Dump is fun?

A long long time ago, one of my day jobs involved being a temp in a PR agency. It was only for a short time. The office was mostly staffed by young women fresh from university, and my jobs ranged from franking millions of envelopes to calling up papers asking for back issues to fixing the loo roll holder to organising the basement storage cupboard. Nobody knew my education level or cared. I certainly wasn’t bothered being dogsbody. I’m very happy to be bottom of the hierarchy.

I’m still friendly with the owner. I was never gonna make full time staff as I didn’t want to because acting yaddayadda, so the work dropped off as temps are often just a way of trying out potential new full timers. But I’ve been going back there occasionally lately to help out. She’s downsizing.

This huge office full of history is going into a much smaller office next door. This involves a lot of heavy lifting. Today we packed papers for shredding, I deconstructed a few big desks, and we took a load of crap out of the basement storage. Over the years she has gathered many free samples from clients, and she’s not allowed to sell them as they are for testing only. These things date back to the late nineties now. Whatever you can think of. Tech. Art. Homeware. Furniture. Baby stuff.

I’m on hand for the man stuff. I was breaking up chipboard desks so they fitted in Bergman, and then I booked a slot for Wandsworth dump.

“I love the dump,” says one enthusiastic millennial as I am javelinning metal desk legs from my car into the metal-bin. I kind of get her enthusiasm. The sun is out and it is busy at the pit. It’s almost like a social occasion, and curiosity is at high pitch. “What wonders are being hurled away,” we all think, looking at each other’s stuff. A man arrives with a rusty bike and three people ask to look at it before it is finally consigned to the bike-resyk.

Wood in the wood. Metal in the metal. Small electronics in the small electronics. Cardboard in the cardboard. On show at the back they have compacted cubes, enough to help you believe that perhaps the work you are doing to separate it all will lead to something positive. It’s hard to trust recycling. The majority of people are thoughtless about it and chuck food packets in with the cardboard and so on, or just whatever in the wherever. At the dump you are being monitored so maybe you are a touch more careful. It’s not perfect there. “I’ve got four glass table tops. Is there any way they can be recycled?” “No, just throw them into rubbish. We can only do bottles and jars.” But it’s trying. It’s a place where you can believe that things don’t just end when their usefulness to you finishes.

I bought new boots a couple of days ago. I could have perhaps stretched my old ones out longer. A good cobbler could resole them and shore them up, but in this disposable world it just seemed easier to renew them entirely. Maybe it was justifiable with the boots, but we are mostly killing the world with our cultural habit of replacing perfectly good things when they aren’t quite working. I’ve fixed ovens and washing machines and cars with internet tutorials. Often the thing that’s gone wrong is easy to solve and working around it does no harm at all and doubles the life of the appliance. Let’s all try and ignore the external pressure to buy new shit all the time and lean into the interesting learning experience of diagnosing and fixing things. It’s fun finding out how things work.

“no photos of the dump please”

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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