The Joys of a Dump Run, and Other Errands

By: Sandy Churchill

I love going to the dump—er, transfer station, as I am often corrected with a wink by my father-in-law. You’re probably thinking, what? Did I read that right? What’s the deal with that? I know, a place of trash drop-off, cardboard and plastic recyclables, a stream of cars heading in and out, the occasionally cranky resident who cuts you in line or scowls about some undetermined breech of transfer station etiquette…

Today, this errand topped my list on a brittle-cold but gloriously sunny winter day. For me, there is a familiar queue of dump, bank, post office, library, and supermarket stops, along with the occasional gas station fill-up or random surprise trek to our beautiful park or coffee place.

Considering the joy of errands spurred some thought about the dump in particular. What is it about this errand? Surely, I don’t love lugging heavy bags or bins of stuff to be loaded into the car and then hurled into the dumpsters. The transfer station “scents” in the summer are far from alluring. So what is it? After pondering this, I came up with three main reasons to justify this positive experience and even anticipation.

First, the trip to the dump was a familiar Saturday errand with my dad, where each of us (in our family of six kids) got fun time driving in the car, and often making additional fun stops to the grocery store afterward. The dump trip felt like a “woohoo! It’s Saturday” mood as I leaped out of bed and had free time. Yippee!

Second, I continued this tradition with my own children as we often tackled errands like a fun field trip. When they were little, there was the sequence of fun errand things—picking out books at the library, the gifted lollipop at the bank, the quest to hurl bags into the bins at the dump, and often a snack run at the grocery store. To this day, I have one-on-one kid dates where they have time to talk about movies, classes, friendships, troubles and triumphs as we drive. My son enjoys playing DJ in the car as he shares new favorite music, and my adult daughters enjoy conversation or jaunts to grab coffee, head to a book store, or visit a favorite consignment store. The errands are simply the backdrop for connection and communication, and instead of feeling drained after a half dozen stops, I truly feel energized and happy. 

Third, there is something about being productive that restores hope in my world. There is nothing I can do about inflation, far-flung wars, political strife, or the pandemic. This spun-out-of-control world in which we live can be anxiety-provoking, depressing, isolating, and terrifying, to say the least. But for today, I can get work done, wash the dishes, put on laundry and run to the dump. In the smallest of ways, life can proceed and these tiny tasks can bring joy, if we choose to treasure-seek for positivity—even at the dump!

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