Surprising finds

Every now and then I find something useful just lying on the side of the road or in the trash. It’s amazing what people will discard.

We live in a college town and students are notorious for load lightening when it’s time to move back home for the summer. You could furnish an entire house and with not too bad stuff, just by cherry picking what is left on the sidewalk.

I once picked up a satchel containing a perfectly good Craftsman 2-hp router complete and some decent bits. Not too long ago, I found a set of carving burrs. There are several different sizes and shapes, several mandrels intended to be drill driven and some various knobs and holding devices to be mounted on the outboard end. There is a maker’s name on several of the pieces but all an online search revealed is that they are German made and discontinued many years ago.

Once, when we were much younger, my wife and I along with our friend Charlie were driving home at the end of the day. Charlie was sitting in the back seat and he kept complaining of a horrible smell. After much discussion, it was decided that my old sneakers were the culprit. So I slipped them off and tossed them out by the side of the road. But the unpleasant olfactory experience was unabated and further examination revealed an old sandwich under the front seat, so out went the sandwich. At that point it dawned on me that I had tossed out a perfectly good pair of shoes and I raced to recover them. To my relief they were still there but when I picked them up, I immediately noticed that someone had taken the laces. Maybe they were the wrong size for the finder. Or maybe they were not such great shoes after all.



  • Charles Peek says:

    Hello, about 20 years or so ago I worked with MHMR (mentalhealth/mentalretardation) teaching clients to work being liter pickers. I had four crews covering six highway districts for the TX Department of Transportation being litter pickers or janitors. I would work along them learning my job to see what worked and what didn’t then decide what to use or change. We found a lot of various stuff besides litter: tools, wrenches, sockets, hammers, pliers, It was amazing. One individual found a $100 bill beside me. A great many people that are considered throw-aways can be taught to be productive, very productive.

  • I find it unfortunate that consumers throw away so many products. Many valuable tools and appliances are discarded for very minor defects (often the result of neglect or misuse) and could have years of utility if repaired. I have salvaged a number of good-quality discarded items, but unfortunately most wind up in landfills.

  • Tony says:

    While the streets in America may not be paved with gold…there is a lot of neat stuff to be had!

  • Many years ago I acquired a very expensive scale that was designed to count industral parts in mutiples of ten or a hundred. It was in perfect comdition until I tried to make it work. It failed so I called the company that made it and described the failure to count. They explained that always happens when a key interior component fails. OK, how much for the part? $350. What’s the value of the machine after repair? A buyer can buy a new one for $700, a used one is worth about half as much. So this beautiful bargain went back in the trash. What a shame.

  • Jon Walpole says:

    What’s next…dumpster diving?

  • ben boynton says:

    Yeah, I found a new Powermatic table saw along with the young woman that I later married.

  • A.J. Hamler says:


    You found them?!! I lost those years ago.

    Sure miss that saw.

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