’re something in a zoo. So the Hilo boy in me was already having fun thinking about how they’d get lost in The Dump’s backwoods.

Or maybe they were just local folks going for a ride? The biker in me wanted to walk over and ask if they were lost, and if they were, to direct them to wherever they were going. They wanted to ride, not stand around getting mud in their cleatless cycling shoes. I could load their bikes in my trailer and haul them out of The Dump so they wouldn’t have to risk their tires and clothing and their paint jobs and exotic components. Who wants rotten papaya in her carbon-fiber rear derailleur?

But I was confused and wasn’t sure how to approach them. Should I tell them I was a biker too, in case they thought I was just an old guy who tooled around the neighborhood on a rusted Huffy? But what the hell would that have to do with anything? If I was going to help them, it wouldn’t matter whether I’d never been on a bike in my life or if I was Eddie Merckx. And if I wasn’t going to help them, the same.

Before I could make a move, they rode off toward Landfill. I had no business there that day, so I didn’t follow them. I drove home, feeling unsettled and displeased with myself.

This year, again, I’ve been doing a lot of green waste hauling. Last week ago I felled a line of trash trees, got into my bananas, and trimmed my giant rubber tree. I headed for The Dump with the first of many trailerloads. I took my camera, because I didn’t have any shots of the pile at Green.

The front-end loader guy was a young man I hadn’t seen before. After I backed my trailer up to the pile I walked over to ask if I could take some pictures. I waved my camera at him.

“What model Nikon is that?” he said.

“D300.”

“I have a D40. So, what would you like me to do?” he asked. We agreed that the loader and the pile of logs someone had just dumped might be good.

When I was finished I went over and handed my camera up to him so he could check out my super-wide lens and also see what I’d done.

An hour later I was back with my next load. He walked over with a photography magazine, to talk prices. Where had I gotten the D300, and for how much? He told me his dream was to open a photographic studio in the Philippines.

Driving home I could only shake my head. The Dump’s a beautiful place. I’d gone there to get rid of yard waste, but I’d found a guy to talk about cameras and photography with.

By the time I made my final trip of the day, I was tired. Rubber tree limbs are heavy. I was pulling them out the back at the pace I could maintain, but it must have looked slow to the guy unloading his pickup next to me, because he walked over and said “I’ll help you out with that.”

My first impulse was to tell him I didn’t need any help. Did I look like a weak old fart? I could unload my own trailer! But that was Mainland thinking, and it lasted only a second. And he hadn’t asked me, either. He just declared he’d help, and got right to it without waiting for me to say anything.

In Hawai’i you help people out, if you can, and that also means you accept help, if it’s offered. It’s simple reciprocity. Too long on the Mainland, I’d almost forgotten that.

Afterward, I was kneeling down photographing a beautiful mass of Areca nuts that had spilled down from the pile. My new friend came down from his loader to see what I was shooting. I told him I wasn’t going to bring another load because I was tired and sore, and that I’d been glad for the pickup truck guy’s help. I almost said that I’d helped other people unload, too. But I caught myself before I did.

He looked approvingly at where I’d heaved out my trailer load, although in truth with his machine it couldn’t have mattered where I’d put it.

“You know how to back your trailer,” he said, “not like most people who come here.”

“It’s like riding a bicycle,” I found myself saying, “once you learn, you don’t forget.”

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DON MITCHELL is a writer and ecological anthropologist, born and raised in Hilo, Hawai'i (where he graduated from a public high school -- in Hawai'i, that's important). He has published academic works, poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and both published and exhibited photographs. He recently published a story collection, A Red Woman Was Crying, and is working on a novel set on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, where he did fieldwork. He lives happily in Hilo with his college girlfriend, a poet and yoga teacher, whom he lost for forty years but, lucky for him, finally found.

47 responses to “The Dump”

  1. Zara Potts says:

    I always find that dumps smell like rotting bananas. Not an altogether unpleasant smell, but the way you wrote this, I had that smell right there in my nostrils!
    As a kid, I used to love going to the dump, when my mother would get rid of the household junk. It was right up there in terms of excitement value. I’m not sure what this says about me.
    But I always found it interesting to see what people threw out.
    “Why would anyone throw out that gorgeous empty perfume bottle? It’s treasure!”

  2. Don Mitchell says:

    Ha, Zara. A fellow dump-lover, but not a dumped-lover.

    What is says about you is — curiosity, I think. As you’ve shown over and over again in your postings.

  3. What a great tribute to a place I’d never have thought I’d read such a loving description of. And that’s cool the guy was so ready to model for your camera.

    I’ve only ever been to a dump once – in California. It was alright. Not the best dump.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      I think the Green workers are proud of their pile and how they handle it. They should be. It really is an extraordinary thing.

      Whenever I have Mainland visitors, I take them there — hoping that the shredder/mulcher (a gigantic machine) is on the other side of the island, so that the pile is very high.

      They turn the waste into mulch, which they then give away. Yes, give away. You have to load your own truck, though.

      Waste management in Korea — do I dare ask?

      • That’s cool that they give it away. And that they take pride in their work. Heavy machinery is awesome. I’m not the sort of guy you’d expect to be able to drive a tractor or anything, but I can… I learned a few years ago how to shovel and spread manure, and how to carry logs and stuff. It’s probably the manliest thing I’ve ever done. Maybe the only manly thing…

        Waste management in Korea is a mixed bag. There are no trash cans, so people just toss waste on the ground. I carry mine in my bag and take it home, but Koreans toss it on the ground.

        Which sounds bad, and it is… Korea is terribly polluted.

        But it’s not all bad. They’re actually pretty decent about recycling and stuff, although they do it typically weird. There is no waste disposal office or anything… Just old people. Old people sift through your crap and take it away, and then get paid for recyclables. Food garbage, too. And they have people checking that you separate it, and handing out fines for those who don’t.

  4. Ben Loory says:

    this is my favorite post i’ve read on tnb. a journey into a world i’d never once even thought about.

    i’m glad you finally found your college girlfriend, by the way. that’s a good story. i like it.

  5. Don Mitchell says:

    Jeez, thanks, Ben. Coming from you — because I admire your postings — that means a lot.

    I’ve been reading Duke’s joyride. Ruth and I come to LA sometimes, but we haven’t been since Stefan turned me on to TNB. Next time, maybe we can all get together.

    I’ll try to get a new tattoo before that.

    • Ben Loory says:

      hahaha

      you’re never gonna let me forget that!

      come to LA, we’ll have an earthquake.

    • Stefan Kiesbye says:

      “We haven’t been since Stefan turned me on to TNB…” yeah, and not since I moved to LA. Even though Hawai’i is really not that far away!

      Nice piece though, and nice pictures. All posts should have pictures.

  6. Gloria says:

    This was a wonderful read. Simple and elegant at the same time. Like the dump. 🙂

  7. D.R. Haney says:

    Reading this, I was reminded that cyclists elsewhere aren’t the same as the ones we have in L.A. There’s been a cycling trend among hipsters here for the last five years or so, as there is in Brooklyn and other hipster enclaves. They often wear dark clothing, and they ride their bikes at night with nothing to warn you that they’re there, and the sheer arrogance of it is enough to make you crazy when you’re behind the wheel. They also cycle en masse — literally hundreds of them — and that’s crazy-making also, if you find yourself stuck behind them.

    Of course, cycling is better for the environment than driving and so on, and I think that’s part of their point — “The road belongs to everybody, dude” — but their self-righteousness, their snide backwards glances (that is, if they deign to notice you at all), has me practically rooting for oil companies.

    But enough. You always do the physical world justice, Don. I feel decadent, reading your posts, caught as I am in a bubble, and disconnected from my animal self. How to rescue it at no cost to my writing? That’s the conundrum.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      I know what you mean about that kind of rider. The risks we take are our choice, and I’ve never liked my odds against 4000 pound objects going faster than I am. I have sometimes claimed car-space on a road but only when I thought I had no alternative, it wasn’t dark or raining, etc.

      I’d rather see those dark-colored cyclists take their risks against rocks or cliffs or water — natural obstacles that don’t have to go to court for something that’s probably not their fault, don’t have to worry about insurance, don’t have to worry about how they feel about taking somebody down even that person made it happen. As you say, it’s a kind of arrogance.

      I’ve also known runners like that, and when I realized what they were like, I wouldn’t run with them anymore. I wanted to run, not have a war.

      I have a good friend who got caught up in mass arrests in Buffalo relating to “Critical Mass.” And my stepson sometimes joins the CM people in Pittsburgh.

      I’m ambivalent about them, not morally but tactically. I don’t see the use of pissing people off, when those people are the people whose support you need. I do understand that their position is much more complex than that, and I think that most of the Critical Mass riders aren’t the same as the arrogant hipsters you’ve run into. Not literally, of course.

      And yet, back to my stepson, who rides a lot . . . he tells me about times that he’s been in a turning lane, stopped, signaling with his hand, waiting to go, and having people behind him in cars honking and cursing him. That’s enough to drive anybody to make a Critical Mass type of statement.

      My son rides a fixie between Brooklyn and Manhattan, even at night. I try not to think about it. He’s never reported anything serious to me, but my guess is that he’s not telling me everything.

      Thanks for the physical world comment.

      I don’t like offering advice to people I only know from a distance, but as for rescuing your animal self — maybe you could consider something like yoga/meditation. It really does engage the animal self in interesting ways, can be done inside by yourself whenever you can find time, and so on.

      I’m a very limited yoga practitioner, but what little I’ve done has connected me with my body in ways that my other physical disciplines never have.

      • D.R. Haney says:

        It’s been suggested to me before, Don, but never in the way you just did. It’s worth considering. And godspeed to your son.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          To agree with what Don has to say on the matter; my own (very limited) experience with yoga taught me the same – it fostered a connection with my body and my own physical presence in a way I was simply unable to make before.

  8. Irene Zion says:

    Don,

    This was fascinating. I’ve never, ever even seen a dump. I guess I’d better go find one now.

    (I’m more than delighted that you found your college girlfriend again.)

    • Don Mitchell says:

      You might not be able to — don’t you live in a thoroughly urban area? If so, then your waste stream is hidden from you.

      But if you’re driving around in the country, you might see a landfill sign.

      Yesterday I was talking to the boss at the Metal Dump, who told me that the school system actually does bring schoolchildren to The Dump, and precisely so they can understand what happens to what they (and their parents) throw away.

      Probably there’s a more urgency to waste on an island.

  9. Don– you have made the dump sound magical. A landscape few visit and not that far away. That is true talent.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      Thanks, Robin.

      If you want to visit an interesting landfill, you can just drive up to Long Lake and visit their famous Dump, complete with bears.

      I went there once hoping for something magical and didn’t quite find it — the bears were behind chain-link. But it was interesting anyway.

  10. Anon says:

    Vivid imagery, Don, and I smiled and nodded at my desk at your description of the Green “working smell”. That’s life, baby – we started in the soup and we end there. But I kept waiting for a mongoose interlude. I’m used to various critters but I’ve never been exposed to them. Are they considered vermin, furbearer or snackable? I had thought they were supposed to be useful for snake control and such.

    And, because I obsess about technical details and enjoyed your .308 Winchester post, what kind of .410 were you using? I’ve been contemplating putting back a Marlin levergun in .410 for my kids’ small-game hunting in a few years.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      I sense the presence of the earlier poster “JH.”

      If you go to “I Don’t Brake for Mongoose” you can read my take on those critters. Here, they are definitely vermin.

      I’m having a hard time remembering much about the .410 (I haven’t seen it for a half-century…Jesus, did I just type that?) but it was a single-shot model by one of the mainline manufacturers. I don’t think it was a Marlin, because as a boy I thought Marlin the coolest brand (from cowboy movies, of course) and I’d probably remember that. Maybe it was a Savage. I remember that for a while we had a .410/.22 over-under combination kicking around, but I remember not liking its looks and not using it.

      • Anon says:

        Ha. Indeed. The inside joke wore thin for me so I’ve adopted a more low-key yet still “safe” persona. (:

        Sounds like an H&R or NEF. Fun, for sure, but I like the idea of a quick follow-up since Murphy does tend to get around. And I agree on the Savage – was never a big fan of the combo guns. Neat concept – like a LeMat – but… meh. I like a single point of aim. Same reason I eschew all over-unders.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          What’s NEF? H&R I know.

          My father had two beautiful L.C. Smith double-barrels. Wonderful guns. The stocks were amazing walnut. He sold them not long before he died. Even though I don’t hunt any more, and probably won’t start, I would have gladly had one of them.

        • Anon says:

          I believe it was “New England Firearms”, IIRC. Smiths are gorgeous which is why I would never own one. It’s my personal policy to own no safe queens, which means I can never own anything I wouldn’t forgive myself for dropping, dinging, scratching or in any way blemishing. From a practical perspective, I’m a synthetic stock fanboy but there’s something about cold-blued steel against rich walnut. Sigh. I have a Schofield (repro) that I can’t bring myself to part with. Totally impractical but poetry in motion to use and balances like an extension of your arm….

  11. Matt says:

    Very nice piece, Don.

    If I’m remembering correctly, someone made a documentary not too long ago about landfills and the habitats that develop within them–not just the ecosystems, but the microsocieties that form among people that live in and around them. Sounded like a fascinating project.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      It is fascinating, and let’s hope for more projects like that.

      I went to grad school with a guy named William Rathje, an archaeologist who went on to do some really interesting waste projects — what did people pitch out, what did they tell you they’d pitched out as opposed to what they really did, and so on. Of course it was more sophisticated and complex than that.

      As I commented to Irene, we’re all mostly insulated from our waste streams. In Western NY I certainly am — everything goes to the roadside, goes into a garbage truck, and I don’t know much about what happens to it after that.

      In Hilo, there’s no municipal garbage service (there are some private haulers) and so people who don’t want to pay end up having to get acquainted with The Dump no matter what.

      Even though I have regular garbage service in Colden (NY) there are interestingly different rules there. I had a structure I wanted to get rid of, so I went down to Town Hall to ask Alice, the Clerk, what my options were. She offered two options: hire a bulldozer to dig a hole and then push the structure into it and cover it up, or ask the Volunteer Fire Department to burn it down as a training exercise.

  12. Jude says:

    Ah, the dump! I could write lists of the things I have picked up from the dump over my lifetime. In fact I remember once going into the dump with only a very small load in my car, and leaving with the car full to the brim! It has always been my regret that I didn’t have a car big enough to fit the intricately carved Victorian mantle-piece.

    I remember the smells, but most especially the sounds of the seagulls squawking and fighting with each other as they swooped down onto some tantalising food that had been dumped. It always amused me that they chose to live at the dump – not in their natural environment by the sea.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      It’s probably less work at the dump, since what they want is at the surface.

      It does sound as though your dump had more interesting large objects than mine. When I lived in Buffalo, the “big trash” days when you could put anything out on the curb did offer up some surprises.

      • Jude says:

        Until recently we had the ‘big trash’ days also – although they are called the more politically correct term, ‘inorganic collections’.

        The council in its (usually misguided) wisdom decided that the rubbish looked too messy on the sides of the road and have now started charging householders to pick their rubbish up.

        I miss the piles of rubbish – I’m a natural scavenger and I loved getting a bargain when I often stopped if something caught my eye. People have furnished their houses with other peoples’ castoffs.

        It seems a very good solution to the masses of landfills that are quickly filling and poisoning our beautiful land.

  13. Erika Rae says:

    How cool to find the art in a place like the dump. You made it beautiful!

    Thank you for my package! When I got it, there was white powder all over the box, which leaked out under the tape. The postmistress thought it was some kind of toxic nerve powder.Assuring her it was just sand, I opened the package and shared a few macadamia nuts for her trouble (yum!). When I got home, my 6-year-old tasted the “sand” and informed me it was sweet. I explained to her that sand is not sweet, it’s salty. Nonetheless, this sand was sweet. This ridiculous debate of the white powder ended with me noticing that there was a leak in the coconut pudding packet upon which I promptly saved what was left and put it in a saucepan. I am happy to say I have now tasted poisonous sand pudding. Not half bad.

    The plums, on the other hand, EWWWW!

    (Oh, and they dug the candy as you predicted.)

    • Don Mitchell says:

      I’m surprised that the haupia mix got loose. I didn’t bother double-bagging it. And white powder over the box! That would set the post office on alert.

      Heh. I love those plums. For mystified readers, Erika sent me brownies in return for the Bond Girl picture. So I sent her a few Hawaiian goodies, including some Chinese preserved seeds that I love, Li Hing Mui. Not everybody likes them, as we now see.

      • Erika Rae says:

        Man, they are inTENSE. Like straight salt with a twist of ZING. So these are the seeds? How interesting. How on earth did you “discover” them?

        It made my day to receive all this, btw. So completely awesome.

        • Don Mitchell says:

          I sent you the ones without the pits. The ones that actually have the plum pits in them are more interesting, because after you’re done with the meat, you can suck the pit. And the pit changes from sour to sweet. And of course when you’re done you can shoot the pit at another kid.

          I discovered them because all the kids ate them. We did have different kinds of snacks here in the old days. We must have had chips, but I don’t remember them. We ate sushi after school — the kind called inari-zushi, which we called “cone sushi.” And saimin, a noodle soup.

          You could go to some of the stores and there would be huge crocks of pickled things. Pull out what you wanted.

          Then there was something called “sour lemon.” You can make it easily. Take some lemons, any kind will do, and a big jar of some kind, like a preserves jar. Put in the lemons with a lot of salt, maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons. Tighten the lid. Put outside in the sun for a month or more. Open, eat the sour lemon, concentrating on the rind.

  14. Richard Cox says:

    “What did you think was up here, a park?” Hahahaha.

    I love your depiction of Green. Well, all of it, but especially that.

    When the dump is higher than Kea or Loa, however, you will have yourself a problem. No need for a third peak, you know.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      There’s a problem already. It’s said that the current space will last only two or three years more. So either they can truck it over to the other side of the island, or maybe find new space near by, or (as has already been proposed, but was defeated) do a waste-to-energy thing.

      Green isn’t the problem, of course, and neither is Metal. But the landfill . . . is nearly filled.

  15. Simon Smithson says:

    I hate that feeling – Man, I shoulda said something, and I didn’t. It’s something I’ve become aware of, and try to put in its place each and every time.

    I like hearing that about Hawai’i, that it’s somewhere where people just help out as a matter of course.

    I was talking to Z a while back about differences in national character – one of the things that’s fostered the Australian approach to life is, apparently, the landscape itself. The Australian spirit of ‘mateship’ has its roots in the fact that life out here (especially in colonial days) was so harsh and unforgiving (poisonous spiders and drought? Don’t mind if we do!) that to thrive, you had to work as a community. Otherwise…

    • Don Mitchell says:

      True, I often feel I shouda said something. In this case, though, I nearly said what didn’t really need saying.

      And I agree about the landscape/habitat/life thing. In places where life can be physically tough, or dangerous, that’s what you see. Pretty reasonable.

      Most of Hawai’i isn’t dangerous or difficult, so here I think what you see is a fusion of Hawaiian and Asian culture. It’s not a paradise, but people do pay attention to each other, and help out if possible. I see this in driving behavior all the time. Making a left turn? Somebody’s most likely going to let you go, no problem. Driving a little slowly? No problem. No horn.

      I just got back from towing my trailer overloaded with 2 yards of cinder soil. The loader guy was generous but the tires were not happy and the springs were flat. So, I drove 30 miles mostly on 2 lane roads, considerably below the speed limit. I moved over when I could, but not one person honked, gave me stink-eye, did the rapid cut in to show anger . . . nothing at all.

      If there were only a few more comments to respond to, I wouldn’t have to go outside just yet and unload all that material.

  16. Greg Olear says:

    The word “dump” is not politically correct, Don. “Transfer station” is the preferred term.

    I used to enjoy going to our dump — er, our transfer station, until it started getting cold. That and I realized it was actually cheaper to have a company haul stuff from my curb.

    Great piece. I can smell those diapers. Even one diaper sodden with pee stinks like death after 48 hours. A whole pile of them? Ugh.

  17. Don Mitchell says:

    You’re right, of course. Here, the outliers are the Transfer Stations — they have them in various neighborhoods, at least 10 or 15 miles from The Dump. There’s a chute and a dumpster trailer and usually an attendant.

    It’s interesting that in New Paltz you can go to the transfer station if you want to. As I said above, even in little Colden, you can’t.

    I don’t want to think about the diapers any more, so I won’t respond.

    But I’m glad you liked the piece, bad smells and all.

  18. When I was a teenager, living in Jersey, I used to live near a dump. On Friday nights, I’d get together with this one friend of mine that was a paramedic. He was one hella crazy fuck. We’d speed around in his primer-blue Nova, in reverse, headlights off, while he alternately took tokes off his pot pipe, and fired a handgun out his open window.

    Good times, good times.

  19. […] 6. Someone told me it’s all happening at the dump. […]

  20. kristen says:

    This is a beaut, Don! Great “Green” descriptions, great photography, great profile of humanity as endcap… And I LOVE the concept of the Dump as a rich and complex ecosystem. After reading this, that’s certainly hard to argue.

  21. Don Mitchell says:

    Hi Kristen! Thanks for the comment, and I’m especially glad you liked the photographs. I’ve been doing more photography here, including beginning the series “36 Views of Spam Musubi.”

    I’ve been tempted to write about my struggle to return to a fitness level good enough not to embarrass myself in the Big Island Half Marathon, March 21st. I’m not even thinking about the full. But it would be boring to almost all the readers, I think.

  22. Bikini Towing…

    […]Don Mitchell | The Dump | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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