Red Chair

This is a red chair. When I worked at the U-Stor-It facility in 2003, I brought all kinds of stuff home. The red chair is the best of it. Outlasted and gone are the industrial storage tubes and the standup piano (sorry about that, Kate) and the dresser of deal.

Although it’s obvious, I feel compelled to mention that any given household needs, most likely, only about a thousand ballpoint pens with name-brand drug logos etched on the barrels. Same goes for drug company sticky-notes.


Recycling is not something that I started out with. I was a regular person. I thought that dumpsters and trash cans were a one-way street. Trash goes in. Forgetting happens. That’s all.

Andres Hammerman, known snow fort architect, and a suspcious conspirator.

Andres Hammerman, known snow fort architect, and a suspcious conspirator.

Right, so that changed, but I am not a recycling crusader. I have met them, the crusaders, I don’t love the earth quite so much and I never got arrested for building a snow fort in protest of Reagan’s nuclear policy. I got no street cred. I am not interesting, in the literary or FBI sense of the word. However, you don’t need to be a crusader to get creeped out by creepy stuff. Downright creepy the stuff that people think should be thrown away in the dumpster.

A dumpster is a beacon for failure. It beeps for you. Stay away. That’s a beep of warning — the corner case, the nexus, the place you go at the end of your bad decisions. Kids these days. Society at large, them too. Those guys make really weird decisions about what to throw away.

The most effective recycling I ever did was dumpster based. I waded into the dumpster and pulled stuff out. It’s simple, direct and super-obvious, the whole damn world of stuff junked inside the dumpster. Gobs and gobs of the wide world, waiting, landfill-bound, still striving to be alive, and not, sooth, succumbed to the earth. It didn’t want to be junk. But I worked at a temporary storage lot. And the heart of a temporary storage patron is vicious.

Temporary storage: the lack of time, the lack of will, the frantic and tedious errands of soul-death. It all conspires to put too much perfectly half-good stuff in the dumpster. The state of the items is usually not the primary driver. Here, I’m gonna repeat myself some more. The state-of-being of the items in the dumpster is not, usually, the reason theose things are in the dumpster. It took me a long while to get over that assumption, “Jeepers, if they threw it a way, they probably had a good reason.” No. No they didn’t.

Now, a word of warning. Beware. Dumpsters adhere to ancestral law.

This one time I watched a fight between an A-list bleach blonde pencil-skirt drug rep, and a Vietnamese homeless guy. Here’s the issue — if you throw something in a dumpster, and then hours later you decide you want it back, should the homeless guy who claimed his dumpster prize just… hand it over? The answer is “no.”

But sure, she’s a drug rep. Here’s the rub. Drug reps are the West Nile mosquitoes of intellectual property bullshit. So it’s hardly suprising that Bleachy Pencil Skirt took umbrage. I disagreed with the conculsion of Madame Good A-listers on just about every point of Supposedly Intellectual So-Called Property. On this point too, vis-a-vis the dumpster, we just couldn’t meet. And thereby we went to the office. She waged a long hour of harrangue at getting me fired.

All of this, the disagreement on property rights, the resulting hullabaloo in the office, I could see coming in the blink of an eye. We all could. The homeless guy Vinh, he saw. The A-lister herself must have known, sneering and ripping stuff from the homeless guy’s grip (trying to, anyway) and me focused on not smirking or folding my arms or winking in Vietnamese or betraying that I, too, knew the score. Homeless: 1. Horrible bitches: 0. To the very inchy brink of plausible deniability, I, betraying my giddy glee, and nary a breath more, abided the ruckus.

Truth be told I sided with the homeless guy because I had to deal with him on a daily basis, and he could hold a serious grudge. And also because I knew that my decision would lead to extended A-Lister protestation gymnastics in the Front Office. Here we go. Spectactle of complaint, during which I did not have to sweep or mop or fix anything, but could just sit in the air-conditioned fluorescence and listen as if anybody cared what the drug rep was saying. It worked. Dumpster politics are solid on this point – when you throw crap away, you throw away ALL MORAL CLAIMS.

Back to the red chair. It is comfortable and good. I waited years for it to betray the REASON that somebody threw it away. But it has not moldered or grown decrepit. And further, the most remarkable feature of the red chair is that its surface is unpleasant for cat-scratching.

Our little darling 39 has done an evil number on the yurt bag, and the purple chair (Sorry about that, Lee) and even the fabric basket that holds Sarah’s t-shirts and, often, the cat herself, when she’s not scratching. These furnitures have suffered. One time I caught 39 getting her claws into the side of the red chair. I shouted, and pursued some more dramatics just on principle. And that was the last time she tried to scratch it. I cannot think that it was just my spastic rage that dissuades her from further scratching. We just agree that the red chair should remain whole.

Cat just barfed on the carpet. Did she know I was talking about her?

One thought on “Red Chair

  1. Jodie

    I lOVED reading this, very witty! Also, love that chair and yes I’m not a nazi recyclist like one of my friends, but she does inspire me and I do enjoy a good lifeline bargain.


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