My last post, about saving worms from the sidewalk, reminded me of another habit I have that tends to gross people out. I call myself a Picker-Upper. If I see something lying on the ground, or generally discarded, that appears salvageable I like to go get it or at least investigate. I don’t understand why some people find this odd. Just because something’s on the ground doesn’t mean it’s been thrown away. It could be accidentally dropped or even lost with the potential of finding its owner. Although I will admit that for most random items I operate under the Finder’s Keepers, Loser’s Weepers policy.
“It’s not like I’m picking up trash!” I exclaim to my boyfriend each time this topic comes up.
“Well that depends on your definition of trash”, he replies. “And mine just happens to be things that are on the ground”.
Last winter there was something lying in the middle of our snowy street and when I drove by I couldn’t figure out what it was. I decided to walk down there to investigate. He went with me although he really didn’t want to and was completely horrified when I called out with glee “Awesome, it’s a pink shopping bag!” and snatched it up to take it home. The next day I showed my co-workers my sweet find, expecting some overdue praise but instead they were also disgusted. “Did you even wash that?” Yes, I did but it’s just a bag and it’s in perfectly decent shape. It would be wasteful to throw it out. I still use the bag often and my boyfriend always refers to it as “your trash bag”.
I honestly don’t pick up trash (I’m really grossed out by wet paper so that’s a major deterrent anyway) but I will pick up an envelope or something that looks like it could be relevant. Once I found $40 cash in an unmarked envelope along a busy street, I’ve also found a few small bills on the ground in parking lots. I don’t think of myself as a thief. I always look around to see if someone looks like they’ve lost something. I’ve found wallets in parking lots as well and I always turn those in at the store. I don’t pick up really dirty things or one shoe or anything like that. I do occasionally check discarded boxes because I’m afraid there might be abandoned kittens inside.
I’m also a big fan of yard sales, which probably doesn’t come as a surprise. What if the greatest thing I’ve ever wanted is for sale in someone’s garage for $1 and I miss it? Plus, I love books and those are always cheap at yard sales. I also love the fact that everything has a story and now someone is passing their things and stories on so that I can give them new ones. I know that sounds corny but here’s a good example: I love elephants and collect elephant things. Last summer I went to a garage sale where an elderly woman had a few elephant knick-knacks so I bought them. She told me she has a large collection but is trying to minimize because she’s getting older. I told her I love and collect elephants (and even showed her my elephant tattoo) and she went into her house and got some more and just gave them to me. She told me the story behind each one and said she wanted someone to have them that would appreciate them. That’s cool.
I guess I’m trying to tie that in to justify picking up stuff from the ground and I know it’s a stretch but it all comes back to believing everything has a purpose and not wanting to be wasteful. So the next time you see a random hat or box along the road, you can wonder what its story is. And make sure you check for kittens.