Niagara Gazette

July 26, 2013

HAMILTON: Of flooded basements, sharks, fish and scrap collectors

By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — After last week’s torrential winds and rains, I had 4-plus feet of water in my basement. That put my washer, dryer, furnace, water heater, a range, several electric portable electric tools, and lawn care machines all under water. Because of that horrific experience, I could not help but to think back some 40-years ago when I was a marine sciences major at San Diego’s Mesa College.

It was not that the flooded basement so much reminded me of the sea, it was the uncanny resemblance in the cycle of life that the once-studied great sea creatures shared with the storm water-destroyed appliances that I had sat upon the curb.

When a great white shark dies and sinks to the depths of the ocean, all that it has consumed is returned to life by sea creatures much smaller than itself. The smaller fish profits from the shark’s demise, as they scavenge the shark’s remains.

So it was with those appliances that I placed along the curb for disposal as I witnessed the scrappers leaping from their pickups and filing their truck beds with the major recyclables that the Modern Disposal recycle truck could not handle.

It was a costly day for me, but a payday for those scrappers. With what they earned that day, perhaps they could buy themselves new appliances for their own homes and then await the day that some scrap scavenger would continue the cycle with their once-new appliance.

And so goes that circle of life — for the great white sharks, and for the great white appliances upon which we depend so much for our human creature comforts.

Surprisingly, shortly after I had removed the last of the great white appliances from the basement — believe it or not, with the help of two anxious scrap collectors, the regular trash collectors came. As they threw furniture and wet junk into the back of the truck, and as they drank the cold bottled water that I had given them, I told them of the scrap scavengers that had gotten there before them.

“I love those guys,” said one of the trash collectors. “They make our jobs so much easier — if they don’t make a mess of the garbage before we get there.”

Not only do those scrap collectors make their jobs so much easier; in a way, they make all of our lives much easier. They are capable of cleaning our streets much faster than can the city.

Now, if only we can find a way of adding value to discarded electronic equipment, then these televisions and computer monitors would not be littering our streets.

God bless the ‘honest’ scrap collectors.

Contact Ken Hamilton at kenhamilton930@aol.com.

Contact Ken Hamilton at kenhamilton930@aol.com.