Being a garbageman has always been one of my dream jobs. I’m not lying – I’ve always dreamed about hanging off the back of a truck and digging through the stuff that people are getting rid of.
Not sure what that says about me…
1. Just another day…
A normal day at the landfill was interrupted by a scream of terror from the dozer driver who came running full tilt and white as a sheet up to my me. He just kept saying heads, heads, heads, over and over again. They went back to his dozer and found a garbage bag torn open with ten bloody heads spilling out of it. Somebody had thrown away ten mannequin heads that had been used in a local haunted house.
When former Football player Ricky Williams briefly retired to become a spiritual guru in the hills he moved into a place that was on my recycling route. I noticed a box he tossed once and grabbed it to see if there was any memorabilia or football items related in it. It looked important. What was in it was team doctors papers, contracts and just about all the personal information that one would need to actually become Ricky Williams.
I felt weird that this was out there, so I took it home and burned every piece of it in the fireplace. Felt guilty even looking at it as I tossed it.
My good friend who used to work at a recycling plant found an Enigma machine. That’s an encryptment device the Nazis used. It was worth like 10,000 dollars.
4. Top Secret
I lived in Stuttgart, Germany back in the early 90’s. They had something called Sperrmüll day (bulk refuse), where people would put out their bulky items for collection. But a lot of useful and even brand new stuff would go out so it was common practice for a lot of people to drive around -particularly in the rich neighborhoods- to see if something good was available. I had a lot of furniture, skis, bicycles, etc, that I had gotten this way.
On this particular one I found a wooden roll top desk that only needed some sanding and refinishing. When I got it home and started taking it apart, one of the locked drawers had a binder with US department of defense schematics for what looked like a howitzer cannon. The whole thing had lots of RESTRICTED ACCESS stamped all over it.
I called the US embassy (this was at night) and left a voice mail in their emergency contact line. They called me within an hour and 2 MPs and 2 crew cuts in suits showed up at my house in less than 1/2 hour after that! After a lot of questions, thorough examination and some arguing about who would keep the desk (they took a lot of pictures of it and said they might send someone out later to collect it, but never did) they asked me to keep the incident to myself and left.
I never heard anything else about that event. My guess is that the documents were in the possession of a military worker living in the city and someone in his/her household wasn’t careful about throwing stuff away. The fact that people who looked like CIA showed up in my house so fast is the exciting part.
A box of live rabbits. I don’t know how this managed to happen but a lady had mistakenly put the said box in her bin. She was hysterical, came to the site and we found the box with all the rabbits still perfectly healthy.
I work in the office a company that collects garbage. I got a call from a customer and she stated that every time they bring their bin back up from the street, something on it burns their skin. I called the operations manager who went out to check it out with the environmental officer. Turns out the next door neighbour had a meth lab and was disposing of toxic chemicals in his bin and there was some transfer.
7. Oh no. No no no.
I worked at a recycling plant in Springfield, Ma. One day while we were unloading a cardboard dumpster, we noticed an arm sticking out. There he was, in all his purple glory. This poor gent had drunkenly crawled into a cardboard bin the previous day and ended up being pressed and compacted into a cube. So yeah, that was fun.
I’m sort of ashamed to admit it because I feel like it was profiting off the misfortune of others but I lived in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina and I basically rebuilt my house from stuff that people tossed. I was amazed at the amount of stuff people ripped out that was above the waterline. People would literally hire crews to gut their entire house and they would put everything, and I repeat, everything on the side of the road.
I still have a 3 storage units full of house parts I picked up back then that I have slowly been incorporating into my current home renovation. It was truly a shame to see all this great old stuff be tossed and replaced with hardware store junk. I could have filled 10 more units with stuff I saw and couldn’t store.
This was in the early 90’s. I was emptying the public trash cans in a city centre in mid England. I saw this really expensive bound leather photograph holder book. I took it and lobbed it in the cab to check out later.
After work I started looking through it and it started with these fresh faced young soldiers laughing and grinning at the camera. They were doing their training I think in some leafy camp in England. Then it switched to an awful looking desert – it was the time of Gulf War I.
The smiles went and then the carnage came. Busted tanks, cars and people. Fires, death and destruction. Almost unrecognizable burnt corpses. Just horrible, horrible stuff.
Then I stopped looking and threw it away 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.
A friend whose dad was a garbageman (distant I know but still) once told me he found an engagement ring and a pack of condoms in a small disposable bag, he always wanted to know the story behind it.
We’d get some interesting stuff from crime scenes, police evidence, ect. But the most questionably disposed of item was a Smith and Wesson revolver from a police department in Virginia, in a box of evidence. Should have kept my mouth shut and kept that one.
11. Quite a haul
I think the most useful thing I found was a 15-foot logging chain. It must have weighed 40 pounds, and I use it on my tractor. Other than that…
Two Egyptian Papyrus paintings, framed.
3 Mountain bikes- one had a loose rear axle (tightened the nut, had it fixed in seconds) the others had flat tires.
12 working VCRs. With LOTS of VHS porn.
An entire box of new-in-wrapper embossed steel Rolling Rock Beer signs. Sold them on Ebay for over $300.
12. Bug Lady
One of the floors in the building had a huge problem with bugs. One night I was collecting the trash off the floor when I noticed she had very carefully decorated a cardboard box to look like a hotel, and had a sign inviting people to drop any bugs they found inside. It was weird, but I figured she was just collecting proof of the bug problem to get management to do something about it.
A few weeks later, I turned the corner to her cubicle, and it was covered in bugs. There were about 20, tacked up all over with pushpins. And they were BEDAZZLED. Each of these bugs had its own unique pattern.
After we told management about it they finally did bring an exterminator in! We still talk about the “bug lady” to this day.
13. Very nice
I once found a big black dildo that was around 10 inches long and a good 2 1/2 inches wide. We promptly decided to play tag with it and eventually fastened it to the front of the truck.
My ex’s dad was a garbage man for a decade. He told me once while drunk he found ton of cash in a recycling box and pocketed it before tossing it in the back of the truck. Said it was almost $3K in a rubber band.
Not me, but my Dad was garbage man. He found his share of cool stuff. he worked from 1969-1989 for the DSNY. I still have a lamp made from an old brass fire extinguisher that he found, like many others, he found lots of TV’s, some new clothes (usually at Christmas time – that is why we always went through the wrapping paper), baseball cards by the box, wish I kept those, some WWII stuff, most notably an SS Dagger – but one of the wings of the eagle was broken and attached with scotch tape. Stamps, cause I collected them when I was a kid. I have a Hitler postage stamp somewhere from this.
I was a garbage man for a number of years in the early 90s. I live in a very small town that is mostly Italian, and one morning we were sent out to collect the dumpster from a trucks top 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 and inside were a bunch of submachine guns 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 as though I hadn’t seen them.
I just remember being afraid that they were dropped off for a pickup or exchange and if some saw me taking them or I was found with them, it’d be a really bad day for me.
17. Sounds safe…
In an old school, a forgotten high school chemistry lab from the 60s. Jars and jars of things like thermite, sticks of yellow phosphorous submerged in some yellow-colored liquid that had evaporated to the point where there was only 1/8″ of liquid covering the top of the sticks and the slightest movement would cause the top end of the sticks to be uncovered.
This was all on the same racks as a jar of mercury, about a pound of powdered asbestos, spools of magnesium ribbom, quantities of powdered sulfur, nitroglycerin, potassium permanganate, cans that had rusted through (they still contained – something – but the labels were too corroded to read), acid nitric and too many other bottles to read as just being in that room for a couple of minutes gave me a splitting headache.
It had apparently been a well-stocked chemistry lab for high school students decades previously then one day the school closed so they locked the door and nobody had entered it (much less cleaned it out) for decades.
A severed arm with no hand… At first I thought it was from an animal until I looked closer in horror that it clearly was a human elbow.