Roadside Rubbish

For nigh on two decades I’ve had a (probably unhealthy) fascination with the stuff that winds up on the side of roads – on the shoulder, in the ditch, in the woods next to the road, whatever. I’m not necessarily talking about garbage, as such, though there certainly is a fair amount of dumping going on – over the years, walking around, I’ve found cash, knives (including a quite nice Spyderco folding knife, once), books, cassette tapes, compact discs… a wristwatch, once. Clothing, quite often, actually. (I generally don’t take any of this stuff – money, the occasional undamaged book, and the knife being notable exceptions.) Roadkill, which is to be expected, and unopened, packaged groceries, which isn’t Cellphones. Sunglasses. Prescription sunglasses, even. Ammunition, and spent shell casings. It’s enough to really make you wonder…

I mean, what’s with all the clothes on the sides of highways? Though I’ve never, personally, had the urge to take my clothes off in a moving vehicle and chuck them out the window, I can sort of appreciate that others might be inclined to do so now and again. Yet, the clothes I come across are never the sorts I can concoct plausible scenarios for – cubicle-denizens, for example, throwing their neck-ties, or even their dress shirts, out the window on a Friday afternoon, en route to an evening of hedonistic excess. Or an amorous couple (or threesome, foursome, or moresome) after a nice night out on the town, say, impatient to get out of their clothes, damn the consequences. In a nutshell, I, at least, never come across nice clothes – just ratty jeans, t-shirts with unfunny slogans, filthy sneakers, and the like. This leads me to wonder just how these clothes get here in the first place. If they were deposited accidentally – driving to the laundromat, whoops, didn’t notice the windows were down, or helping my buddy move, hey, didn’t realize there were still clothes in the dresser in the back of my pick-up – you’d sort of think there’d be some nicer stuff in the mix. How to explain the lack of dress shirts, blouses, skirts, et cetera? Maybe there’s a league of surprisingly fastidious homeless people out there who grab the nicer stuff, but turn their noses up at casual attire and synthetic fabrics? I don’t know, but it’s as good an answer as any, I guess…

One of the most interesting parts of all the – let’s face it, crap – you come across on the sides of roads is how out-of-context so much of it is. There’s something strangely poignant about a love-note, floating in a puddle on the side of a road; pages on the sidewalk, torn loose from a book, hold a strange fascination. Every weird little artifact is sort of like a miniature episode of CSI – lots of questions and few answers, but no convenient plot twists, helpful and friendly savants, or gorgeous women, alas.

The other day, I was walking down a street, and came across a little sliver of a broken CD lying on the pavement. I don’t know what the CD was, save that the little piece of plastic says “limited edition”. Yeah, well, I thought to myself, whatever it was, there’s one less of ’em now, I guess…

One person’s trash might not always be another’s treasure, but it can at least serve as the impetus for introspection and navel-gazing, I guess. 🙂

Published in: General | on August 7th, 2008| Comments Off on Roadside Rubbish

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