How to find a home for an ugly lamp

Our town has accidentally discovered a wonderful means of helping people get rid of their junk without overburdening the local landfill. The city allows residents one week to get their unwanted junk out on the curb, and then hauls it off to the dump at no charge. Actually, though, there's never very much for them to take away.

The success of the plan hinges on two key issues. First, the city has to delay the pickup until a few days after everything has been put out. Second, the community needs an ample population of men with pickup trucks.

Practically every household takes advantage of the opportunity to dispose of broken, unwanted, or outdated items at no charge.

Within days of the city's announcement, the curbs are lined with bladeless lawn mowers, boxes of tin cups, ugly lamps, and saggy recliners. A few hours after the junk is put out, the pickup trucks are cruising the streets. They're soon seen loaded up with, you guessed it, bladeless lawn mowers, boxes of tin cups, ugly lamps, and saggy recliners.

My neighbors turn this yearly event into a game. They place an item on the curb, check their watches, and then sit on the porch to watch. A rusting rear-tined tiller went in 15 minutes. The barbecue grill with the burned-out bottom and no handles lasted three hours.

Probably most of these newfound treasures won't make it into their adopted owners' houses. At least, not if their spouses have any say. Instead, the items will go into tool sheds, basements, and garages with the promise of "I can fix it up good as new."

Most likely those same items will show up again on the curbs for next year's pickup. But that's OK. There's always another guy in a pickup waiting to take them home.

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