I have the word duckin’ in the title of this blog simply because most of the homes in my area have their weekly trash pickups made behind the homes and not out front, as is done in many other areas. Hence, what I call duckin’ down alleys is also known as curb crawling.
I usually go duckin’ or curb crawlin’ right around sunset time. That gives the homeowners along my route all day to set items out for trash pickup the next morning. After it gets completely dark, it is not good to be seen moving slowly behind peoples’ homes and looking towards their backyards, or to be seen moving slowly in front of homes and looking towards the fronts of peoples’ properties. No one wants to see that kind of suspicious activity going on in their neighborhood.
Several times during my life, I have been going down the road feeling fine while casually motoring between some Sunday afternoon destinations with other things on my mind other than looking for piles of good stuff being thrown out when low and behold I spot a pile of good, usable items set out in front of a home.
Whether I am duckin’ down alleys or curb crawling or while I’m just out for a Sunday drive, and I stop to check out an opportunity to score some good items from a pile of stuff placed in front of or behind someone’s house where it is definitely there for the regular trash pickup, I feel slightly anxious while doing it.
When I am looking through the stuff for good items to take, I am always a bit fearful of being spotted by someone who sure as hell don't want no one digging through their personal trash. I also don't want to make eye contact with anyone looking out from inside a house, as this can break an invisible barrier that may be keeping them from hollering out at me. I only look down at what is in the pile of stuff, never at the houses around me. I check through it all very quickly, take what I want real fast, and make sure that the pile is left as neat as or neater than I found it.
The trickiest and scariest shit comes when I see pieces of aluminum or other recyclable metals or good fishing rods or something else that looks good sticking up out of garbage cans full of personal trash that may contain discarded mail, bank statements, S+M or other odd ball type porno or sexual devices, evidence of illegal activities, etc. in there that the home owner does not want anyone to see. They certainly don’t want me to be pulling out any embarrassing porno type items or evidence of illegal activities from where it had been hidden down in amongst other trash and secured inside of tightly closed trash bags or taped up cardboard boxes. Especially out there where any of their family members, neighbors, or any passersby could see it.
But when it is big, bulk type stuff that came from a spring cleanout or a home cleanout after a death in the family or after the house had just been sold then as long as you are not sloppy about it you should be all right. I have hit on two or three of these piles of goodies right after non-long-time-pro-dumpster-diving type individuals, who had just happened to drive by then stop when they had seen an easy obvious opportunity, had torn open trash bags and emptied out boxes, taken what they wanted then left the mess right out there next to a busy road on a sunny afternoon. I cleaned it all up and piled it back up neatly before I left.
When you are treasure hunting through trash and junk left out in front of or behind a home, you face the possibilities of having to deal with either the family members who live in the home, their friends who may happen to pull up to the scene as you are looking for good stuff, or neighbors who will sometimes check you out and ask what you are doing. They will probly be shocked to see you there and a bit pissed off about it—this is 99% guaranteed. When confronted by anyone at all, always smile sincerely and warmly, be ready to quickly return to your vehicle, act humble and grateful to find what you may have found, try to mention something about your dedication to reduce-reuse-recycling ideals, and if possible somehow throw some tid-bit about your solid status as a long time resident of the community into the conversation.
Just remembering the stress that I experience at times while going through piles of discarded items near homes and now writing about it is makin’ my chest feel a little tight and twanged inside. Doing this type of gatherin’ up of goodies is scary at times, but it is the right thing to do when you are politely saving something from a landfill and adding to your personal wealth.
david robert crews