Yesterday was oversize garbage collection day in the North End--the day when the city will pick up anything smaller than a car and weighing under 50 LBs. For a recycling enthusiast like myself this amounts to a neighbourhood-wide garage sale where everything on display is free and up for grabs. Sure, I feel a little like a scavenger rummaging through the crubside mounds, navigating between old sofas and bundled wood scraps for that discarded gem, that overlooked kitsch trophy or cultural artefact, but in the North End people understand Einstien's Principle of the Relativity of Waste: it's only truly garbage if the sanitation engineers get to it before you do.
Arnold lives across the street from me. He's a stout, cheerful guy in his fifties who moved here from the east coast a couple decades ago. Arnold and his wife have a dog named Dizzie Daisy Duke, after the Dukes of Hazard bombshell. Arnie also has a pick-up truck and an ability to spot steel, tin or aluminum from the driver's seat at a range of fifty metres. Aluminum items are worth the most to the scrap yards, then tin and steel. Discarded propane BBQs are the Holy Grail of scrap colleting, followed by aluminum doors and metal lawnchairs. The yards will also take computer monitors, old VCRs and stereo systems, from which they extract the circuit boards. Televisions, however, get left by the curb (unless they look like they might work). I know all this because two nights ago Arnie and I combed the neighbourhood together in his truck. We made three runs in all, and by midnight we had filled up Arnie's front yard with metal scrap, unloading it with velveteen stealth so as not to incure the wrath of the woman who lives next door and has to get up at 4 AM for work.
Arn offered to pay me for my help, but all I really wanted was a share of the loot. This included a tin garbage can, with lid (for the yard); an old reel-to-reel voice recorder with mic; two Robin's Donuts plastic portable drink containers (Robin's Donuts is the Canadian underdog barrista--the Burger King, to Tim Horton's McDonalds); a couple JVC speakers; a dusty hard shell Samsonite attache case; a 20 LB one-handed dumbell; an old, LP-sized milk crate and, most miraculously, a functioning 70's style turntable, complete with working needle, speakers and transparent plastic canopy!
I've been collecting records for the past year or so, from thrift shops and garage sales, but I haven't had a working turntable on which to spin the wax. Now my little room in the North End is complete with stereophonic sound! I went to sleep listening to Kraftwerk's "We are the Robots" and awoke to ZZ Top's "Sleeping Bag". I can put my speaker in the window, sit in the back yard and give the floozies in the flophouse across the street a dose of Vintage Vinyl to combat the ill effects that the top-40 dance music they like to blare is having on my friend's two year old kid. Thank you, to the City of Hamilton Waste Disposal, and to Arnie and his truck for bringing the gift of music back into my life!