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.


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Odds & ends

Sorry for the lack of posts, it’s been a pretty blah month on the mental health front. I guess February sucks for a lot of people in general, but this year is particularly bad as a few good friends have moved away and I’m more alone than I’ve ever been. Plus, it’s a lot harder to meet new people when you’re 34 going on 35, it’s the middle of winter, you struggle with depression & anxiety, and there’s nothing going on in a never-ending pandemic. The garbage has largely sucked too, and I’m meeting an unusual amount of angry people with good garbage that apparently really needs to go to the dump and not somewhere useful for some reason (I’ll get more into that in my next post). I’ve found a few good things, but it’s hard not to wonder about “career path” in these trying times, though I’m sure things will turn around eventually. I’m very much looking forward to spring, but that’s still a ways off.

On the plus side, I finally started using Chit Chats Express for most of my eBay shipping. I heard about it years ago, but for a while their only location was out in Ville St Laurent, and driving out there would offset any savings. Now they have a drop-off location on St-Denis, which is much more convenient. I’d say that I save 5-10$ on most packages, and sometime more than that. Other times it’s more or less the same, and only once was the Chit Chat’s rate a bit higher (for shipping a big Ham radio to Washington State). It also offers tracking on low-value packages that I normally wouldn’t track, due to the extra cost (for example, a 25$ poster to the States costs 6-7$ with tracking, when Canada post would be 12-13$ with no tracking or 18-19$ with – I don’t usually have a problem shipping low-value items without tracking, but it’s still nice to have for both me and the customer).

Anyways, I would recommend them anyone who ships things on a regular basis. I’ve saved probably 150-200$ just in the couple months I’ve been using it, and they have lots of locations across Canada now it seems. Please use my referral code if you do, that way you’ll get 5$ free and I’ll make a few bucks when you start shipping (I believe it’s 10 cents per package in the first month of you using the service).

In other good news I figured out how to get the old WordPress editor back (apparently just needed a “widget”), so now I can quit whining about that. Also, I decided to bring back the Paypal “donate” widget (which stopped working for some reason) because that’s what most bloggers do. Most say “buy me a beer,” but you can also help with blog expenses. It costs about 450$ a year to pay for the WordPress stuff (extra storage space for pics, no ads), and I wouldn’t need as big of a garage if I didn’t blog. Plus the time it takes to make these photo arrangements. Of course I’ve kind of sucked at this blogging thing for a while now, but hopefully one day my brain will cooperate again.

Anyways, this apartment building produced a nice haul in early January. Not much since… but I still check on it.


With apartment building trash you’re bound to find a lot of crap, so I only stop if the garbage pile is interesting. That vintage card table set and mirror was enough to get me to stop the car, and then I discovered that the bags were full of kitchen & dining wares. This short video shows you the sound a bag full of kitchenwares makes. The sound and look of the bags helps me differentiate the good stuff from the bad, the latter of which comprises the vast majority of what we call “garbage.”

All in all I picked out about two big bags worth of stuff, as well as the card table and mirror. There was some breakage, which is common when people throw ceramics and glasswares into bags and then drag them to the curb, but plenty of quality stuff survived.

There was lots of silverplate, but some was pretty worn out and best scrapped (the plated brass and copper is worth decent money at the yard). That serving dish at the top right had its original glass insert, which is pretty uncommon (at least with trash silverplate). That odd looking thing at the bottom right is a vintage “cake comb.”

I found a few things in protective Birks drawstring bags. The nicest piece is probably that cake server on the bottom. Based on my research, it’s a solid silver piece made by Hippolyte Thomas in France sometime in the 1850s. You can see (and zoom in on) the hallmarks below. I don’t find stuff that old particularly often, so that’s fun. It’s probably worth around 150-200$.

A couple of other favs include this early mid-century Pillivuyt porcelain pot, which managed to escape its trip to the curb without any damage. I sold it via the @garbagefindssells Instagram (managed by someone else, but I post occasionally) for 40$, which I think was a good deal.

Also nice was this old decanter with a silver top. Below are the hallmarks, which show that it was made in Birmingham, England in 1911, probably by John Grinsell & Sons. Haven’t figured out a price yet but I’m thinking it’s worth around 100$.

Anyways that’s all for now. Hopefully I can get another post up soon. It’s not for a lack of stuff, just a lack of brain power.

This & that

Just posting a few more finds from last summer. This spot provided a fair bit of “quality junk,” but I only took pictures of some of the finer stuff. One day I found a bit of jewelry, most of which was in this black case.
That bracelet was solid gold, which was a nice find because it had some weight to it. Also gold was the pendant (I forget what that design symbolizes… but I’ve seen it before), the broken chain necklace and the metal bits on the beaded necklace. The Givenchy watch has Chinese characters which is fairly unusual, it’ll probably take a bit of time but I expect it’ll sell for a couple hundred bucks (give or take) at some point. The pen was completely empty inside, I thought it was sterling but it turned out to be just plated.
Also nice was this white gold pendant, which I think was originally an antique earring whose pair was lost. The stones were all diamonds, and I think it sold for 200$ (give or take, was a while back now) via eBay auction.
These folks also tossed a bit of silver, including this Seder cup and mini plate…
… and a cute solid silver menorah. The rest of the stuff was plated.
Last but not least is this nice “Boumier ware” set designed by Lucien Boullemier, who was apparently a soccer player before becoming a ceramicist. A couple pieces had been damaged, but repaired in a pretty discrete way. Looking at this picture now, I wish I’d kept a piece or two, the luster was very pretty… alas you can’t keep it all. Or photograph it all – I also found lots of clothes (mostly 80s, and sometimes from the recycling bin), books, kitchenwares, boxes full of brand new golf balls, several pairs of barely used golf shoes, and other quality junk. But eventually the supply ran out, and last I looked the house is still being renovated nearly one year later.