M. Giant's
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Tuesday, June 09, 2009  

Hot Item

I talked a couple of weeks ago about how we got rid of our old water heater. Or, more specifically, how we got a new one. I really didn't discuss how we got rid of the old one, which didn't really happen until Chao came over this past weekend.

The thing is, I didn't want to make my dad haul it upstairs with me, after he'd already saved our bacon and all. So I asked Chao for his help in that area. He was nice enough to show up over the weekend and help me schlep it up the stairs from the basement. I think next time I get a new water heater, I'll set it up on the main floor. Maybe my study or something. Because trying to get a water heater up the stairs -- drained or not, and it was drained -- proved to be rather difficult indeed.

Funny thing about a water heater, it weighs about nine hundred and eleventy tons. You'd be surprised how hard it is to get something like that up a staircase. And I wouldn't have been able to accomplish that at all, without Chao. But fortunately, the two of us were able to manhandle the thing up the basement stairs and out the side door, where we managed to roll it across the yard. At which point I was really glad that the previous owners had opted for a cylindrical water heater instead of one of those square ones. With some supervision from M. Edium, we got it to the curb, where the garbage people would pick it up. At least in theory.

The "in theory" is where it kind of falls down, because yesterday afternoon, after the city garbage crew had been through, it was still there. But fortunately, the "in theory" doesn't cover what our friend Chao calls the "Jawas."

Do you have Jawas in your neighborhood? The people who drive around on garbage day with a pickup truck, gathering stuff people put out for the trash? Obviously they serve a useful purpose, reducing the amount of net waste in our society, but I've been a little freaked out ever since I saw a whole swarm of them once. It was eerie.

Anyway, at some point yesterday afternoon, I became aware of a pickup truck that had stopped outside our house. I looked outside in time to watch a woman with a ponytail light a cigarette, then climb out with a wrench that she started to use to remove the gas valve from the heater. Well, okay, if she can get it off, she can have it. But she couldn't get it off, so she decided to take the whole thing.

The truck bed was already full, was the tricky thing. Oh, and a water heater weighs about nine hundred and eleventy tons, so that was the other tricky thing. So I went to the back of the house get my shoes.

But by the time I was back at the front door and ready to go out and give her a hand with the heavy lifting, she'd already heaved it up onto the truck's tailgate. I was frankly amazed.

I watched her for a few seconds longer, trying to situate the thing so it wouldn't roll off the back the minute she pulled away from the curb. I suppose I still could have offered my help, but packing and arranging aren't really my strong suit. And I heard her drive away ten minutes later with no crash anyway, so clearly she was fine on her own.

Next time I have to get rid of a water heater, I'm not gong to bother hauling it out of the basement. I'll just put up a sign on the curb that says "FREE BROKEN WATER HEATER INSIDE, DOWNSTAIRS" and wait for her to come back.

posted by M. Giant 11:59 AM 7 comments


When I moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn, I left all kinds of stuff behind -- little stuff I didn't care about enough to move. Little junk, crappy knock-together furniture, stuff like that. And in New York, on the right days at the right times, you can just leave everything on the curb. So I left all this stuff on the curb, including trash bags and stuff.

About ten minutes later -- literally ten minutes -- there were about five guys out there, going through everything, opening all the bags, taking out empty chipped picture frames and stuff. At one point, one of them found an old laptop battery, and he picked it up and I watched as he looked and looked at it, turning it over and over trying to figure out what it was. I eventually leaned out the window and said, "Laptop battery. It's no good anymore, but it's a computer battery." They were paying close attention.

By Blogger Linda, at June 9, 2009 at 1:24 PM  

Forgive me as I am sleep deprived, but why does Chao call them Jawas? I'm not getting that and I bet I should...

We just moved 3 weeks ago, from a mostly middle class, "regular folks" burb to one of the ritziest, fanciest, richest burbs. (Not because we are ritzy, fancy or rich, mind you - this is the best school district in the area and also a 5 minute commute to work for Hubby, vs the 45-hour plus commute he had at our old house.) Well, our old grill - the one that lived outdoors through upstate NY "lake effect" winters without ever being covered for 9 years - was mortally wounded upon impact with our new patio. Like, flames shooting out of the burner knobs on the front. Hubby wisely disconnected the propane tank ASAP and dragged the sorry wreck to the curb. Mind you, this thing was barely more than a heap of rust molecules held together by the residue of Many Meals Past. We only moved it because we were too cheap to just leave it and buy a new one for the new house.

Anyhow, by early the next morning? Yep, it was GONE. Days before any garbage pick up. We were amazed that anyone would "dumpster dive" in this fancy-pants neighborhood, though Hubby now has developed a theory that perhaps people cruise the area looking for a better quality of junk.

We repeated the exercise with a nasty, rust-around-the fixtures, cast iron bathroom sink and countertop. From the 60s. Rarely cleaned from the looks of it, too. We curbed it and posted a curb alert on our local Craigslist for good measure (it was the day after garbage pick-up, so we didn't want to risk it sitting there for a week. Also, it weighed almost as much as your water heater, and we didn't want to move it again). It was gone within 20 minutes of the posting going up on CL.

One man's junk is another man's treasure, as they say...........

Wow, this is a long comment. Sorry, again I cite sleep deprivation for befogging my brain even more than usual.

By Blogger Heather, at June 9, 2009 at 3:59 PM  

Our street is the main drag for Jawas, and we've been disposing of our junk that way for 15 years. We once had someone stop to pick up our old storm door before we had it completely off the doorframe. And despite the fact that it had our house number bolted to it.

But our street is actally missing right now, ripped out for major reconstruction, so no Jawas. I told my husband that this is NOT the summer for cleaning out the basement.

By Blogger Dimestore Lipstick, at June 9, 2009 at 7:02 PM  

Heather, Jawas is, I think, a Star Wars reference. The Jawas were those funny hooded-robe wearing creatures that bought and sold robots and other scrap.....

By Blogger Jared Klein, at June 10, 2009 at 6:13 AM  

WHAT?!?!?! By HERSELF?!?!?!? I'm so emasculated right now. I have moved cast iron steam heat radiators up and down stairs and I don't remember them being as heavy as your water heater. Kudos to her (and her penis).

I'm also about to test the waters with the Edina Jawas. I'm guessing they have designer robes and halogen glowing eyes instead of the standard red LEDs. I've got a couch I don't need any more.

By Blogger Chao, at June 10, 2009 at 7:12 AM  

When my husband moved in with me in Chicago, we were putting things that he wasn't bringing to my apartment by the dumpster in the alley. We put an old desk there, then went back to his apartment for another load. By the time we returned, less than 10 minutes later, the desk was gone and no one was in sight. The Jawas will take anything here -- including the dumpsters themselves. Two weeks ago, we had to call the city to replace our large garbage cans that we put out on garbage day because someone had taken them (from our townhouse and 4 others).

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 10, 2009 at 8:28 AM  

For future large-trash reference, in Mpls the garbage guys take notes (on your recycling day), and the large-trash guys come by the *next* day to pick stuff up. I suspect they do it in purpose to keep the amount of junk the city has to deal with low, because pretty much anything metal or useful will be scavenged long before then (as you have documented).

By Blogger Aneka, at June 10, 2009 at 7:38 PM  

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