Saturday, May 03, 2008

My big day at the dump

Today is hazardous waste amnesty day at the dump. I have been meaning to attend this event for years, but have never been able to get my act together. Until today. Yesterday I hired my nine year old to take all the old paint cans out of the basement and carry them to the car. There were many, many cans of paint, most of them left behind by the previous owners of our house. The Rivanna solid waste authority website advises of a 25 gallon limit on paint, so I had to leave two cans behind.

The website also advised, that although the event begins at 9:00am, the line up of cars can start at 8:30. This was worrisome news, and I envisioned route 637 backed up for miles. I contemplated the 25 gallons of paint stacked in the back of my car, and realized that to return them to the basement was unthinkable. I packed a book to read while waiting, and my personal property tax bill in case they required proof of address and off I went.

The whole experience turned out to be easy, pleasant even. Route 637 was not backed up with dump-bound cars, I did not have to wait more than five minutes to unload my paint, and nobody demanded proof of residency in C'ville/Albemarle. A friendly man with a clipboard asked me where I lived, and I told him, and that was that. They have a pretty efficient set-up and things were moving along well, or at least they were at 9:30, when I got there. And now I am free of a whole pile of old paint that has been troubling me for a long time.

My previous experiences with dumps have not always been so nice. When we were getting ready to move from Buffalo to Charlottesville, I had a whole lot of stuff to dump. My brother told me about the dump on Bird Island and he even agreed to go with me. Bird Island was conveniently located about ten minutes from my house, so I loaded the back of my Volvo 240 wagon with, among other things, a large hard plastic wading pool, and we set off over the scary drawbridge to the dump, which was a noisy, dirty, industrial, confusing place seething with dump trucks.

I noticed that the trucks--I was the only car--had to drive onto a large scale before dumping their loads, and it was the sort of scale that you had to align your wheels with two tracks and the whole thing looked impossible. I think they expected you to back onto the scale, or it was balanced out over the water or something because I remember feeling very intimidated by it.

(Scary drawbridge which allows passage of lake barges through the canal. When I did crew, we would sometimes row right alongside these barges.)

I parked and approached a small hut where I hoped I could find some information, or someone who would tell me that cars were exempt from the scale. The hut was attended by a skinny rat-faced woman with hair slicked back into a trash pony tail, and who looked like she'd lived on a diet of cigarettes and twinkies her whole entire life. Before I'd even opened my mouth she growled, "Ya gotta have CASH." Cash? Really? My research had told me that Buffalo citizens could dump their trash for free, and as young and inexperienced as I was at that time, I knew very well that any cash I gave her would go straight into her grubby pocket. And anyway, I didn't have any cash.

So we left, my brother reassuring me that he knew of another dump where our Uncle Tom brought stuff all the time and they never demanded cash. This dump was in South Buffalo, a bit of a drive, but it is the territory of the Irish, and so, likely to be more welcoming. Sure enough, this dump was attended by a friendly Irishman whose office was a dump truck. I didn't have to drive onto a scale, was allowed to shove the plastic wading pool and the crib mattress, and God knows what else I had that day, willy nilly onto the ground and a backhoe came and took it away. And he didn't demand cash.


  1. *slapping my hand against my forehead*

    I can't believe I forgot about this. And of course I have paint I want to get rid of.


  2. Oh well. Mark your calendar for October. I think that's when the have the next one.

  3. I forgot, too. Rather, I've been thinking, "Next Amnesty day, I'm going to get rid of all those creepy bags of lawn chemicals and gallons of paint that came with the house. I should look up the date and mark it on my calendar."

    Yeah. I should do that.

  4. Funny how so many of us have chemicals that came with our houses. This was our first house and we were so grateful that they'd accepted our offer, we didn't dare ask that they clear their junk out of the basement.