I’ve lately grown a real fondness for road stuff. When I have explained road stuff to people before, they have said ‘oh, you mean hard-rubbish’. But I don’t think that I do. Because it’s not rubbish to me. No way.
Now that I am without a job, my sense of what is cheap and what is expensive has changed. For example, last year I went to Ikea and I felt like a queen. Or at least someone who was about to marry in to the royal family, but couldn’t yet afford stuff that had been pre-assembled. What a thrill it was to be able to purchase so much reasonably priced flat-pack furniture. And coriander. And meatballs. Last week, after three months of joblessness, I went to the same Ikea and rather than buying furniture or meat-goods, spent my time considering how many free Ikea pencils was socially acceptable to take home (I think three).
So road stuff is my new thing. Going for a walk or drive is now a shopping expedition. Rather than concentrating on the task at hand (fitness and/or transport), my mind has taken to scanning curbs and corners for stuff that other people deemed not worthy to have in their homes, but which I would consider truly worthy of my own in this time of need (Mum, it’s ok. I truly do not consider myself to be in ‘a time of need’).
I have always been a keen op-shopper and I like to think that road-stuff-collecting is just the logical next step. All that’s different is that 1. No one had to borrow their cousin’s ute to drag their old chair to the op-shop 2. No one (me) has to pay any cash that they don’t want to part with, and consequently 3. No charity benefits… so I guess that sucks a bit.
Now I’m in Melbourne, I live in a large apartment building where I assume a lot of other people live (though I never seem to see them… where are they?!). This apartment doesn’t really have a nature strip, but instead a section of concrete outside the building that acts as the nature strip for the whole building. One day when I was coming back home from a business meeting (let’s say…), I noticed a box of kitchen utensils sitting on the ground on this concrete strip. When I left the building next, I noticed that a filing cabinet had joined the kitchen utensils. Next time I went, there was a jock strap (I promise this is true), which was joined by a desk. The next day it was all gone (as I write this I consider that maybe it was hard-rubbish day… but I don’t think so.).
I’ve decided that a good name for all of this is The Neighborhood Shuffle (which is also a good name for a non-confrontational partner dance). To begin, everyone takes the stuff in their homes that they don’t like, and puts it out front. Then everyone in the neighborhood pretends to go for a drive, and leaves their Holden Hatchback (or whatever) running while they guiltily grab the chair (or whatever) they want and makes a guilty getaway (even though they are pretty sure this is why it was there to begin with). So all the road stuff stays in the same basic area, but everyone is happy that they have less cr*p weighing down their lives, plus some extra cr*p that was weighing down someone else’s life. Seems to me like the most amazing environmentally-friendly money-saving new-stuff-getting partner dance of all time.
So long as it wasn’t just a chair that someone accidentally left out the front of their house. That would be bad.
Here is a chair that I accumulated recently in The Neighbourhood Shuffle. I'll be playing some music this Wednesday 1 Feb at Libation in Fitzroy. Probably on a different chair.