When I volunteered to help my sister finish with cleaning out her home in order to rent it, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn't that the house was filthy or in wretched state of disrepair. No, quite the opposite. In fact everything was going along really nicely with finishing those last little bits of cleaning and repairs here and there UNTIL we made that flippant and, looking back now, foolish decision to drop off a few bags of garbage at the dump. We could've just waited; she could've just driven over the evening before garbage day to set the bags out by the curb, but no. Feeling a bit too overly eager, we decided to just get the job done straight away by driving it to the dump.
Really we weren't even going to the dump, but rather to a transfer station. It was right up the road; couldn't have been more than a ten minute drive. . simple, right? Wrong. . . dead wrong. I'd never been to a dump or a transfer station until last Tuesday, but I totally underestimated the entire situation. Completely. I was not mentally, physically, or emotionally prepared for what I was about to experience. My husband, who had also been helping with the final repair and clean up of my sister's house gave me no warning either. Having previously owned a property care business, he had plenty of experience in making drop offs at the dump. Since he had visited such places as this so regularly, I assumed it would be no big deal (and you know what they say about people who assume, right?) and he didn't indicate otherwise.
We loaded our dad's truck which we had borrowed for the day with anything we could find that should be disposed of: old blinds, garbage, scraps of laminate etc. The drive was brief and entirely uneventful. As we pulled into the station where you show your ID or pay, we decided it was best to just turn off the diesel truck as it was so loud we couldn't hear what the attendant was saying to us. We provided the necessary info and then proceeded to follow her directions up some ramp. . except - we had to turn the truck back on again first. . .this meant waiting for the allotted warm up period for diesels. . . all the while garbage trucks and recycling trucks were passing us, and we were beginning to feel just a bit out of place (at least we weren't driving my sister's Prius.)
The truck finally started and we turned onto the ramp. The ramp. How weird is that? It's not like we were merging onto an overpass or something; no, we were simply entering the ginormous warehouse-looking transfer station. Feeling somewhat awkward and strangely nervous, we sat in line waiting for our turn. At the front of the line we observed MOUNTAINS of . . . poo. Really, it could've just been actual poo; that's how bad it stunk at least (and that was before we rolled down the window). We watched as garbage trucks backed in and added to the mess followed by some huge nasty floor sweeping machine that swept the sludge and garbage more closely towards the mountains.
When the attendant at the top of the ramp noticed us sitting there awkwardly, he approached *laughing* (maybe he sensed our state of shock and awe) and told us where we could "back the truck in" when he gave the cue. The cue came quickly and let me just say there was no backing in; neither my sister or I had any interest in trying to get as close as possible to the garbage heap so as to avoid spreading the mess any further. No, sorry; they would just need to come through with the nasty sweeper machine after us and push all of our garbage into the rest of the collective heap.
Feeling pressured to be quick (given the line of commercial vehicles waiting at the doorway of the elevated warehouse) we both jumped out as soon as the truck was parked. I had only two scant days previously treated myself to a pedicure, and here I was wearing my flip flops inside the most repulsive place on the planet. A thick coat of grime and sludge and gunk made the floor very slick. My sister and I both separately envisioned our utter demise should a wrong step be made. I walked carefully towards the back of the truck, but was forced to stop when I came to a deeper segment of muddy sewage. I decided instead to try to reach over the side of the truck to grab whatever I could and then, using my brute She-ra type strength, thrust the debris as close to the mountain as possible. My poor sister; this meant that she was left doing most of the work and traversing through all the gore beneath our feet. At one point, I managed to get a hold of some sliding door blinds and was able to use my amazing javelin throwing abilities to pitch the whole thing approximately six inches from my feet. To say that we were completely out of our element is easily the understatement of the century; not that anyone could be in their element there, but clearly others there we less horrified and more prepared for the repugnance of the transfer station than we were. I actually noted the garbage truck drivers and even the attendant within the transfer station laughing maniacally at us; these weren't little chuckles either. These were out and out making-fun-of, sincere belly laughs kind of laughs. . .
When the debris in the back of the truck was unloaded we both eagerly climbed into the cab of the truck to prepare for our hasty departure. I carefully removed my flip flops at the far side of the floor by the door so as to detach the most highly contaminated portion of attire from my being. My sister had no choice (with sneakers on and the rush to leave) aside from simply getting in and driving. Of course, there was the issue again of having to wait for the the diesel engine to be ready for us to drive after turning the key. . . . How can a few short seconds seem so painfully long? When the light finally went off and we were free to leave, my sister managed to sort of peel out (which isn't a difficult thing to do given the scum on the floor). We then both commenced noting the feeling of numbness in our appendages which *may* have made contact with ANYthing in the facility. Surely it was all bio-hazard-sludge-acid that would likely give us a quick and severe case of leprosy.
The next stop on our list of errands was Home Depot. Climbing out of the truck in the parking lot, we were surprised and disgusted to see the *mud* (if only it was just mud. . just plain old dirt mud. . but we knew better) spattered across the side of the truck. Not anticipating the smell of the dump following us around, I was fully unprepared for the scent that greeted my nostrils as I walked away from the truck, and I'm not joking: I gagged. . I nearly vomited at the smell of the truck. We weren't even at the dump and the smell on the outside of the truck was still that strong. As we walked in, we both noted that the other smelled like a dump, so we chose to head strait to the bathroom to wash our shoes and feet and hands with soap. I felt a bit like what I imagine a homeless person might feel like with a one foot and then the other sudsied up in a public restroom sink. Still, it made a huge difference in our odor to simply wash our shoes and feet. Later we took the truck to a car wash which helped some but did not completely eliminate the odor that lingered over us and the truck for the remainder of the day.
I have never in my life experienced such abhorrent filth. I didn't know a place that horrific existed in our state. As amazing as it sounds, that was just one of many transfer stations where garbage is collected before it's driven out to the real dump - which I'm presuming is far bigger and grosser on many levels. I have a new found respect for garbage collectors; that is some nasty work, and I'm really glad I don't have to do anything like that every week. I asked my husband about not warning us of the horrors of the transfer station, and his response was basically that he thought we'd been before and knew what to expect. Um, ya - NO; that will never be happening again. The experience has made me surprisingly conscientious of how much garbage our household produces, and also eager to implement more recycling and reusing. And it's definitely high time biodegradable materials were implemented into every possible consumer product made.
I'll leave with this final and parting thought on garbage collection sites in general: Yuck-o.