Small town Recycling: “One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure”

My mom and I have just now been on a mission while sitting on the back deck:  Waiting to find out how many minutes it takes to get rid of a tiller cultivator.

The motivation for this started the other day with the lawn mower.

Our 3-year-old Lawnmower Bites the Dust

Four days ago, the mower quit on us just as we were getting the yard tidied up for a visit from my aunt and uncle.

My dad’s younger brother, Chuck the handyman, and my aunt live in Mattoon, about 45 minutes from Marshall.  It’s Chuck’s habit to pop over from time to time to deal with little things around the house since my dad is no longer able to do that.  He and my dad then have hang-out guy time while my mom does errands outside of town.

Wednesday was just such a visit but with Chuck’s wife, my Aunt Sherry, in tow.  It was going to be us ladies heading over to Terre Haute for flower and clothes shopping while the brothers visited.

A visit from family (From left to right: Myself, my mom, dad, Aunt Sherry and Uncle Chuck)

A visit from family (From left to right: Myself, my mom, dad, Aunt Sherry and Uncle Chuck)

Chuck, as always, brought his tools to find out what repairs were needed.  This time around, it was the disabled mower.

As soon as Chuck hopped out of his car, he, Sherry, my mom and I gathered around the inoperable machine for examining.

After 15 minutes of inspection and trying numerous options to get the thing started, Chuck examined the spark plug.  I gave the mower a start-up tug on the cord to get it running while Chuck took a look to see what was happening inside the mechanism after the spark plug was removed.

“O.K.!” he announced triumphantly as we women waited anxiously for his expert opinion.

“No spark.”

Like we who are not mechanically inclined would know what that entails.

“So . . . what does that mean?” my mom inquired, with the assumption he’d go into a bit more detail.

“Well,” he said slowly, seemingly to contemplate a complicated answer, “it means . . . no spark!”

“Smarty pants,” my mom retorted.  “Well, I know  there’s no spark.  You just told me! Can it be fixed?”

“Not without taking apart the motor and replacing whatever it is inside that’s not sparking. Just easier to buy a new mower, I think.”

Thus the tasks of the day were set: The men would head over to the Walmart to buy a new lawn mower while the Wieck women went clothes and flower shopping.

Recycling At Its Best:  Just say “It’s for Free”

After our return, a brand new, straight-out-of-the-box, $165 lawn mower greeted us.

The new mower (For my Chinese audience:  Don't mow in bare feet! I'm just posing for the photo.)

The new mower (For my Chinese audience: Don’t mow in bare feet! Very dangerous.  I’m just posing for the photo.)

“Now, as for this 3-year-old one,” Chuck suggested, “you could sell it and someone can use it for parts.  Or you can keep it for parts.”

My mom immediately dismissed that idea.

“No, no, no!  I’m trying to clear out the garage, not clutter it up.  Just leave it out in front with a sign and it’ll be gone in no time.  We have drive-by bargain hunters who would love to have that thing.”

Chuck balked at that suggestion but my dad had said the same thing so he followed orders.

My uncle taped a small sticky-note to the handle that read “No spark” and left it along the road around 4 p.m.

When I took the dog for a walk the next morning at 5 a.m., it was gone.


This sudden departure of an unwanted item spurred my mom into action.

“Now that we’re on a roll, let’s get rid of that tiller cultivator,” she said to my dad. (A tiller cultivator is a lawn device with rotating blades that digs up and loosens hard ground for planting.) “We haven’t used that thing in years.  Just takes up space in the garage.”

After some discussion, it was decided the tiller cultivator could go the way of the old lawn mower.

My dad dug around in one of the kitchen drawers and produced the “Directions for Use” brochure which I then placed in a zip-lock bag to hang on the machine.

Chuck and Sherry visit 008

A quick, hand-written sign was made (courtesy of yours truly) and then it was time to lug the thing out to deposit alongside the road.

"Take me!  I'm yours." (Not meant for me, I might add.)

“Take me! I’m yours.” (Not meant for me, I might add.)

True to word, it hadn’t been used in years.  It was covered in thick cobwebs and filth, but with a quick hosing off, it’d be just fine.

Not my job to do that but someone else’s so I left it as is.

After making a visible set-up of sign, brochure and machine, my mom and I made coffee, then positioned ourselves on the back deck to see just how long it would take for our garden equipment to disappear.

Placed outside at 9:35 a.m.

Placed outside at 9:35 a.m.

Awaiting discovery.

Awaiting discovery.

Our vantage point didn’t allow us to actually see the disappearance itself but any car or truck that pulled up for a stop would clue us in that, yes, somebody was about to have a lucky-find day.

10 a.m. rolls around.

10 a.m. rolls around.

Still waiting

Still waiting

Success Within the Hour

Gone!  Record 35 minutes

Gone! Record 35 minutes

Didn’t take long.

At the 35-minute mark, a white truck up pulled up, the owner hopped out, hoisted the tiller cultivator into his pick-up and sped away.

My efforts proved worthwhile, Mom had her empty garage corner, and a local Marshallonian was able to tool home with a prized possession, all for free.

As the saying goes: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

Now that’s a victorious morning for everyone!

Until my next entry, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your day.






About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
This entry was posted in A Visit Home to America, Smalltown American Life, Travel, Visit To The States. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Small town Recycling: “One Man’s Junk is Another Man’s Treasure”

  1. Kate Lindsay says:

    Another story told well…….

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