A trio of Spring Clean-Up Week tales, featuring the other side of the equation that makes these two weeks out of each year in Crookston so interesting...
For every one family in Crookston who likes to go through their homes and properties every spring and fall and place items by their curbsides to eventually be picked up by city crews, there seems to be 10 people who take pleasure in driving around and enthusiastically rifling through those piles of discarded things, and loading up.
Last Saturday, as my wife and I proceeded to turn our garage inside-out, we had some notable encounters with some of those people.
• As my wife stood close by disassembling a broken bed frame to place by the curb, what appeared to be a husband and wife went through our growing pile of things and put various items in their car. I viewed the scene from our garage as the woman aggressively peered into various large garbage bags; when she saw something she wanted she tore the bags open and all kinds of things she didn’t want fell out. I wanted so bad to kindly ask her to not leave a bigger mess than when she got there, but I chose to remain silent.
Then the woman saw the color printer, and she asked my wife if it worked. It did, my wife told her. Then she asked my wife if it had cartridges in it. No, my wife responded, there were no cartridges in it.
"Well, I'm not taking a printer if it doesn't have cartridges!" the suddenly exasperated woman said. "Those things cost more than the printer!"
• A pickup pulling what must have been a 20-foot long flatbed trailer came barreling around the corner with purpose, pulled up and stopped. What appeared to be a dad and his adult son hopped out, and in no-nonsense fashion they began loading a couple dressers and other things I would have bet big money wouldn't have been touched until the city crew showed up.
The pickup and trailer were already overloaded to the hilt when they pulled up. A maze of straps and bungee cords somehow held it all in place, and they just kept wedging in more.
"You guys are crazy!" my wife said from the driveway, with a laugh.
The younger guy said it was their second load of the day. "It's not crazy if you want to make money,” he added.
• During these clean-up weeks, there are the unbashful boulevard browsers that will rifle through your discarded things when you're close by to witness it, and then there are those who'd rather not have an audience.
Three times last Saturday, spread over several hours, a guy in a pickup drove by our house, slowed down, then drove off. We figured he wanted to stop to see if our curbside had anything he wanted, but when he saw us he left because he didn’t want to be watched.
After our work was done, he came by a fourth time, but there we were, relaxing on our front steps, enjoying a cold beer in the sunshine. He slowed way down, as if he'd looked toward the driveway and garage and not seen us, and seemed primed to stop. But then he must have seen us sitting on the steps, and in a bit of a huff, he accelerated up the hill.
Later that night, as darkness settled in, I looked outside from our living room and saw his pickup parked by the curb, and the light from a flashlight darting around amid our collection of curbside things.
Hopefully he didn’t leave empty-handed.