Twenty-five years of accumulated household stuff has a way of overwhelming a modest home.
Tons of read – and unread – books, Scrabble games with missing tiles (but somehow with a full complement of Qs, Xs, and Zs), Monopoly games with a shortage of cash rivaling an Athens ATM, and toys long-since abandoned for lipstick, prom dresses, running shoes, and jewelry.
So this past week, a huge dumpster for hire was placed strategically in our driveway.
Day after day, each of us took turns purging, releasing, moving on.
Just a few memories salvaged. Some yellowed photos here, some school awards there. The rest, as they say, is history.
Then he showed up.
On a bike much too small for him. A twenty or thirty-something neighbor who spoke no English. When I first noticed him inside the dumpster, he cowered. Would I yell at him? Demand that he get out right this minute?
Hell, I don’t want to get sued if he gets injured (I know how these things work).
But then I noticed what he was pulling out and setting aside. Toys – toys still fit for some little girl. And clothes perhaps for that same child, clothes that have seen better days. And pens and scrap paper, still a bit usable.
All I could manage to say was “Be careful” – which I imagined that he understood.
He smiled. And continued rummaging.
Over the next couple of days, he returned, looking for some new discarded treasure. Each of us saw him. Each of us told him to be careful. Each time he waved and smiled at us. Each time we waved and smiled back.
This morning I noticed it.
A very bulky, very heavy, very greasy carpet that had been pulled up from the garage and placed next to the dumpster – one that was too heavy for me (or any of us) to lift in one piece, one that was awaiting more than a few minutes of my time to chop it into little swatches – was somehow neatly placed inside, all in one piece.
We know who did it.
Sometime during the night.
As my wife said: Friendship is a two way street.
It sure is.
And so is kindness.
In that discarded debris, our visitor and we found something that we all highly valued.
And it sure wasn’t the stuff.
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