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.