#2. People Throw Out Cash ... and Unspeakable Horror
People have an unusual habit of throwing away crazy amounts of money. Sarah routinely finds complete and valid checks that she could totally cash if she wanted to (the checks get shredded instead). Part of the problem is that the age you start receiving social security checks is often the same age you start forgetting to cash them. It's not too surprising when you think about it -- some lady in her 80s having trouble remembering whether or not her husband is still alive is going to throw away her mail from time to time.
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Safer than letting it pile up and crush her.
What's really weird is how much money they find inside other items. "You always want to check the pages of old books, because people cram so much cash in there," Sarah says. It's as if they got partway through building a mystery mansion and then just gave up and put everything out on the curb.
Someone on Andy's route four or five years ago tossed about $15,000 in cash in the garbage. A man had it stashed in a Styrofoam cooler and his wife threw it out because she had no idea it was in there, which is kind of what happens when you put your money in random boxes instead of a bank. "They shut down the whole site to look for it," Andy says, "but we never found it."
That's our story and we're sticking to it.
It's not all buried treasure, though ...
Sarah was a rural garbage collector, so she always knew when deer season rolled around because every street in the neighborhood turned into behind-the-scenes photos from an Eli Roth movie. People put their excess deer bits inside cube-shaped bins, and since deer season is in the winter, the deer giblets tend to freeze into delightful mounds of horror for Sarah to pick up.
"With such bricks, I shall build my meat castle."
"Yeah, it looks like the bastard child of H.P. Lovecraft and a companion cube," Sarah says. "The first time I opened a bin like that I had to double-check to make sure it wasn't made of people. If you ever need to hide a body, deer season is the time." Just glue some werewolf fur to it and nobody will know the difference.
#1. They Take Your Trash Home
There's a reason the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure" exists, and that's because people routinely throw away valuable things simply because they don't want them anymore. This is especially true of old people, who often accidentally throw out real treasures (like those checks we mentioned earlier). And considering all the bloody piles of shit condoms we regularly force sanitation workers to deal with, it should come as no surprise that they have absolutely no problem with taking those treasures and either selling them or keeping them for themselves.
"A little spit 'n' polish, and it'll be just like new!"
"One old lady on our route lost her husband, and a few weeks later she threw out boxes and boxes filled with pictures," Sarah says. The husband had apparently fought in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, so the pile included tons of his war memorabilia. "It was so much history, but the lady just didn't want it anymore. So we kept it," she says. "Once, we found this ink blotter from the 1920s that wound up being worth over $700. Someone just chucked it for being trash. That happens a lot -- older folks wind up throwing out stuff that's old crap to them, but a valuable antique to everyone else."
And remember the lady who threw out all those old, unused baby clothes?
"Like I said, they were pristine. So we sold them to a vintage shop and pocketed the proceeds."
It seems callous, but when you shovel millions of pounds of garbage for a living, things just become things after a while.
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That severed human leg fetched $34.99.
"We have one guy who must be part bloodhound, because he's found two Rolexes so far," Andy says. One watch just needed a new face, and the other was perfect outside of a busted band and a dial that needed replacing. That's several thousand dollars' worth of watches that only needed minimal repair, just tossed out like old guacamole.
Andy himself found a legendary stash of Playboys from the '60s and '70s once, in perfect condition. "Three or four of them had Marilyn Monroe in them," he says. "Long story short, my (now) ex-wife made me give them up." Which presumably means he had to put them in the garbage for someone else to find, which is probably why Andy came across them in the first place, like some bizarre nudity chain letter. "I still kick myself in the ass for that to this day."
Robert Evans is something like a journalist, and he lives here on the Internet.
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