As a regular dog walker, bike rider and pedestrian, I spend a lot of time scanning the alleyways and side-yards around my neighborhood. I see a lot of McDonald’s garbage, an insane number of stained mattresses and every so often a strange object worth retrieving. I have a bolt from a Red Line construction project, a small photo of an Asian man in horn rim glasses and tons of random notes and other forms of hastily scribbled communications that keep me entertained.
There’s only one rule to my urban spelunking—If I pick it up, it’s my responsibility to:
A) Keep it
B) Give it away to someone who might like it more than me
C) Throw it away
Usually all is well in my strange little world, but I happened on to an item the other day that threw my whole game off. Gold-framed, designed to hang on a wall or sit proudly on an end table, I found the ultimate piece of crap. Not quite a picture and not quite a plaque, this made-in-China special features a an ode to loved ones called ‘A True Friend’.
I was sitting there with debating my next move early this morning. Garbage can? Giveaway? Craigslist ad? I thought about the Chinese factory that made this piece of crap. And the truck that drove it to the boat that took it across the sea. And the train that picked it up to take it to another truck that drove it to some crap store in Chicago where a guy put it on a shelf where someone actually bought it. All this—only to wind up in my ungrateful hands? What a shame. I actually felt bad for the piece of crap.
I suppose this is a pretty good argument for the simple notion that we should all buy less crap. Spend an extra 3 seconds to consider whether the thing you’re about to possess is really something worth having. And if you find that you “need” whatever it is that you desire, make sure it doesn’t wind up pitched in the little patch of grass outside our apartment.