Picking 102: Picking Rules (or… How To Avoid Absolute Humiliation)

Let’s be real… Slowly driving around a strange neighborhood in a black SUV won’t make you very popular. (Especially with parents.) What will make you even less popular is hopping out of your car and approaching their property. (Especially if the kids are outside.) No worries, parents! I am not after your sticky-popsicle-hands little tykes… I am after your trash.

(Hit rock bottom of popularity scale here.)

Picking is embarrassing enough. No one has the same transforming trash vision as you otherwise they wouldn’t be tossing such treasures! When a homeowner sees you rifling through their garbage, they most likely run to their TV and immediately set the DVR to record “Hoarders” in hopes that they might see your mental stability documented on A&E.  This is embarrassing. Not following the Rules of Picking can make picking humiliating.

Picking Rule #1: Know Your Limits

On a perfect Spring afternoon sometime last year, I was cruising down Kearney (a street in Manhattan, KS) when I spied a particularly forlorn dresser. It was missing a drawer or two and maybe even a leg, but it had potential. I screeched to a halt, hopped out of my SUV, popped the trunk and got to work.

“Okay,” I thought to myself as I folded down the back seats, “You can do this… No need to call boyfriend….”

I drug the dresser as far as I could to the curb and still no one was in sight. I then curled my fingers under the lip of the dresser on each end and proceeded to lurch towards my open trunk, praying that no one was peering through their blinds as this very second. As I got closer to the car, I began to lean back, hoping to guide the dresser into my car feet first. The further I leaned, the more the existing drawers threatened to come crashing on the pavement which I prevented by sticking my knees over the drawers. The only way to describe this position would be a cross between crab walking and doing the Monster Mash. It was not a pretty sight. When I realized the dresser wasn’t going to fit that way… I should have given up. Right then and there… I should have thrown in the towel.

But I didn’t.

I wiped the sweat from brow and tried another angle… And another… And another. It must have been a time where class was just breaking and students were just starting to flock towards campus and I panicked. What if some one walks by that I know!? Sweat began to surface–not from exertion but from the fear of being recognized. I finally came to terms with losing the war with the dresser. The dresser was a cat; my house was the vet and my trunk? A teeny tiny kennel. There was no way this dresser was going to the vet home with me. Just as a large group of people turned the corner on to Kearney and headed towards campus, I ditched the dresser in the gutter and darted back to the driver’s seat.

But not before a nice man offered to help. “No, thanks! I didn’t really want it anyways,” I lied as my face burned red and I sped off.

Humiliating. Make sure you know what fits in your car and (more importantly) what does not.


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