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binder setup teaser

It was one of those cookie-cutter condo complexes in strip-mall-land near Anytown where no one there plans on staying forever. No one finishes a walkthrough or even a driveby with the thought, “This looks like a place where I could settle down and grow old.” The kind of place where people move on after a year or two having never learned the names of their neighbors. It looked like the man had just moved in.

His kids wandered around as if they weren’t familiar with their surroundings. As his three young children hovered nervously near the door of the garage, the client explained to me that most of the pile he wanted us to remove was empty space – “boxes and stuff from moving” he said. As Flores and I worked, the three kids seemed more bewildered by our activities than kids usually are. Almost as if they were scared of what we might be taking away among the pile of cardboard and styrofoam in the garage. At one point the man’s daughter came up and grabbed his leg and said, “Daddy, what are they doing?” “They’re taking all this garbage away,” he answered.

When we got back in the truck and started to drive off, Flores surprised me with something that had fallen out of a box he picked up. The two binders confirmed what we’d sensed about the man’s new living situation. They were from one of those couples therapy group seminars designed to save failing marriages, full of embarrassingly gendered lists of relationship pitfalls and references to things like “Dialogue Wheels”. One binder was his, and the other was hers. We could tell immediately from the handwriting, since some of the exercise worksheets had been filled out. As Flores read aloud on our way home at the end of the day, I was utterly amazed. I hope you will be too, when his full writeup is posted here soon.

NOTE: I wrote this two years ago. Flores moved away and lost these binders in the move, apparently. He promised to find them and send them to me, and if he ever does, I’ll post it here.

bed bug mattresses


This is the message the maintenance staff had written on the dozens of mattresses that outgoing tenants had left by the dumpsters of their apartment complex.  Apparently they have a problem every year with new tenants taking the mattresses they see lying there and then complaining to management about bed bugs a few weeks later.  So they hired us to take them away as soon as possible.  Not soon enough though to prevent my partner Flores from seeing a few things crawling on his shirt and all the rest of us getting the heebie-jeebies.  But it does suggest a nice new tagline – Haulers: we pick up things that say “don’t pick up.”

Pornface #15


out with a whimper

In anticipation of the official retirement of Hauling Secrets, over the next few days I’m going to publish a bunch of posts that have been sitting in my Drafts pile for a long time.  Little, trivial things that I never got around to publishing.  Maybe this flurry of activity will get the attention of anyone who still has this blog in their RSS and incite some comments.  If not, it won’t matter, since the last few posts have zero comments anyway.

To put it simply, I’ve gotten busy with other things besides hauling.  Since I’m still trying to keep this blog anonymous, I won’t say what exactly.  But it’s been obvious to readers of this blog that it’s been dead for a while now.  Posts got less and less frequent, and less and less interesting, as I lost the time and the energy to update it.  It didn’t help that all my original collaborating haulers either moved away or got fired.

But I’m going to keep this blog up as an archive of my hauling days. And keep in your RSS, because if I ever get back to full-time hauling, I’ll certainly return here and share my experiences with you, dear readers.  Thank you all for reading and commenting.

The other day I saw this little display someone had made on the counter at the scrapyard.  I thought it was an amusing response to Anystate’s recent ban on the practice of using bait to attract deer.

Trying not to be seen, since scrapyard and landfill operators usually don’t allow photographs of their operations, I took out my phone as I journeyed up the side of the landfill on a nice sunny day and captured these shots:






Sorry, that’s my finger in the last one.  From the top of this mountain of trash, on a clear day, you can see the next city 40 miles away.

Pornface #14


deja-vu re-enactment

The other day, Handyman and I had a no-show at this client’s house and no one answered any of the phone numbers we had, so we left a note on the front door (as we tend to do, saying “Sorry we missed you, call ###-#### if you still need your junk removed” or something like that) and headed to our next job.  Just before we got back on the freeway, the client finally called and told us we had the wrong address.  So we turned back around and headed back to where we just were.  The place where we turned around was exactly where we had gotten off the freeway to begin our route to the client’s house, and we got stopped by the first light we came to in exactly the same position in the left-turn lane.  As we crept to a halt, I said “Whoa, deja vu.” Though stupid, this was supposed to be somewhat of a joke, since it was obvious that we had just been there fifteen minutes earlier.  But it was also intended simply to note the coincidence of our being stopped at the same exact place as before.  Handyman gave an obligatory chuckle.  Then, for a moment, we imagined out loud a sort of Groundhog-Day like scenario where we had to relive the same moment again and again.  The light turned green, and as we rounded out the turn, a new game was born.

Credit goes to Handyman for inventing this magical game.  See, there was this bowling alley just past the light where we’d stopped.  The first time around, Handyman had noticed the new paint job and said “Whoa, they painted the bowling alley!”  I noticed that some of the signage was still orange and black, the official colors of the local High School.  “Used to be school colors?” I asked.  “Yep,” Handyman replied, “Town pride or whatever.”

Well, the second time around, Mark noticed the bowling alley again. As a joke, after our deja-vu conversation, he said: “Whoa, they painted the bowling alley!”  I waited for a second, then responded: “Used to be official school colors?”  Another pause, then he: “Yep. Town pride or whatever.”

The rest of the way down the road, we did an almost word-for-word re-enactment of our first trip from the stop light to the client’s house.  Our memories were aided by the successive reappearance on the side of the road of each of the landmarks that sparked our original conversations: the bowling alley, a car dealership, an overpass.  At first it was amusing.  Then hilarious.  Then it got creepy. Handyman laughed that half-fake kind of laugh that serves to terminate a joke, as if to say, “okay, that joke was funny, but now it’s gotten awkward and I don’t want to continue with it”.  But I wasn’t about to let such an interesting experiment end.  And it was a fun test of our memories to see if we could keep it going all the way back to the client’s street.  So I pushed it further, and Handyman responded with impressive powers of recollection.

And what was interesting about this game was inextricable from its creepiness, awkwardness.  That sense of being removed from the self you were fifteen minutes ago and having to act out what only then were genuine thoughts, feelings, conversations.  Now they seemed contrived, foreign, robotic.  The person who’d said the things I’d said seemed more than fifteen minutes less experienced than I was now.  That little bit of distance was enough to observe the silly pragmatics of our conversations, the turn-taking and the starts and stops, and make it seem as if the first time around was just as much a charade as the second.  What we had thought were a few real moments of our lives, now seemed empty and formulaic, and not at all how we’d remembered. And even after the short passing of only fifteen minutes, no true reliving could ever occur. We were already lifetimes away from the persons we used to be. To feel it was a kind of ecstasy, a being out-of-body.  This game was strange and terrible, and I couldn’t resist it.

Or at least that’s how I felt, if only for a fifteen minutes, before we arrived at the house and had to get out of the truck to greet the waiting client and do our job.  Thanks, Handyman, for summoning the spirit of my old gaming partner The Edge and playing along for such a long time.

real crash-test-dummy boy

Handyman and I loaded a truck full of car seats from a testing agency’s storage unit and came across this little crash-test-dummy child:

The creepy thing is that they make real crash-test-dummies to be about the same weight as a normal person would be, so that when I picked this one up, it felt like I was picking up a real boy.  A real boy in two pieces.


Yes, that is – was – a large bag full of shit, and yes, that is my tire tread that went right through the middle of it.  How did so much shit get stuffed into a shopping bag?  Your guess is as good as mine.
Sometimes I think I should just never look down towards the floor at the MRF.  I don’t want to know what’s there.  Thenagain, I don’t want to step in it either.

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