Thinking trashy thoughts

Some journalists gain access to Air Force One, industry parties and early movie screenings. But a few years ago, my press pass granted me admittance to the grand opening of the town dump. It’s cool, I’ll let your envy sink in for a minute…

Annnnnd, we’re back.

Juan Valdez himself could have come to my house and poured me a cup of coffee that morning, but I still wouldn’t have been motivated about my assignment to document how folks were feeling about the new site, which happened to be a whole 1/4 mile from the old one. Then I met Bettie, a 61-year-old vibrant force of a woman who had been working with the trash center for more than a decade. She might as well have been welcoming me to a housewarming.

Besides helping people haul their garbage to the proper receptacle five days a week, Bettie also addressed all the patrons as “Hon” and often bought doughnuts and coffee for the ones who stopped by early in the morning. During the holidays, she was known for setting up a Christmas tree on site, where she’d rescue other people’s discarded, but useful items from the dump and literally turn them into treasures for other locals.

I was reminded of Bettie the other day when I came across this story. A trio of “polite graffiti artists” wallpapered a couple of Dumpters in New York City as part of a mission to beautify objects that were seemingly ugly. They wanted to make people smile or, at the very least, look up.

Rob Bennett for The New York Times

I think we’re all aware of the things in our lives we could eliminate to make our health, relationships, careers and days better, but sometimes the bigger challenge is accepting the things we cannot change — welcoming what we can learn from those fixtures and finding ways to at least wallpaper the immovable “Dumpsters.”

I had a friend who broke her leg last week days before her roller derby team’s season opener. She could be cursing the Goddess for this unfortunate turn of events, but instead she said she’s looking forward to finding out what lesson her body has for her during the rehabilitation process.

Another friend recently moved to a new city expecting to start a job that had been promised to her only to find out it was an empty offer. Though I’m sure she let some cuss words fly at hearing the news, she also quickly turned her energy toward polishing her resume. There’s a job out there she knows she’s meant to have, so she’s not going to waste any more time lamenting the one denied her.

Thanks to Bettie, the intervention artists of New York and these ladies, I’ve been inspired to think trashy thoughts this week. I’ve got a few Dumpsters in need of some wallpaper.

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