When you live in a part of a city that could sometimes be described as “the edge of the ghetto,” you discover peculiarities that people living in other parts of the city are unfamiliar with.
For example, one of my friends posted on Facebook how she and her husband were recently trapped in their garage until police arrived after a crazy woman followed their vehicle into the driveway and proceeded to rap on their door for 10 minutes. When the police came, the woman flashed her “floppity meth boobs” at them in the middle of the street and yelled, “Don’t shoot! I’m a woman!”
Now, that’s the kind of entertainment you just can’t find in suburbia. And it’s free.
Having lived on the edge of the ghetto for nearly a decade, I have learned the finer benefits of my neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong; it’s a great neighborhood. I love the diversity and convenience, which is why I’ve chosen to live and stay here. We have old houses and big, mature trees. And, for the most part, it’s safe — save for the occasional gang member hiding from police in an empty house or the criminal antics of the teenagers across the street.
Part of the convenience is a practice I’ve come to know as “curbing it.” Several years ago, I had a set of two dining chairs that were in good condition but which I no longer wanted. They surely wouldn’t fit in my compact car to drop off at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, and I don’t have much storage space in my house. So, taking a cue from my neighbors, I set the chairs at the curb with a sign that said, “FREE.”
The next morning, the chairs were gone. It was like a magical, hassle-free way to get rid of good stuff I no longer wanted. Since then, I’ve set a few large items at the curb, and they’ve always disappeared by morning.
My sister lives about a mile from my house. A few months ago, we were talking about this practice. Her expression brightened as she said, “Oh, you curbed it!” She and her husband use the expression “curb it” when they have good junk they no longer want. Until that time, I’d kept my curbside donations a secret, setting out items in the dark of night.
Then, I decided to see just how far I could take curbing junk.
Several months ago, on a health kick, I bought a case of V8 V-Fusion juice at Costco. I don’t like juice, and I didn’t like this one any better. I drank two or three cans of it, then it just sat in the fridge. Finally, I got tired of looking at it. I figured I could dump it in the trash, but then I decided to curb it. Sure enough, the next morning it was gone.
Christmas ornaments or clothes you don’t want anymore? Put them in a bag and curb it. TV that doesn’t work anymore? Curb it. You can curb virtually anything, really.
Recently, however, I discovered the one caveat I must issue about curbing your junk: People may steal your trash.
Over my xmas break, I cleaned out my linen closet and bagged up all of the good but mismatched pillow cases, blankets and sheets. I intended to drop them off at Goodwill, but in the middle preparing for my sister’s wedding, I was too busy, so I curbed them. I also tossed an old, hole-ridden comforter and other garbage in the trashcan. It just so happened that I curbed the good stuff on the same day I had to set out the trash, but I put the bag of good stuff several feet from the trashcan.
The next morning, the bag of good stuff was gone — but so was the bag that contained the holey comforter and other trash. Obviously someone was going to be disappointed with the second bag.
That same day, I was at my sister’s house when I noticed a refrigerator at the curb of her neighbor’s house. A half-hour later, when we went outside, we noticed the fridge was gone. Her neighbor came out, and we laughed and said, “So you know the secret of ‘curbing it,’ too?” He looked confused, and we pointed to the spot where the fridge had been.
“Someone took it?” he said. “I was going to call a service to pick it up!”
Yes, in less than an hour, someone had come by and taken the fridge.
I’ve since learned that people in other parts of the city curb it. People who live near the universities have been known to curb furniture and various items that college students find useful and pick up. I guess you could consider curbing it as donating useful junk to the people in your neighborhood who really need it or can find a good use for it.