We are fortunate (I suppose) to have an area in our garage designated for those items that we wish to rid from our homes, but think could be useful to others. There is a sign on the wall that states the obvious: “Do not leave unusable items in this space.” The problem is that I have yet to see many things that people would want to take back upstairs. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone putting their used items in this garbage heap, which leads me to believe that they bring it downstairs under the cover of darkness.
Prior to living in our apartment, I never thought much about other people’s things. I usually changed the channel anytime Oprah decided to focus on hoarders. But that had more to do with her perceived empathy, as though she and the woman living beneath 100 pounds of newspaper and dirty dishes were one and the same. Now I find it so interesting. There’s a collection of cheap wrapping paper, fake china dishes, baskets, vacuums, stereos and DVD’s. One day there was one sneaker.
Periodically the area is cleaned out or stylized. Recently, a table and four chairs were displayed like a makeshift dining area, complete with throw rug, plates, cups, and assorted accoutrements of the kitchen. One thing that remained for weeks was a small bowl full of fake cherries, which Jocelyn called apples. Each time we waited for the elevator she would look over, point, and yell, “apples!” I decided to turn this collection of the unused into a game of I-Spy. I-Spy a bed frame, I-Spy a salt shaker, I-Spy a cowboy hat.
Do the neighbors’ remainders say something about the owners? Or should we assume that they are just extra items that should be shared? Someone thought, I have an extra mattress and copy of Jane Fonda’s Complete Workout and Stress Reduction and I really think someone else will find enormous pleasure from a nice abdomen stretch in bed. Had I collected all of the items for my own use I probably could have furnished our entire apartment. Mind you, I wouldn’t want to live here anymore. I would miss the I-Spy games though.
Do you have items that you would put in a reusable pit? Are they currently hidden from sight out of pure embarrassment? Are you a “cover of darkness” recycler?