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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cleaning Up Flood Damage For White Trash

Do you know how heavy a waterlogged couch is?
Friday, a friend of mine called and asked me to come over to his girlfriend's house and clean up flood damage. I managed to get a ride from another friend, Jim, to make the cross-town trip. What we didn't realize until we got there was that we would be working on the next door tenant's basement. So, we spent several hours cleaning up flood damage for white trash. (Originally published on my other blog on 7/23/11)

Flood damage is horrific. Mud is intermingled with everything that is on the floor. I was told the water was two feet deep at its peak. So, everything that was lower than 24" from the floor had to go.

What surprised me is that these tenants let two strangers go in their house and just start throwing things out. They took off. Probably to get more tattoos. What really shocked me was what we found in that basement and what we were expected to throw out.

There must have been twenty or thirty empty plastic soda bottles laying around in all the different rooms. I don't think the flood waters pushed them up through the drain. We also found about fifteen tins of chewing tobacco laying around - bags of chips, boxes of crackers, pretzels and other garbage.

Without the tenants there to instruct us, Jim and I just started pitching everything. Lots of kids toys were hauled to the curb. I was a bit miffed at how lazy and indifferent these people were, so Jim and I played Rock Stars and smashed all the instruments and guitars. I kept singing The Who's My Generation and WHAM! - another guitar bites the dust.

This flooding happened on Monday and here it was Friday. Let me tell you, a flooded basement takes on an aroma all to itself. And I didn't want to touch anything. My buddy's girlfriend gave me a pair of pink dish washing gloves. I looked very stylish.

Jim and I used a claw tool from the garage to dig clothing off the floor and dump them into garbage bags.

We put in several hours of work and then decided that we had volunteered enough.

What struck me about both sides of the house - tenant and the girlfriend - was the sheer amount of pure crap that they had piled up in every single room. I know the flood didn't cause that much shit to show up. They bought it and stashed it. Then bought some more. And more. And a little bit more.

When I lost everything, and I do mean practically everything, I found I could live life with a lot less stuff. All the things I thought were so important, didn't mean anything.

How much to do you need in your life? Are you being choked out by clutter?

Here's a basic rule of thumb. Excluding holiday decorations, if you haven't used it in six months, you probably don't need it. And if the stuff is in decent or good condition, I know there is someone out there that does need it.

Set a game plan. Locate the Goodwill, Big Brothers & Sisters or Catholic Charities near you and make a point to get some boxes of idle stuff over there. You will do yourself good and really help someone else out.

Otherwise, you might wind up with guys like Jim and me cleaning up flood damage for white trash. And we rock when we do it... "Talkin' bout my generation!"

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