Monday, January 16, 2006

Picking Scabs

Here's an anthropological experiment you can try at home. It's not quite as interesting as shacking up with a tribe of cannibals for six months, but it has its merits. And it's actually more an andropological experiment, because the behaviour involved is very much a male thing. The experiment goes like this:

Grab some junk, any junk, the more broken, sun-brittle and smelly the better. Put it on your nature strip. Wait twenty minutes. Soon, they will arrive. Observe.

By they I mean of course the hard rubbish scabs, attracted by the pheremones released by the blistered plastic and rotting wood of massed suburban detritus. You'll recognise them by a) the hungry look in their eyes; b) their beaten-up old cars; and c) the fact that they are standing on your nature strip examining the scorched shell of your old Atari with preternatural enthusiasm. Watching these consumer-item-ghouls is fascinating, and instructive. For one thing, you'll learn that nutters don't only come out at night.

Distantly related to garage sale obsessives and swap meet desperadoes, hard rubbish scabs are nonetheless a breed apart, placed on earth to get something for nothing, even if that something is eighteen years old, completely knackered, and never worked in the first place. Other people's trash is their... well, trash, and they'll grab what they can, when they can, regardless of actual value. I mentioned their hungry eyes: you notice them as soon as they swing into your street, cruising at kidnapper speed, their wide, blood-shot eyes scanning the nature strips. These are desperate men: junkies. If you must put out hard rubbish, I suggest you do it during daylight hours, and never alone. You never know when a scab is going to turn up and steal all that stuff you don't want anymore.

Perhaps it is due to the pleasant weather, but the scabs are out in force this hard rubbish season. You can't turn a corner in my neighbourhood without confronting several middle-aged ute owners, poring over the discarded furniture and knick-knacks on display. This afternoon, I put an old electric guitar on our pile, and watched as it was enthusiastically snapped up within ten minutes by a guy who looked the type to take it home and play the chorus lick from "Sultans of Swing" before going out to murder young children. In fact, I'm having a hard time maintaining a genuine rubbish pile on the nature strip. No sooner is the stuff dragged out there than somebody is winching it into the back of the Landcruiser. The question is: what the fuck are they doing with it all? Feeding it to their ugly dogs? (Ugly-dog-ownership being another characteristic of the hard rubbish scab.) I suspect the stuff hangs around their backyards and spare rooms for a couple of years, before being put out for hard rubbish collection. And so the cycle of life continues.


Le Driver said...

You put an electric guitar on the pile?



Some items must never enter the realm of hard-rubbish!

Tim said...

Trust me, it was knackered. I used to be quite the guitar smasher/dropper in my day.

JPW said...

We've furnished at least 25% of our home using shit we've picked up off the sidewalk - don't be a playa-hater! I've got possibly *the best* office desk in the world, and we scored two purple leather armchairs, and also other stuff. Oh, and Ikea delivered a great big $600 entertainment cabinet to us by mistake and never came to get it back, so we might as well have nicked that as well.

Lucy Tartan said...

Have you even looked at my blog lately?

Tim said...

Yeah, but you're not a professional hard rubbish scab. The ones I'm talking about do it all day every day. They follow the hard rubbish collections around town like a pack of groupies. They are sick, sick men. Men like James P. Wall!

Rex said...

I put a completely knackered kettle BBQ on the pile, with rusted out gas jets. Within an hour there was a knock on the door, and they were asking were we really intending to throw out such a useful thing. I helpfully explained that, no, that's where we like to store our BBQ because we've got no room out the back.
That explanation seemed to satisfy them, and they went away.

It was stolen some time later by some other thieving bastards.