Kerbside Pickup


The office chairs look miserable. Their gas has gone. They’ve let their owners down, and they’ve been carted out here and left on the kerbside in the rain.


First thing in the morning come utes and trucks, driving slowly down every street, studying the piles of junk. They pick up all sorts of things: furniture, steel, building materials, fridges, swing sets.

During the day, the occasional car drives past, does a u-turn and comes back for a closer look. A woman gets out and glances around to see if anyone is watching, grabs a lamp stand, stows it in the boot and drives off.

It’s a popular neighbourhood sport, checking out the piles of stuff. If you see something you like, you’d better grab it. The good stuff goes fast.

No one takes the office chairs.

At night, people come with torches and go through the piles secretively, as though they’re doing something shameful. In fact, they’re taking part in a recycling activity that is both useful and entertaining.

Someone came by night to my kerbside pile and added their own rubbish to mine. What was that about? I don’t want their broken gym equipment and bags of old clothes mixing with my nice collection of discarded doors, broken fans and plant pots.

Not many huge, old-style television sets this year, for a change. Everyone must have finished upgrading to flat screen.

Barbecues, broken plastic toys, cardboard boxes.  Most hopeless are the worn-out mattresses and dodgy-looking couches. No one ever takes them up. Not even by stealth, in the dead of night.



Along with the office chairs, they wait in the rain for the garbage truck.

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