It seems like a hundred years ago and just yesterday that an old college buddy dropped by for a few days to say hello. I had just put down the last coat of yacht seal on the floor and the trailer was still empty and pristine. One afternoon she kept me company while I built this bed. Thanks to her you guys get a picture this time around with an actual human in it. That was during the “holy shit I can almost move in” blind euphoria stage, as you might be able to decipher in my facial expression.
I had been saving the wood for this project for months as not long after we pulled my wagon home I had found a homemade wooden bed construction in the trash across the street. I unscrewed all of the slats and put them, along with the two longer beams that had served as a bed frame to the previous owner, in Frankenshed. One of them later replaced a rotten beam in the outside wall, while the rest—along with several other bits of wood dumpster dived at the building supply store—became this bed.
I had been uncertain as to where I would get a mattress. The first mattress I’d had in Germany I’d picked up off the street. But, when I moved into my first wagon, I gave it to the friend who had been kind enough to let me store all my crap in his basement for months and months and months.
A lot of people are squeamish about dumpstering mattresses, but I judge by the area, the surrounding trash, and the mattress itself, and then I take my chances. I wouldn’t, for example, take a mattress from a pile of old nasty (wet/moldy/food-splattered/etc) looking trash because I would expect that the mattress had probably just emerged from the same dark crevice as the rest of the debris surrounding it and/or been laying outside for days.
I found my first mattress in one of Frankfurt’s wealthier quarters, neatly stacked with some other “trash” (re: treasures) that were very obviously being tossed because of a move or an upgrade. I carried the mattress home balanced on my head, and slept well on it for the next three years. The point is, not every dumpstered mattress is full of bugs, but you should do yourself a favor and “read” the trash around it thoroughly before you take one home: your skin will thank you when it doesn’t end up crawling with scabies or bedbugs.
Eventually a mattress came my way in the form of a present from another friend who was moving house. And the rest is trash history. All my pillows, all my pillow cases, all my blankets, all my duvet covers, and almost all of my fitted sheets came from the trash across the street. Come moving day, students just wrap up their entire beds in the bottom sheet, tie a knot, and throw it in the bin just like that. (Rumor has it that afterward they enjoy burning the entire contents of their wallets.) Then along comes a Nikki, who fishes them out, washes them thoroughly, and sleeps happily ever after.
A few days ago the Beard and I passed a mattress store on a walk through the city. Bins in front of the store advertised “Pillows on sale for 10 Euros, Previously 25.” I pointed to the sign and did a quick calculation: Five pillows on my bed, four pillows on the Beard’s. “So if I’d bought all our pillows new, I’d have had to spend 225 Euros, 90 if I’d gotten them all on sale. Which means I’d either have had to work a hell of a lot more, or that we’d only have two pillows between us.”
Quit your job, become a dumpster diver, and wake up to find you’re suddenly living like a hedonist? Not what you’d expected from a career in trash picking, is it?
Calling all scavengers and extreme recyclers…
I’m almost out of submissions for dumpster show and tell, and I want to hear your stories. Take a look in your local dumpster. Take a look around your place. Then take some pictures of your dumpster booty, and send ‘em to nicolettekyle (at) yahoo (dot) com with some words about where and how you found the stuff in the picture and what you’re going to do with it. And for safety’s sake, better put “dumpster find of the week” in the subject line.
Tell me a little bit about yourself if you’d like (I’ll keep things as anonymous or blatant as you indicate I should). Tell me about your first time diving, your favorite dumpster, or anything else that seems appropriate at the time. I’ll take your emails and your photos and turn them into a blog post that will show up here, one each Wednesday until one of us stops caring.
Submitting your photos and words to me indicates that you have legal rights to said pictures and words, and that you are giving me legal permission to post your pictures and quote your words on Click Clack Gorilla. If you don’t hear back from me within a week, it means the internet ate your mail and you should try again.
So in the words of the esteemed Dolly Freed: “It’s feasible. It’s easy. It can be done. It should be done. Do it.” Go dumpster diving and come home to your favorite gorillas to brag about it.