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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Who'd Steal A Bag Of Milorganite?

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        There's nothing new about dumpster diving in Milwaukee--put anything of value out at your curb and chances are someone will be there, giving it the once-over before the garbage man comes to take it away.    Years ago, I put two rooms of crumbling, out-of-date shag carpet by the road only to see it vanish within a couple of hours.   

        Dumpster diving is back with a vengeance in light of the recent Milwaukee area floods.    Bargain hunters with no apparent concern for their health are helping themselves to water-soaked wares, never thinking of the contamination factor.    That wasn't tap water that ended up all those basements, people.    Chances are your "bargain" was steeped in lawn runoff, or worse.

        We had no such issues at my house although I had a minor haz-mat situation to deal with this week: a can of garbage I forgot to put out, one that sat baking in the summer heat.     One that my wife had filled with old food from the refrigerator     One that was starting to stink, all to be damned.

        It got so bad that I called our village, asking if they could send a spare truck by to pick it up a few days early.     Sure, they said.   Just make sure it's curbside first thing in the morning.

        That I did--hauling it out to the street as I left for work at 2:30 a.m.   Even though I made sure the cover was tight, I respect the crafty nature of our backyard friends and figured I should weigh the lid down, just in case a varmint was able to somehow uncap the can.     The stuff inside was still curing and emitting an awful smell, an odor that you could pick up for several feet away even with the cover secured.    It's the kind of odor that repels humans but draws a four-legged crowd.

         All I could find in the garage was a brand new, unopened bag of Milorganite.     I snagged it, walked it down the driveway, placed it gingerly on top of the stinking can, and headed off to work.

         I came home later that same morning to find the can right where I'd left it, the lid still on.    Strange, I thought, that the garbage guy would've emptied the can and then put the cap back on.   

         I walked out to the can and knew within ten feet that there's been no visit from the refuse crew.    I held my nose and kicked it,   The can didn't budge.   It was still full of an unspeakable mess, yet minus the bag of Milorganite I'd set on top of it earlier in the morning.

          What the hell?

           Someone in dire need of fertilizer boosted it, despite the fetid aroma.    Mine is not a busy street, so whoever did the stealing not only had a good eye but apparently no sense of smell or gag reflex, either.  

           The garbage would be taken by day's end, but my amazement lingers.    I know this is a community that loves a bargain, and trash that's left curbside is considered "in play" for others.    One man's garbage is, after all, another guy's treasure.

            Milorganite?    Left a top a can of rotting garbage?     A treasure?    "Look what I scored honey," I can hear the dumpster diver saying to his wife.   "A bag of Milorganite!    It's not even open!"

           Nice get, dude.     I guess I should be more surprised he didn't take the stuff that was in the can, too.

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