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Down in the Dumps

One ritual I’ve enjoyed this summer is getting up early and going to the dump. This morning was no exception. Having loaded the car with large black garbage bags filled from a weekend of visitors, stuff from downsizing and an old dehumidifier, my mother and I drove to the dump with the windows wide open, enjoying the hint of fall in the air.

After tossing the bags into the humungous trash masher we headed over to the metal area. 

“Is there where we leave the dehumidifier?” my mom asked a guy wearing construction gloves.


He nodded. “But it costs fifteen dollars.” Despite our dump sticker, we had to pay extra. I left the humidifier with the heaping pile of televisions, washing machines and scrap metal and we headed home with smiles on our faces, happy to have lightened our load. However, the $15 fee had me thinking about how many times we actually pay for the same thing. My parents spent money when they bought the dehumidifier and now they were spending money to get rid of it. And while they needed and used the dehumidifier, many of us pay for things – things we don’t use – over and over.

Case in point self-storage units, which have been popping up in neighborhoods as fast as coffee shops. While there are numerous reasons people use storage units, most often the stuff stored sits unused and forgotten. Except by bill collectors. Doesn’t it seem ridiculous to pay for stuff you don’t use month after month?

The popular TV show “Storage Wars” is a great example of this. Folks who can no longer afford to pay their storage fee end up of forfeiting the contents. And while yes, there is the occasional hot ticket item (that makes for good television) most of the junk inside isn’t worth the cost of storing it.

On a whim I Googled “scrap metal” and my parents’ zip code. A few places popped up and I called the first one.

“Can I bring over a dehumidifier?” I asked. “And if so, how much is it to leave it?”

“Sure,” the guy said. “But it won’t cost you anything. We give you money for it.”

Then I smiled, realizing I wouldn’t have to lighten my wallet again in order to lighten my load.

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