We don't have garbage pickup. We have a waste transfer site where we take our trash on Saturdays. The manager of the waste transfer site is a kindly, chain-smoking old man whom I call, "The Dump Master." The Dump Master grew up on a farm with fifteen siblings. His father built the kitchen table, benches on either side. The table was always full of homemade bread, jam, and peanut butter in between meals, so no one went hungry. Every spring, the Dump Master's family would purchase one hundred chickens, unsexed, and in the summertime, they would butcher all of the roosters, and keep all of the hens for eggs.
I'm not entirely sure, but I imagine that, in the Dump Master's mind, there are two types of people: the type of people who see the value in other people's trash (like me) and the type who see other people's trash as just plain old trash. The Dump Master himself clearly sees the value. All day long, he sorts things people throw out, and sets the good stuff aside. The mediocre, possibly usable things, he sets aside in front of the dumpsters- but the really good stuff? That goes in his shed. In his shed, he keeps things that he will either sell, or give to special people like me and Little Z.
I don't know why I am in the inner echelon, but I certainly appreciate it. Little Z (wait, I'm supposed to call her Big Z now) has gotten a good portion of her toy trucks from the Dump Master. He has also tried to give us several bicycles, which we have never taken, because they all looked terrible. But I have picked up statues there, and once, an industrial sized spool of chicken wire, which would have cost upwards of $100. And I used it!
Sometimes, the Dump Master tells us stories about his youth. He doesn't remember things that I say, though. Almost every time I go, he asks me how many chickens I have- which poses a conundrum. I don't keep track. How many have I butchered lately? Any eggs hatched recently? It's complicated. Once, he showed us all of the pictures from his daughter's wedding. I barely recognized him, in a suit, walking her down the aisle. Another time, the Dump Master was missing! Heart attack, the replacement said. I was worried. But they he came back, a few weeks later, and smoked a little bit less. He's not lighting one cigarette with the last anymore.
One day he told me,
"I don't recognize people by their faces. Just their trucks. I know you by your truck."
He does not know my name, either. He only calls me, "Young Lady." He himself is of an indeterminate, ancient age-- although he could be very young and he just smokes too much. Equally mysterious to me is his wealth. Is he living in abject poverty, surrounded by trash? Or is he a secret millionaire? Neither would surprise me.
Last weekend, when I went, he said,
"Hey, Young Lady. You know what the best way to cook a chicken is? It's real easy. I'll tell you. You just take some croutons, you know, for salad? You put them in a bag, and you seal it. Then you take a rolling pin, and you crush them, see? And then you dip the chicken pieces in that milk and egg mix- just whisk those together. Then dip it in the croutons, instead of breading. And you get all that seasoning, see? Real good. That's how I do it, anymore."
"Do you fry it or bake it or what?"
"Anyway you want. Doesn't matter."
"I'll be sure and try that!"
"Does your daughter like cars?" and he led Big Z over to the shed.
|There's also a DIY incense burner by Big Z, to the upper right there.|
I ended up making it with turkey. (In related news, Tom Turkey is dead.) It was okay. Maybe it's better with chicken, fried.