The attack of the big babies

(FYI, I wrote the first half of this post in early February)

The last month of picking has been challenging. It seems like for every two intriguing piles of trash, there’s one person shooing me away from it. This one guy was particularly deranged. He came out to the street to greet me, and kept going on about how I was “stealing” garbage, how he felt like fighting me and trashing my car, how if we were in the States he’d have a shotgun (to do what, exactly I’m not sure), etc etc.

I spent about 15 minutes talking to this dude. Thankfully it never came to blows or shotguns, though he continually felt the need to close talk at me during a pandemic, and went on and on about the “stealing” and how, when I defended the act and legality of picking, I was only “rationalizing” bad behavior. He also spent a fair bit of time trying to convince me how great a guy he was for purportedly giving stuff away on Facebook Marketplace, went on a few diatribes about he wasn’t so well-to-do (despite appearances, and having a lot of expensive & apparently disposable toys), and at one point lied about getting a nice official Habs hoodie (which he was wearing) at Winners for 5$ (I don’t think Winners carries official Habs stuff, and if they did it wouldn’t be 5$). Anyways, I left after spending too long talking to this guy, but not before telling him to seek out a therapist.

I had found some quality stuff here in the weeks prior. One day I found two iPods, one of which I quickly sold for 100$, and another day I found two relatively new Amazon Fire tablets (still have those, need to buy some chargers). I also picked up several packs of unopened printer paper, a bunch of decent books (some of which went to my new Instagram selling account, @garbagefindssells), unopened packages of soap, tea, and toothpaste, as well as barely used cleaning products.

The best stuff though got tossed on the day of our lovely interaction. Fortunately I had 10-15 minutes to pick before he emerged from his castle to yell at me. I probably salvaged most of the good stuff by then, but who knows what I missed. I didn’t go back in later weeks –  I guess I could have gone at like 5am but I didn’t feel like dealing with him anymore. Besides, I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy bashed all his future garbage with a baseball bat out of spite.

Buddy seemed to like buying tools & gadgets and not using them. Here we have a (maybe never used) chisel set, some kind of tack device, a whole bunch of new watch batteries that weren’t close to expiry (I used one for a watch already, which saved me about 5$), and a mini computer that looks to be worth a couple hundred if it works.

That long cardboard box in the intro picture contained mostly long items, including about 10 umbrellas. All were in nice condition, and three were pretty fancy. Two were made by Burberry, and another by Aquascutum. The brand-name umbrellas are worth north of 100$ each given their near pristine condition.

Here’s the last bit of stuff, including the most valuable item – a thermal imaging camera that looked to be brand new in its original case.

I was able to sell the Hti Xintai HT-18 quickly for 300$. This is how it saw my space heater.

Title: “A man and his beloved garbage”

He took a picture of me, so I took a picture of him. Or so I remember… it’s also possible I took it as proof that his trash was on the curb, so it wasn’t “trespassing.” Either way, the photo turned out great so I can’t help but share it here. Made some edits to buddy’s face to ensure his privacy.

A few weeks later I met another pleasant chap (above) on the curb. Unfortunately, I had only a couple minutes alone with the trash before buddy emerged from his garage. He was on his phone, giving neighbourhood security a description of me and my car. We talked briefly, I don’t remember much about his spiel, other than he was more sarcastic & pretentious than aggressive. In those two minutes I pulled out a little box with a few pieces of jewelry inside, including one silver chain.

I went back maybe an hour later because I really wanted to take that one bag with the jewelry for later sorting. My timing wasn’t great though, I passed by neighbourhood security just as I was nearing my destination. The security person pulled me over and gave me a talking to. I tried to debate legalities (I’m not a lawyer, but I often cite this Canadian Supreme Court decision that allows police to look through trash without a warrant, saying the owner essentially abandons their property once they put it out on the curb for collection, and can therefore have no reasonable expectation of privacy given that their trash is accessible to any passing member of the public) but he just gave me the usual talking points. Anyways, there’s not much they can do except tell you to buzz off, but they’ll call in the big guns if you cause any issues, and being a marginal member of society with no money set aside for lawyerly things all I could really do is follow my marching orders. I’d bet that I missed out on some nice stuff by not getting that bag.

I could have tried going back at 5am, but I was feeling discouraged and just wanted to be done with it.

Just a few days later I met a lady while picking outside an apartment building. She was relatively pleasant, noting that I was on her property (ie: 5′ from the sidewalk hanging out with the trash bags) and therefore I had to go. She said this very matter-of-factly, and all I could do is sigh and move on. I think I made close to 100$ from stuff I found there before she came, including a box with several model train cars inside, a red telephone (people seem to like red telephones at the auction house), and some other quality junk.

Anyways, the first two experiences in particular gave me some thoughts about why people are like this. According to popular lore (and confirmed by my mom), a baby will sometimes cry when you take away a toy, even if they weren’t playing with it. They don’t want it, but they don’t want you to have it either. It’s a selfish behavior that has to be worked through. Similarly, adults put their “old toys” in the trash, and then they’ll throw a fit if someone takes interest in it. The adult knows they’re taking the lazy way out of dealing with their possessions, and often know that they’re missing out on money (ie: the 300$ from their nearly new thermal imaging camera) by not dealing with it more effectively, but they’re more mad about my taking & potentially profiting from their old toys and laziness than they are about their own wasteful and selfish behavior. So basically, I’m dealing with a bunch of big babies. The rationalizations might be a little more complex, but in the end the root of the behavior is mostly the same.

Anyways, let me know your thoughts on all this. Pickings have been slim, but I’m excited to see that spring is finally here. At the very least, the warm weather makes picking a lot more fun and feel a lot more casual.

Links

1. My eBay listings, Sign up for eBay (Canada, US), Search for something you want / research something you have (Canada, US) – FYI these are Ebay Partner Network links, so I make a few bucks if you sign up for an account or buy something after getting to eBay using these links
2. Facebook page
3. Follow me on Instagram
4. Email: thingsifindinthegarbage@gmail.com – note that I really suck at email right now, and can’t fulfill most requests for items

2022

After a lousy 2021, it was heartening to start this year off with a couple decent scores. I haven’t been going out as much recently due to the cold, the curfew, and some indifference (it’s harder to get excited to go picking when you’re having bad luck), but sometimes you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

This was last Friday. I stopped here largely due to that Turkish leather bag on the left, which looked interesting enough from the car. There was some quality junk inside, so I took the whole thing, though I eventually left the bag for someone else as it needed some TLC.

Some of my best finds came from the trash can, and were revealed after I removed the top white kitchen waste bag (and dug around a bit).

Here’s most of my take, in one picture. You can have a closer look in the gallery below. I wish I had a better photo of that Indian wooden box at the back left, but the one I took didn’t turn out. I’m wondering if it’s vintage or a relatively recent tourist piece… but either way it’s pretty nice. A friend quickly claimed the Gato Negro (black cat) wall plaque, and the two WWF decorative plates.

This wooden box, made by an artist named Clarence Wills, stored some “junk drawer” type stuff. That’s my favourite type of junk to find, because it’s fun to look through, is small / doesn’t take up much space, and is often partly composed of overlooked treasures. That little wooden lidded trinket box at the bottom right held a few nice pieces of jewelry, which more or less made my day.

The two pieces on the right are gold. The ring is old, 18k white gold and inscribed with the date “1943,” and some other words or names that are hard to make out. It has four small diamonds, but the center stone is missing. Together they have a scrap value of around 300$. The rest of the pieces are silver. That cocktail ring is quite something! It’s about an inch and a half tall.

There were a few other nice pieces in there, like three beaded bracelets, a couple of silver chains (one broken), a Haida brooch, and a necklace featuring a donut-shaped stone & (I think) solid silver beads.

I expect this spot will be a one-hit wonder. I passed by again this week and saw nothing of interest. But I had luck again on Monday in the downtown area, and I’m hopeful that I’ll get a few weeks (or more?) of quality trash from there.

Fog-brained

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while. My brain just hasn’t been very cooperative lately. I have a hard time focusing on anything for any length of time, and keep procrastinating on essential tasks like finishing my taxes and buying clothes. I sometimes struggle to see the point of it all, which sure sounds like something someone with depression would say. I’ve probably spent / been spending too much time alone, which doesn’t help. However, I am trying to eat better (snacking on raw veggies like snow peas, carrots, and turnip), exercise more (going on bike rides, often inspired by nearby trash days), and cut down on caffeine. We’ll see how that goes.

Regarding garbage, this year’s really been a dud so far. I haven’t found any “omg” finds, some nice stuff here and there but little that’s blog worthy. I’m starting to feel like a lot of people did their purging last year, which was great for me, and that the next year or two might be less fruitful than usual. Either that, or I just haven’t been particularly lucky.

Anyways, here’s a few things from last year I haven’t posted yet (there’s still lots more to share, including some “omg” finds). Someone sent me a picture of the pile above on Instagram, and I went to check it out. It looked like an entire apartment was on the curb. I saw evidence of potential bedbuggery on one of the furniture pieces, so I decided to focus on small, easily cleaned items. 

This stuff was pretty grody, so it was probably for the best regardless. All my finds fit into this gross lockbox and a cast iron pot.

It needed a good clean, as you can see. The few things that needed a more delicate touch, like that watch, I wiped down with a damp cloth. 

That was a nice hunk of copper for the scrap bin (left). Haven’t seen any others quite like it, so I wonder if whoever owned it worked in metal processing or something.

Anyways, here’s my pick of the most interesting stuff (and a bit of random junk). I saved a pewter gargoyle & bird skull bracelet, a wizard brooch, a Zippo lighter, a small amount of scrap silver and a tiny bit of gold. That skull ring is a little intense, I’m wondering if it’s a biker thing. It’s silver plated and marked “G&S RP 87.” Based on my acid test I think that bird skull bracelet (?) at top right is unmarked solid silver. It looks pretty well made, and the eyes are some kind of milky-coloured stone. I’m going to have to do some research on that one before doing anything with it. 

Here’s some jewelry I found at a one-off in Hampstead. The little necklace in the middle was tangled up pretty bad but was silver & made by Tiffany. I think it ended up selling for a couple hundred bucks. The rest of this stuff was silver as well, if I recall correctly.

This was the only interesting piece of jewelry found at another spot. Can anyone make out this signature?

I found another small jewelry haul in NDG, along with some other quality junk though nothing exciting enough to post here. The bracelet was silver, and the lone cufflink was 18k gold. The latter was hefty enough that it alone was worth around 250$ for its weight. I was thinking the pearl earrings were gold too, but they were not. 

Here’s some stuff from a Westmout one-hit-wonder. There was lots of relatively high-end touristy stuff here, a lot of which went straight to the auction. I took pictures of the smaller stuff, like that little stone dish (made in Kenya), and those little ceramic tiles (made in Mexico). 

They also tossed a nice collection of pens. The nicest: a Sheaffer fountain with an 18k gold nib (gold cap near middle), a Cross fountain which I can’t find right now, and a matching Pelikan fountain & ballpoint. Most of the rest were medical swag, so I’m guessing the previous owner was a doctor. I didn’t know thalidomide was still around… the more you know.

Finally, some pens from a particular successful run (at least when it came to finding pens) in NDG. One spot offered two of the same Parker “cisele” sterling silver ballpoints, which are always an easy sale (though I may keep one), while another spot gave me a set of Sheaffers, a nice green Parker fountain, and a very striking gold-tone Parker with a 14k nib. I still have all these, I have to figure out the model name and all that if I want to get the best price.

Anyways, that’s all for now. Hopefully it won’t be another two months before I can get my brain in gear again.