Saturday, August 7, 2010

Blog the Eighth: Scrap Man, Redux

So, I'll be heading out to scrounge for scrap and cans pretty soon.  Last week I talked about where the habit came from, how it found its roots.  Today, for those who care - or don't - I'll share a little about what this all looks like. 

First of all, it may be "easy money" - in that it's lying around, waiting for us to pick up - but it's not a lot of money,  that's for sure.  Not right now, anyway.  I need more scrap outlets for that, people actually soliciting folks to cart their junk away.

It's not clean money, either, and by that I mean it gets pretty nasty sometimes.  Now, for clarification: I don't dumpster dive.  Nor do I pick through garbage (which is different than "junk" - usually all metal).  But still, you figure any cans or bottles (plastic & glass) left alongside the road for a few months are going to get all manner of offal on them.  Sometimes they're newly tossed and therefore sorta clean.  

Sorta.  But sometimes not.  I'll not go into details.  I'm sure you get the picture.

One time I picked up a can that had a garter snake coiled up inside it.  Picked it up, felt something shift and wriggle around in there, put it down quick...and out it slithered.  

Like Cthulhu in a can. 

Anyway.  Not clean.  Good, skintight gloves are a must.

Plus, you gotta have the right amount of space, and a system.  I have a back porch/garage type deal.   I have room to sort.  This is what it looks like:

- boxes full of small aluminum scrap
- boxes full of stainless steel
- boxes full of tin
-      "               copper/brass
-      "               copper wiring
-      "               crushed, nonreturnable/nonrefundable aluminum cans
-      "               tin cans
-      "               returnable soda/beer bottles
- stacks of hub caps in the corner
- stacks of snapped/broken highway sign-posts (steel)
- piles of counted and paged returnable cans/plastic bottles

The biggest thing is to let it add up.  That, and always be on the look-out.  I don't dumpster dive, but I do traffic dodge.  Have gotten a lot of hubcaps and some nice aluminum rims that way.  At Necon, I filled up my cooler and a whole bag with empties, brought them home.  

Probably do the same at Context, too.

Anyway, I manage to hit the can redemption centers twice in one summer, same with the scrap metal place, if I'm lucky.  The dividends - considering the hours put in, which is maybe 4-6 hours a week, tops, walking - are okay.  It'll never pay the bills - unless I get a truck and contacts of folks who have massive amounts of junk that needs hauling - but it's nice to store it up, take a wad of cash with us on vacation that's not accounted for in the budget; nice to pay out of pocket for repairs or rental cars and gas money to Cons.

Whatever fills in the holes. And right now, with two minivans carrying over 150,000 miles on their cranky transmissions and Context 23 and Horrorfind coming up?

That's a lot of holes to fill....