Yes, I Went Dumpster Diving

One good thing about the COVID-19 quarantine: A lot of us have been cleaning out closets. I’ve already made two trips to Goodwill and still have a growing stack of items ready for my next excursion. There are two wool “car” coats, a piece of art I won at an art fair, my artificial Christmas tree, and my “reacher” tool.

Do you know what a “reacher” tool is?

It is part of the paraphernalia I acquired for my knee surgery recovery. I still have my walker and cane, but the ice machine bit the dust a while ago after I lent it out several times to other knee patients. Some patients used a device to aid in putting on socks, but I never got one of those. The “reacher” is a device to pick items up off the floor without bending down. Honestly, I hardly used it, so that’s why it is in the Goodwill pile.

Then I ran into my neighbor, Donna, in the hall of our apartment complex. She seemed quite distraught.

“Oh, Nancy, what should I do? I took my recycling down to the dumpster, and I threw my keys in with the recycling! Should I call the emergency weekend number? If I call my son, he will be so disgusted with me!”

Immediately, I thought of the “reacher.”

“Do you have a “reacher” tool?” I asked her. She didn’t. Well, I knew right where to find mine―on the Goodwill pile.

I grabbed my eight-inch step stool, too; the one the grandkids used to brush their teeth, when they slept over at Grandma’s. Now they are taller than I am.

Donna and I headed to the dumpster area, tools in tow. She was frantic.

“My car keys are in there, my mailbox key. I am so upset.”

We got to the dumpster and I set my stool next to it. Donna is under five feet tall, so I have several inches on her. I stood on the stool and peered into the dumpster, which was only one-third full, thank goodness.

“I threw the keys in that left corner,” Donna pointed.

My eyes felt assaulted by plastic water bottles, junk mail, cereal boxes, pizza boxes, cans of “cocktail peaches,” soda cans, milk cartons, etc. Was that a Korbel brandy bottle? Of course, this is Wisconsin. How would I ever spot keys in this mess? But then I saw something shining―I could see them!

They were right there! And here is where the humiliating part happened. Even though I could see them, it wasn’t easy to “grab” them. My first touch with the tool sent the keys slithering further down into the abyss. They were gone. How embarrassing to be trying to help and then make things worse.

Carefully, I opened the pincers on the “reacher” tool and moved a few items away from the spot where the keys were last seen. I wondered what my kids would think if they could see their gray-haired mother "diving" into a dumpster. Then, there they were again! I was super careful as I pinched them and brought them up in the air and over to Donna.

You know that elation when you find your keys, and that was just how Donna felt. We were both so relieved.

I decided the “reacher” earned its keep. It’s off the Goodwill pile now.

How about you? Have you given something away and then wished you still had it? How is your “cleaning out” going? Or, have you lost your keys lately?

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© 2015 by Nancy Runner, Writer. All rights reserved

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