15 September 2005

The Town Dump

There is an interesting phenomenon in Maine known as Going to the Dump. I've lived many places around the country, and nowhere but Maine have I found this phenomenon. When we first came here, we were a bit taken aback that there was no city garbage pick-up in our small town here in Maine. We were used to putting our rubbish out on the curb at no charge, watching it be picked up and whisked away to God knows where. We didn't know or care where it went as long as it was off our curb by the end of the day.

In Maine we found out that it's a social event to go to the dump. When I first heard this I envisioned dragging our large, stinky, cat-litter-filled garbage bag up onto a smelly, stinky trash pile and dumping it there. I imagined probably slipping on banana peels and old diapers. The thought sickened me. So we found a company to pay that would come pick up our garbage off the curb and take it away, just like we preferred.

But over the years, I continued to hear about the dump. I know a homeschooling family who found an entire set of 1960s encyclopedias at the dump. Had they rummaged through the rotten fruit to find them? I knew another family who found an old baby stroller and a ping-pong table. I was intrigued, but still wary.

Finally, in an effort to save money, we decided to take the plunge and visit the dump ourselves. A friendly neighbor took me for my first dump visit and she showed me around, telling me what went where and how the whole thing works. I went envisioning the proverbial trash pile, but what I found amazed me. It was mid-summer, a warm day, but there was no stink. The recycling center was clean and well organized and the trash bags were simply thrown through a door into a large, concrete refuse pit. The people working there were friendly and helpful, as all Mainers are.

Soon after that, we made our first trip to the dump. We took all our garbage and recyclables and it was actually a fun experience. And the best part - my daughters found an old foosball table, which we promptly took home. Now they can't wait to go back. And now I feel like a true Mainer. :)

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