when you pay people to take your trash - Friday October 18 2002

setting: rural Hurley, New York

Yesterday Kristenís boyfriend Mustafa had worked all day and only managed to paint one room, an area back between the kitchen and laundry room which we refer to as ďthe office.Ē Weíve decided to keep the carpet in this area as is, so once it was painted, it would be the one place in the entire house where we could actually move stuff in permanently.
To speed up the painting process, today Mustafa brought his friend Asan, who would also be an African drummer of dubious immigration status were it not for the fact that he recently married an American woman. They spent most of the day painting the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Gretchen told them they didnít need to use drop cloths in the living room, since she intends to have that carpet thrown away and she thought she sensed the sort of dismay that a resourceful person feels when encountering wanton waste. As places for honing a sense of resourcefulness go, West Africa is about as good as it gets.
Yesterday there had been no way to play music in the house, but today Mustafa brought a CD player, and on this he and Asan played almost nothing but African music all day. Most of this music was nothing but drumming. Being African drummers, this stuff speaks to them. But to my ear it is monotonous and slightly irritating, kind of like hearing a barking dog who doesnít have the sense to shut up.
Gretchen sent me on a mission to pick up cash to pay the painters, and while I was out I also got some soft drinks in case anyone wanted them (being Muslim, it seemed doubtful that the painters were going to want beer, but who knows). I went to a store in "downtown" Hurley called the Hurley Country Store. It had a broad selection of hardware, model train supplies, art and crafts materials, and a respectable diversity of food items. Some of these were like none Iíd seen anywhere else and it made me wonder what sort of person was responsible for placing the orders and stocking the shelves. Before I walked into the Hurley Country Store, I donít think I could have told you where to go to get a box containing the whole spectrum of midsized cotter pins. The soft drinks I bought were several flavors of a brand Iíd yet to encounter: Twisted Bean. They were so good I ended up drinking two of them over the course of the day. Their flavors didnít seem very different; they all were based on vanilla with hints of this and that, eye of newt, quill of porcupine, etc. Wouldnít it cause you to reassess the inherent crassness of humanity if, on her own, Britney Spears suddenly renounced her Pepsi endorsements and instead gave her valuable and convincing pop star endorsement to a microbrew soft drink like Twisted Bean Vanilla Brew?
The dump was open today, so I drove down there with bags full of demolished drywall, gold metal fixtures thrown out by Gretchen, and scads of cardboard. When I inquired, the guy at the dump told me the rules: I could recycle for free, but to get rid of trash Iíd have to pay seven cents per pound (for some reason I thought he said seventeen cents). Hmm, thatís a lot of money to pay to have someone take your stuff from you. I grumbled inside, since Iíd assumed throwing away trash would be free. But nonetheless I thing having to pay to throw things away is a good thing. A system in which you have to pay to get rid of things encourages you to find ways to reuse the things you already have, perhaps keeping you from buying new things made from virgin materials. Mind you, Iíd earmarked some of the demolished drywall for use in restoring the gashes left by the demolished wall, but I still had a lot I needed to get rid of and drywall is heavy. It ended up costing me something like thirteen dollars to get rid of the stuff I had. While I was there, I saw someone else throw out a huge old television set. When it landed in the bottom of the dumpster, the stem of the cathode ray tub must have broken, because what followed was the loud hiss of air rushing to fill a suddenly-exposed vacuum.
Despite the fact that he took my money in exchange for my dumping trash in his dumpster, the dump guy was actually very nice. He even had some treats for Sally, which he gave her after noticing her sitting quietly in my passenger seat. I take Sally everywhere with me because there's nothing she likes doing more than riding around in a pickup truck.
At around 8pm, I was installing a flying saucer-style fluorescent lamp over the kitchen island when there came a knock at the door. It was the neighbors from just down the hill, the older parents of the guy who had sold us our house. Theirs is the only property that stands between ours and Catskill State Park. They'd come simply to welcome us to the neighborhood with a bottle of Artiste de France Cabernet Sauvignon. How sweet of them! We didnít chat long, just long enough for me to comment that I'm originally from Virginia and that this area has all the advantages of the rural place where I grew up, but without the constant gunfire.

Later on our real estate agent Larry came to pick us up and take us out to dinner. He's a really classy guy, always doing something nice for the people who actually purchase property through him.
We went out to a restaurant called Terrapin in the greater Hurley area. It was a much classier place than you'd normally expect to find in these remote hills; this probably reflects the continual influx of big city taste (such as that which we bring!) into the area. Larry is a little too self-absorbed for my taste, and I get the vibe from him that he doesn't think there's much going on in my head, but he really clicks with Gretchen. After a long tangent-filled conversation about recent homoerotic flirting in Larry's life, the topic turned to an idea for a situation comedy centering on a small town real estate office. Larry and Gretchen came up with various characters, such as a woman with a strong Brooklyn accent who deals exclusively in raised ranches. Larry also had a hilarious scene for the pilot drawn directly from real life. Someone would bring a bunch of deviled eggs to some sort of pot luck or party and, once the room smelled good and sulfurous, someone else would walk in and ask if there was a problem with the sewer. The only aspect of the prospective show that seemed to be causing any trouble was the name, so I piped up briefly and suggested "This Sold House." Larry and Gretchen were delighted.

send me mail
previous | next