One man's trash is another man's convenience center

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comDecember 31, 2013 


I would turn over a new leaf for New Year's, but I'm too busy turning over cardboard boxes, plastic bottles and aluminum cans.

Santa Claus brought me the weirdest gift this year: home garbage pickup and recycling.

All these years, I've been taking our garbage to the dump, or what Beaufort County prefers to call a "convenience center."

The convenience center is now located right outside our back door.

The trash company has left us a green plastic can for our recyclable materials, and we're trying to remember to put stuff in it. They haven't yet come to pick up the stuff, but since this was a Christmas gift, not an April Fool's gift, I know they'll be here soon.

Meanwhile, there goes my social life.

I will miss my friends at the dump.

Living the life of a "dumpster," if you will, has been so interesting.

We have been nomads, moving from site to site as the county and the Town of Hilton Head Island tussled over the privilege of always being at our disposal.

Before landing at today's five-star garbage emporium off Dillon Road, we traipsed to dumps where Hilton Head Elementary School is today, where the Hilton Head Airport terminal is today, and at Otter Hole, behind Hilton Head's Walmart.

Few of us were ever actual dump divers. But we found a lot of neat stuff there.

It's like my grandfather's old joke about the lady who said every time she's down in the dumps, she gets a new hat. And her husband said, "So that's where you get them."

A lady who ran the Bluffton dump used to brighten up her world and ours with recycled plastic flowers.

It was our unwritten code to leave things out of the dumpster if someone else might be able to use them. For a long time, there was a special bin for clothing, so families who needed clothes could get to it easier. Whether or not that was the plan, that's how the bin was used.

We secretively played a little game to see if we could pick up nicer junk than the junk we delivered.

I once came home with a globe. It was an impulse "purchase." I must have thought it was important for the children to learn what the world looked like in the last millennium. The wobbly piece of junk stayed in an empty room for a year, then was delivered back to the dump so it could spin its inaccuracies on yet a newer generation.

One day I got a fertilizer spreader. It worked perfectly, except that it tended to spread 15 pounds of fertilizer at a time, all in the same spot. I hope the next guy to pick it up appreciated the coat of Rust-Oleum I sprayed on it.

The craziest thing I ever saw at the dump was a dead bobcat. Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it was a shawl from Sea Pines. But that's what it looked like at the time.

My neighbor Jim says the craziest thing he ever saw in one of the bins at the dump was a Volkswagen Beetle.

Oh, what a waste of good, solid humanity it is to recycle New Year's resolutions in our own, private convenience center.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at

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