Dumping Ground

Guess my son isn’t as ready for independence as he thinks he is. Here’s a funny story for you.

He and I did a dump run recently. We got there moments before the dump closed. This place is out in the woods, with chain link fence all around it, and automated gates. So picture the containers in this oasis of a couple spotlights, surrounded by the deep dark you find in woods at night. I told my son to hop out, drop the tailgate, and back me to the edge. Then said, jokingly, we need to hurry so we don’t get locked in. Off goes my newly – eighteen year old, wanting – to – be – an – adult. And comes right back.

“Mom, there’s a guy in there!”


“There’s a guy in there!”

“What do you mean, a body?”

“No, a guy!”

And then he just stands there. Waiting for me to fix it.

I get out of the truck, walk back, and sure enough, in the spotlight, I see an older, scruffy man down in the container. He has a head lamp and a hand truck. He climbs out, hauling the hand truck, and walks away. No eye contact, no words. I said, ‘you don’t have to leave on our account; I just don’t want to whack you tossing stuff’ but no response. He walked into the dark shadows and presumably climbed the fence as there were no gates where he went.

Later, I laughed, thinking about how grown up my son wants to be, and yet how he still balances on that line of ‘mom will fix things’.

But then the writing brain took over the parental brain. What if there had been a body in there? What could the man have been looking for? I know, probably scrap metal, but still, what if it was something important? What would that important thing be, to send one out in the dark with just a headlamp? Where did he come from? Where did he go? Obviously out into the woods, but from there, where? And why?

I’m now imagining all sorts of scenarios, and I wish I’d asked him for his story. Maybe it’s mundane and he’s just a dumpster diver. But maybe it’s a Story.


7 thoughts on “Dumping Ground

  1. My children are “all grown-up” now, but still look to me to fix things, to explain why things happen the way they do,or just make it all better. (now that is a run on sentence for you). I have held their hand when I should have let go and let go when I should have held on it is not easy to know what is right until I look back. Ahh, but hat I did was how that was to and I am the only one to pass judgement.

    The man in the trash has a story. Does not seem willing to share it. Running out into the woods to wait until you are gone, to continue his quest alone. I came across a man sitting on the curb, his head in his hands. I asked him if he needed help? He said that he was waiting to go to jail. “There is nothing you can do.” and put his head back in his hands. (He was sitting outside the deputies office. What story could he have told me if he had felt like sharing. We all have a story, very few tell it.


    • As always, great food for thought here in your comments. One thing very difficult for me to fathom is not telling the story. Not understanding why someone would not want to share the story. Giving voice to the story, to me, is strength and power, and something that brings us together. And yet, as I think about this, I value my privacy a great deal, and there are a lot of things I don’t share. Like telling you and the family about the cancer beginnings. So I guess I do understand not telling a story.


  2. My mom still feeds me. I’m 47 years old and I still look forward to seeing my mom because I know I will be fed. Even when he’s full grown, he’ll probably always think of you as bigger.
    When you write the story, will you share it here?


    • You’re right. I’m in my 50s and still have moments when I wish my parents were still around. I think that dumpster moment is going to have to show up in writing somewhere!


  3. Strange thing is, I don’t ask my parents to fix things, and what’s more, I resent it that they often seem to want to. There are thoughts/remarks I don’t utter in their hearing because they try to fix them, and I don’t want them fixed, I just want them heard. Probably this means I’m still stuck feeling teenager-y, and am trying so hard to wrest autonomy from my parents that I won’t concede that they know anything I don’t. But I would love to feel able to ask them for help without feeling like I’m surrendering myself.


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