Way Too Many Dead Animals
“One dumpster I come across always has skinned raccoons in it. It had a deer hide inside it for a few months because it was frozen to the bottom.
Another dumpster was filled with onions. Nothing else, just onions. This house is way out in the middle of nowhere.
Schools are terrible because apparently, they don’t dump their excess milk down the drain, so there is always a good three inches in the bottoms of certain dumpsters. Three inches of cheese when it gets hot.
Some people throw out things that I cannot understand how they expect one guy to be able to pick up. How am I supposed to take a hot tub? I managed it, but it was difficult.
Also, if someone throws away something that says ‘DO NOT OPEN!’ on it, it’s probably best to not open it, there will be a dead cat in there.”
Washed Up Sea Life
“One summer, I worked at a city maintenance department. My job was to collect the trash from the city; mostly empty trash cans and pick up garbage from the ground, clean up after the market. The city I worked at was near the sea, hence why I was hired during the summer, since there are a lot of tourists.
Anyway, on my first day, we got a call from our superior about something we had to collect in the sea: a dead dolphin. The thing itself wasn’t that disgusting, it had died recently, but man did it give me a good impression on my first day!”
A Window Into History
“This was in the early 90s. I was emptying the public trash cans in a city center in the middle of England. I saw this expensive leather-bound photo book. I took it and lobbed it in the backseat to check out later.
After work, I started looking through it and was amazed. It started with these fresh-faced young soldiers laughing and gurning at the camera. I think they were doing their training in some leafy camp in England. Then it switched to this terrible-looking place in an awful desert – it was the time of the Gulf War. The smiles were gone and then the carnage came. Busted tanks, cars, and people. Fires, death and destruction. Almost unrecognizable burnt corpses. Just horrible, horrible images.
Then I stopped looking and discarded it in the trash as the owner had intended. I often wonder who threw that away. I hope it was the soldier trying to forget rather than one of his grieving relatives. That was more than 20 years ago, but I think of that poor boy a lot.”
The Garbage Bins Everyone Forgot
“I was a county park worker for a summer: mow the grass, trim the trees, repair playgrounds/picnic areas, etc. This was a large area; thousands of acres, lots of wood in the park. There were close to 60 garbage cans on the property. We took turns being trash guys with one large pickup truck that had been our trash hauler for YEARS. The thing stunk. I was quick at the job, so I used free time after my hauling to read the newspaper or just mess around for a couple hours at the end of the day. Well, one day the supervisor catches me. I was being stupid about my parking location and instead of chewing me out, he says, ‘Bet you missed one garbage!’ I thought after two months I knew the park pretty well, but he pulls out the trail map and shows me, almost dead center of the woods, one location with the trash symbol on it, and insists I bring a wheelbarrow.
How bad can this be? Almost a quarter mile into the woods, there’s a pair of trash cans and the lids aren’t quite sitting right on them. Walking up, the smell hits me. Terrible in the humid Minnesota August heat. I open the top to see they’re both filled to the top with dog baggies. They had to be over 50 pounds each. There was a struggle to get each one up, and I was dry heaving after the first one. Only one would fit into when wheelbarrow at a time.
Getting back to the shop to clean up and go home for the day, I asked my fellow park workers about those garbages and none of them even knew they were there. It hadn’t been emptied for months.”
Cleaning After-Hours Can Be Lucrative As Well
“After years of cleaning up different bars and clubs, I have found jewelry, change, loose bills, tools, decorations, barware, and valuable scraps from doing demolition and renovations.
As an after-hours cleaner, I have found cash, IDs, and other personal effects. Many times I find smoke packs (I don’t smoke) and even illegal substances (non-user). Confiscated beverages usually get put in the back as it is illegal to have on premises, and many times this means free cans or bottles of those drinks. Only if it’s unopened, though.
These sorts of jobs have given me the idea to go around on garbage days and check out what people have put out as trash. I have had some luck going around finding electronics, furniture, appliances, all sorts of things. Example: came home from the bar one night and grabbed a 25-CD changer on my way home. Also, working on job sites for demolitions yields LOTS of valuable scrap materials. Steel, appliances, perfectly good hauls that will net you a certain number of dollars per pound.
And don’t get me started on what I find on the ground just walking around. Once I went to Oktoberfest and found 11 drink tickets and $25 in cash. The next night I went out again and nabbed six tickets and $32.50. Drink tickets were $6 each. All on the floor of the venue, nobody else even noticed. Came out with pocket money both nights.
Doing the cleanup crew work helps you develop an eye for what people are willing to toss out, lose, and neglect. And there is something to be said for these professionals. They learn to understand the wasteful tendencies of people in general. As most of us know, people will throw out just about anything, and yet one man’s trash can be another’s treasure.”
When The Trash You Pick Up Is Making Sounds
“I grew up hauling trash in a family-owned business. When I was about 10 years old, we were hauling trash at 4 a.m., and our first stop we went out to, was the chicken farm just outside of town. When I got out of the truck, all I could hear was chirping. I threw back the lids of the dumpster and it was filled with little crates of baby chicks. I’m talking hundreds of them. I don’t know why they threw them away (my dad said they were probably sick or something). What else could we do but dump the container? For the next few hours, all I could think about was how the chirping got quieter and quieter as we packed on a load. By the time we got to the landfill only a few were still alive.”
“The strangest thing I ever encountered was a fire. Seriously, the trash was on fire. The customer and I had been butting heads on their refusal to meet the requirement of the trash being bagged. So when I walked up to the trash bin and it was in flames, I thought they were saying, ‘Screw you, we’ll just burn the trash!’ But I saw them at their dinner table, knocked on the window, motioned towards the trash to indicate, like, ‘What the heck?’ and they freaked out. They all came out running with water and put the fire out. Turns out they had been cleaning the ashes from the fireplace and dumped what they thought was put out, but the coals were still warm. It had flared back up from the jostling. If I would’ve shown up just five minutes later, their whole garage would have probably been on fire.”
Very Specific Organs
“I used to remove hazardous waste from a large hospital. One day I got called into the operating room because some tech had thrown away a gallbladder that needed to be tested for cancer. We called the dumpster company, and they came to open it, and I then spent the next three hours or so going through the dumpster searching for a cancer-ridden gallbladder.”
When The Bin Is Unusually Heavy
“When doing day labor I was sent to fill in as a garbage man for a few days. I’ve been a plumber’s apprentice, janitor, and ditch digger, but dumping cans into the back of that truck was the hardest I’ve ever had to work. In just a few days, I saw some crazy stuff, but the weirdest thing I can think of was at one of the first houses. I couldn’t pick up the can, and the driver was yelling at me – giving me attitude and saying I was weak and such. He came around and tried and failed to move it himself. When we opened the lid it was completely full of neatly stacked bricks. I opened the bin next to it, and although nearly filled up with what looked like normal trash, it was topped off with four dead cats.”
Deciding To Look The Other Way
“I was a garbage man for a number of years in the early ’90s. I live in a small town that is mostly Italian, and one morning we were sent out to collect the dumpster from a truck stop on the outskirts of town. As the truck was pouring the contents of the dumpster into the back, I saw a wet box break apart. The box contained a bunch of submachine weapons and magazines of ammo.
I stopped the winch, told the driver, and we both decided to play dumb (not difficult) and pretend we didn’t see them. So I continued on and crushed it all.
I just remember being afraid that they were dropped off for a pickup or exchange, and if someone saw me taking them or I was found with them, it’d be a bad day for me.
Also – this was before the internet was big, but we used to find photo albums. Those were always a great find because it was almost guaranteed that if someone was throwing away a photo album, there were Polaroids of their naked white trash girlfriend in there. So we had a big stash of photo albums at the base from over the years.”
When Animal Bodies Liquify
“I have a customer that slaughters a bunch of sheep for a fair once a year. The dumpster sits for almost a month in the blazing sun of summer. The smell is unreal. One year, the dumpster sprayed the garbage collector with a blast of gut goo. He’s a farmer and didn’t seem to mind that he was covered in that stuff. I laughed.”
Finding Enough Stuff To Run A Business On The Side
“A friend of mine worked for garbage collection, and later, at a sorting facility. He made a decent business selling all sorts of electronics and appliances people would leave at the free drop-off point.
He had hundreds of old computers. Commodores, Amigas, old Macs and gaming consoles. He’d switch around the dead parts (if there were any), re-solder components, and clean everything in some chemical solution where you’d dip the whole chipboard. He even used some sort of chemical that would de-age the plastic. You know how old plastic goes all yellow? He wiped this solution on it and left for a day or so, and it would look just like new.”
Wondering What Things Would Be Worth Today
“I have an uncle who had a refuse business back in the ’90s. The coolest find was just about every single G.I. Joe action figure. There were a large number of the vehicles too, but the figure collection was almost complete. My uncle contracted me to sort them, so we could sell them at the community yard sale, and he said he’d pay me. Being like 11, and liking the idea of having money in my pocket, I went ahead and did it. We sold most everything, and I made around $60. I look back on that day and regret it. I wish I had the foresight at 11 to not sell those action figures.”
Some Live Animals As Well
“I worked sorting recyclables at the municipal plant one summer. (For the record, we actually put recyclables in bags.) I cracked open one bag and it was full of half-used lotion bottles, adult toys, and contraceptive plastics. In another bag, I found a live frog and I took him out to a pond! I also found a giant live rat in the garbage pile. That was kind of fun. All the money that was found was put in a jar and used to buy lottery tickets for the staff.”
Enough Junk To Build A Playhouse
“My grandfather used to work at the dump. My family called it the Road 120 Hardware Store. He brought everything home. Tools galore, all kinds of metal for recycling, furniture, decorative odds, and ends. He built my sister and me a playhouse outside that was entirely furnished with people’s junk. Child-sized table and chairs, a tiny TV and radio, loads of toys that just needed a little scrubbing. My grandparents had a yearly garage sale with all the findings they didn’t want and made hundreds of dollars selling people their own stuff back to them.”
Finding A New Pet In The Trash
“My dad was a garbage man for most of my childhood, and he has some good stories. One of my favorite ones (not disgusting… but could have been) is that he found a live duck in the garbage right before he was going to throw the bin in. He got it out and took it home and we kept it for several years while we lived in the country. After we moved, we set the duck free in a local park where lots of ducks lived.”
Move-out Piles Take Forever
“I was a driver for a large company with green trucks. People will throw ANYTHING away. Skinned sheep heads. Gigantic, soiled adult toys. Deer stomachs. One house had 15 bags of nearly-new, designer clothes in the trash each week for almost a month. Move-out piles were the worst. People would toss out what seemed like the entire contents of the house, and it would take us 15 minutes to load the truck, then we would fill up early and have to run to the landfill, and it would screw the whole day.
Found some good stuff, though. An entire box of brand-new, embossed metal Rolling Rock Brewery signs that I sold on eBay for $400. An unopened box of copper tubing. My loader found two 1920s baseball cards worth several thousand dollars.”
Lots Of Technology
“I worked as sort of a secondary garbage man (I was on the truck when they needed an extra hand or the main guy was sick) and from the short time I have a list of the things I found. And some of the more valuable things the other guys acquired. Mind you this is all in a small Canadian town.
A working PlayStation 3, a working iPhone 4 (before the 5 was introduced). Two laptop computers (monitors were broken, but nothing else). Multiple desktop PCs. An FM transmitter. Every tool you would ever need. A Nintendo 64 with a few games. Five bottles of unopened spirits. All sorts of hunting equipment. And furniture. Lots of good furniture that I ended up refurbishing and selling.
A lot of what I found was technology, simply because I had an eye for it.
The main garbage man had a room in his house dedicated to the things he found. From $400 snowboards to full toolboxes and audio systems. And the truck driver made about an extra $500 every two months from recycling cans people would throw away.
I also stumbled across a $100 bill at the landfill.”
Some People Don’t Know The Value Of Their Trash
“My buddy curb-surfed a neighbor’s place while moving out and found a huge box of baseball cards. For those who don’t know, most baseball cards made between 1980 and 1995 are worthless, but I collect, and it was a nice gesture. I dug through about half of them one night and found nothing of value. The next night I was trying to avoid work and decided to continue my exercise in futility. At the bottom of the box, I noticed some cards that looked ‘different’ on their sides. Somehow, some desirable vintage cards had found their way into the box. Among them, a complete set of 1957 Elvis Cards, a complete 1950s Topps western set, a large group of 1954 Bowman football cards with Hall of Fame-ers, and a 1958 near-complete set of Topps cards with Jim Brown Rookie. In all, easily worth $1500.”
Careless Stores Don’t Know What They Have
“I worked in the trash industry for six years. I hauled it to the landfill for two years and loaded it for four. While hauling trash, I found all kinds of copper wire, unopened spirits, and Walmart and Kmart returns. I’m not entirely sure why they chucked these items instead of reselling, but it was their loss.
During my years loading it at the transfer, I realized that you’d be shocked at the things companies throw out. The drivers who picked up the trash would keep the loaders and some of the bosses in the loop. Every Tuesday, a load would come in from a high-end electronics store. I still use the speaker system, receiver, and the DVD player I got from those loads. I worked the night shift at my first loading gig, and sometimes the local Budweiser warehouse would throw out bottles. They weren’t throwing out bad product, they were throwing out entire pallets because a couple of the cases were damaged. Needless to say, I filled my truck. Another time, a store had a fire and the insurance company made them destroy their stock. Almost all of the bottles had a little soot on them but were drinkable. I filled an entire storage unit with spirits. It was nice to have my own little beverage store. The Walmart loads were always full of toys and working electronics.
You’d be amazed to see what companies throw out. Also, when people die and the family doesn’t want to deal with their stuff, it goes in a dumpster. I have several classic Playboys, along with just about anything you could imagine.”
It’s Amazing What Students Will Discard
“I was in charge of security for several large dorms in Virginia’s second-largest university. I would help with room inspections when the students moved out for the summer break. We would split the dorms up into sections, each checking the rooms in their assigned section. Whatever was left in the rooms by the students was fair game. It was like a game of legalized looting. You would not believe what these kids would leave behind. Televisions, computers, clothes, shoes, VCRs (this was a while ago), food (canned or jarred food), furniture, CDs, stereos, and much more. I think part of it was from student aid refunds. I believe some of these kids would buy things with their refund checks then be unable to take their new ‘toys’ home with them because they would be unable to explain to their parents that they had spent their entire refund check on guilty pleasures. The best thing I ever found was a large television. It was heavy but worth the struggle. I also found a large plastic water cooler bottle filled with change. After rolling the coins, I figured out I had over $300 in coins. These are all things that were willingly and deliberately left behind. We didn’t start the process until two days after the last day to move out, giving everyone ample time. The lease agreement signed by the residents stated clearly they would forfeit anything left in their dorms after the end of the semester. One student left his entire wardrobe, and he had expensive taste in clothes and shoes. He was smaller than me but I called a few friends and they took all of his name brand clothes and shoes. It was always fun, the crew would have walkie-talkies and there was constant chatter. ‘You won’t believe what I just found in 343A!’ ‘Does anyone want a leather La-Z-boy? It’s in good shape but I don’t need it.'”
Fighting Over Expired Garbage
“My dad and uncle used to work in the garbage department. They told me they used to love working near the university because the rich kids would throw out anything and everything. Loose change, slightly used appliances – everything. My dad still has a replica of a flail, a hand axe, and an old-school weapon that he found while assigned to the garbage route.
We have a brewery in my town that used to throw out recently expired (full) bottles or excess product at the city dump site. Guys would swarm the spot where the bottles were dumped. My dad says most of the time the guys would split it between them, but sometimes someone would get greedy, and a fistfight would ensue.”