Meditations on a Dump Run (Part 1)

Not too long ago, a friend accompanied me to the Astoria dump. He’d never experienced the primal joy of taking a load of shit and throwing it away with wild abandon. It was my job to instruct him on the fine art of how to obtain maximum joy from a dump run. And that I did, calling on my long and storied history of dump runs and throwing away shit.

My history began in my youth, in Oregon City with my father, at the dump and adjacent landfill near Kelly Field, where once during a baseball game, I was stung by a swarm of yellow jackets as I was urinating in some blackberries.

In the early days, it was open-air if I remember correctly, and you just drove right up to the edge of a concrete precipice, paid a few bucks, and then cast your shit deep down onto a pile of more shit. Of course there were gulls and crows, and a few years later, dump officials erected silver (or were they blue?) towers that released fired methane to keep, presumably, the landfill from blowing up, which occasionally happened to dumps in that era.

I quickly learned that the experience of a dump run was greatly enhanced if you had large, breakable objects to smash upon the pile. TVs were obviously the best. (Remember, this was long before recycling.) No wonder rock stars loved hurling them out of hotel windows and watching them explode on contact. In a sense I became, for a few precious seconds, a rock star at the dump when I got to throw a television set over a precipice and watch and hear it explode. Furniture and full-length mirrors were fun, too. And small lamps would fly through the air for what seemed like hours and then shatter ever so beautifully. Oh, and the old church coffee percolators were fun to heave as well. I also recall flinging a speckled bowling ball, too, and watching it pulverize a shower stall’s glass door.

Often I would accompany my friends with their fathers to the dump. The call would come early Saturday morning, I’d ask my mom or dad permission, and later, a friend and his father would pick me up in some kind of truck and off we went. I preferred these dump runs with my friends’ fathers because my father was not the kind to amass a lot of shit, or the really good stuff that broke apart on impact. These other fathers hauled all manner of appliances, windows, lawnmowers and furniture. I once participated in throwing a drill press over the precipice. What a sound that made when it landed and cracked in two.

When I think back to what was thrown away, most of it was in pretty decent shape and today would be donated to thrift stores, which were uncommon in my Oregon City youth.

I never recall a single time a female joined us. I have never been on a dump run with a girlfriend or wife. I have brought along dogs.