I read an article full of rambling thoughts in the paper several years ago. You remember the paper don’t you? Its that thing you used to read every morning while drinking your coffee before facebook came along…but that’s another story.
Among the questions raised in the article was this… Why is it that at least one or two times a week you see a single tennis shoe on the side of the freeway? Where did the other one go… and how did this one get here? Good questions… but even more interesting to me is finding something on the road that is worth stopping to pick up. I’ve seen mattresses, refrigerators, sofas, ladders, lumber, even a brand new BBQ grille laying on the shoulder of Highway 6 about a mile from a Home Depot store where it had just been purchased. (it still had the sale tag on it) Each item caught my eye and I considered going back to take a closer look, but I didn’t. Until one day I saw the one thing I could not just leave there in the street. A gasoline can.
For some strange reason, I thought “what if its full of gas?” That would be 3 or 4 dollars worth just waiting for someone else to pick up. It appeared to have fallen from a lawn service trailer…and the guy who didn’t secure it before he started driving from one job to the other was probably quite upset when he went to look for it the next time. The container turned out to be over three quarters full of fuel…and I couldn’t let it go to waste.. in fact, I noticed it was already mixed for use in my weedeater… That same can of gas has now powered my weedeater for most of last season and the beginning of this spring’s mowing season.
Now before you start thinking I must be nuts to stop and pick up something valued at 3 or 4 bucks on a freeway, I didn’t. The gas can was on a street in my neighborhood. There was very little traffic and it was a hazard because it was literally in the middle of my lane. Who knows, I may have saved a life…or prevented an accident. Most likely I just frustrated the lawn guy even more when he tried to retrace his route to find the missing can.
Now back to how do those items get there on the side of the freeway? I can actually answer that one from personal experiences.. One happened years ago when we were coming home from a camping trip with friends. They had all their camping gear in one of those backpack looking gizmos that you strapped to the roof of your car. You guessed it, one of the straps broke and the entire contents of the backpack, all of the family’s camping supplies, basically exploded along I-10 near Columbus. I would imagine they might have left an item or two during the cleanup.
A second incident happened to my family as we were leaving town for yet another camping experience. We were pulling onto the Sam Houston Tollway in Southwest Houston pulling our pop-up camper… when someone flagged us down to tell us the door of the trailer was hanging open… After inspecting it, we discovered that a basket of items, some of value…some of sentimental value, was missing… That time I did stop on the side of the toll road to retrieve the items. Many broken and destroyed, but some salvageable… There were some items that we never found including the basket itself. I have to wonder if somewhere there’s another guy like me who occasionally stops to pick things up and puts them in my basket.