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Garbage Collectors Share the Strangest Things They Found on the Job

Garbage Collectors Share the Strangest Things They Found on the Job October 15, 2021Leave a comment

Garbage collectors play an important role because without them, the world would be complete mayhem. They often work in pairs and ride in the back of the garbage truck, picking up trash bags and throwing them into the trash compactor before moving on to the next neighborhood. But while most people’s garbage is stinky and uninteresting, some collectors have found some of the strangest things in people’s trash.

A Dead Horse

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Reddit user Up2KnowGood and their team thought they could ignore a dead horse left on top of a dumpster, but later discovered that the horse had come back to haunt them.

“I was a sanitary engineer back in the early 90s. One of our regular stops was a veterinary clinic. We arrived one hot summer day to find a DEAD HORSE on top of the dumpster. We said "screw that, we aren't taking a horse!" ... So we pushed the corpse off the dumpster, emptied the container and went on about our business. The next week, we get back to the vet to find the horse inside the dumpster. Bloated like a creepy caricature of its former self. Because its INSIDE the dumpster, we decide to take it. We empty the dumpster into the hopper and start to compact the corpse. Suddenly there is POP, followed by a juicy gurgling sound. Before we new what was happening, it was raining horse gore, I swear for a moment it blotted out the sun. To date this is the single most disgusting event of my life.

TL;DR Packed a large bloated horse. The pressure while being compacted caused an explosion of horse gore.”

A Live Grenade

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Half-eaten food and miscellaneous items were the least of Reddit user Adski673’s worries mainly because they had found an undetonated grenade that was still very active.

“I worked at my local recycling plant sorting different materials into different bins on a fast moving conveyer belt. Most people don't know what can and cannot be recycled so we often found lots of rubbish to sort through. We would often find dead pets, money, dirty needles, half eaten food (once a whole turkey was thrown out).

By far the best thing we found was a old, unexploded grenade. The whole plant was shutdown until the bomb squad came. They ended up taking the grenade to the tip (massive piles of rubbish, I don't know what you call it in America) and blew it up. Chunks of rubbish went everywhere... and the smell, oh god the smell! It'll outlast religion.”

Sample Meds and Foreign Coins

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Banks must hate foreign coins almost as much as clinics hate sample medications, because they’re always dumping both according to Reddit user angrymom789.

“I'm a janitor, so I think that works? Anyways I mostly clean banks and clinics. Everyday banks would throw away Canadian and Mexican coins, like hundreds of them. Maybe they hate Canadians and Mexicans? They would also throw away a ton of information of clients, like name, address, copies of drivers license and SSN. I mean WTF. Why would just throw that s*** away like that without shredding it? Anyways I took time to shred it for them. And at clinics they would throw away tons of medical equipment whenever they got new ones. Like they threw away some heart rate monitor that wasn't even old. They also threw away tons of medications that were used as samples, not even expired. And they also threw away a mini fridge, which I use now.”

A Homeless Guy and Some Dead Chicken

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Finding a series of dead chickens in the dumpster was bad enough. But Reddit user GolfPr0 was startled when a live human suddenly jumped out of one of the garbage containers.

“In my younger days I owned a large waste hauling company. Tons of stories over a 20 year career.

Scariest: When I first started I would run the routes if someone needed off or was sick. I was running our front end loader one night and was dumping a McDonalds at 2:30 in the morning. After I opened the gate I climbed back in my truck and was just starting to raise the can to dump it and a very surprised homeless guy jumped out of the container. Had it been another half second I wouldn't have seen him, as he would have been out of my sight line, and he would have been dumped and compacted. We hauled some chicken farms and butcher shops so you always had dead animals to contend with. Nothing like starting the day dumping 40 cy of dead chickens.

Free Stuff: all the time. Our company did a lot of specialty work. One time we were contracted to get rid of 20 trailer loads of leather furniture, because it had mold on some pieces. Everyone at work that day got a free leather sofa and loveseat. We also hauled a nationwide coffee roaster. FDA is pretty nasty. So we would get perfectly good packaged coffee all the time. If even the shrink wrap was damaged, they would throw out a whole skid. I don't think we ever paid for coffee. Almost everyday, someone was coming in with something. We also did all the USPS locations. If you wrote "return to sender" on most stuff it went into the dumpster. I had over 10,000 cd's from Columbia House at one point.

We do alot of estate cleanups (when someone's parents die) The parents typically save all this stuff thinking their kids will want it one day, but they don't. By the time mom and dad die, the kids are 60 ish and have all the stuff they need. They usually just throw out all that stuff and sell the house for whatever money is left. In their haste they throw out alot of good stuff. When dumping a load one day a small wooden box opened up and was filled with about 50 silver dollars form 1922. I still use one today to mark my ball in golf.”

Move Out Piles

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Reddit user Phantom Scarecrow had found what they called in the trash collecting business as move-out piles. And they made a killing selling some of these items on eBay.

“Weirdest- A whole, skinned sheep head. A GIGANTIC, filthy dildo. Entire rooms full of furniture. (We called them "Move-out piles", because it looked like the people were moving out of the house and just threw everything away.) 18 large trash bags of brand-name clothing, at the same house, three weeks in a row. (18 each week.)

Coolest- a big box of brand-new Rolling Rock Beer embossed metal signs, which I sold on Ebay for almost $400. Two beautiful 1950s pastel-colored sewing machines, one turquoise, one coral pink, with all their accessories. 12 working VCRs (This was in 2002, so DVD players were taking over).

My loader, a month before I started driving, found two antique baseball cards. They were the small ones from cigarette packs, and were worth several thousand dollars. He found them in the hopper, so he had no way of knowing which house they had come from, and no one ever claimed them.”

Used Adult Themed Dolls and Miscellaneous Items

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Reddit user MasterPip didn’t let anything go to waste. So, what some considered to be nothing more than trash, this collector scavenged, but there were some items that were definitely not worth using twice.

“I've picked up all sorts of things. I use to make about $400 a month just picking up scrap aluminum/brass/copper to sell. Until they cracked down on it.

I've gotten a 32 inch flat screen. Sound cable had disconnected inside the TV. Took 5 minutes to fix. Worked perfectly fine. Even came with a remote! lol. I've gotten new shoes, lamps, vacuums that were just clogged, fans, tools, etc... All sorts of things. Then the craziest was a cardboard box (when I was scrapping I would frequently look in boxes) with several deflated used sex dolls and an empty "anal butt plug starter kit" package. Worst part was I knew the late 70's man who lived there. Never could look at him the same way again lol.”

An Electronics Stash

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Reddit user HiFiMetal64 can thank their collection of electronics and even the place they live in to people who dumped their electronics and more.

“I run my towns transfer station and recycling center. The amount of perfectly good or even brand new stuff I see thrown out daily is absurd. I collect and restore antique radios so one of my personal favorites was a Thomas Edison phonograph from 1906. I have a 55" Samsung in my living room I got from work guy wanted a smart TV and just tossed the old one. I even have a decent size trailer, because some guy couldn't be bothered to sell it. Also the money you save is amazing if you have mechanical and/or electrical knowledge. I've never had to buy lawn mowers or snow blowers weed whackers, etc. even things like shovels garden tools hoses. Microwave dies? One will come in at work in a few days. It sounds horrible to say but when someone's parent dies is the best cause they just bring all their stuff to the dump.”

A Severed Head and Body Parts

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Reddit user Sesstuna didn't work for the Silver State Disposal in Nevada, but her old man did and what he found was a collection of body parts that made his skin crawl.

“When my dad was young and I was a baby, he worked at Silver State Disposal in Nevada. We lived in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, until mid-1988 (dodged a serious bullet by moving east a month prior to the PEPCON explosion).

My old mans' role there was primarily as a diesel mechanic, but on days where the collectors wouldn't show up, he would get some overtime in and help with collection.

So one morning he's getting his time and a half in, they are collecting in a large development, very high end homes. And he always phrases this next part the exact same way:

"I found a leg in the fourth trash can I opened, and I thought someone had thrown out a prosthetic, it just didn't look real. It wasn't until I found her head 10 minutes later that I realized I had thrown away a severed leg."

The driver of the truck contacted their dispatcher, who in turn contacted the police & sent out additional teams to search the trash cans. Seven pieces were found; (dad found right leg/head), torso, arms x2, left leg, and a stray breast.

Tl,dr; my old man found a severed head. Update: Talked to my dad about this briefly via text, he mentioned one of the police officers on the scene found one of the legs in a state of decay and vomited everywhere. And he says the head belonged to an Asian female, and was covered in "whorish makeup". I'll be visiting him this weekend, will update again if anything interesting comes up.

And to clear things up: They find bodies in the trash cans of Las Vegas on a regular basis. The most recent was like, 3 months ago. CSI doesn't get these stories from any sort of creative writing.”

A Live Kitten

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An anonymous Redditor shared how their dad found all kinds of stuff while driving a recycling truck. But there was one item that gave him “paws” for concern.

“My dad drove a recycling truck. He found a lot of stuff on his runs. I haven't asked him what the craziest thing was but one thing he told me a long time ago sticks out in my mind.

At one stop, he heard something in a garbage bag. He saw the bag moving. So he ripped it open and found a kitten. He took the kitten with him. He put it in his lunch box (left it open, obviously). I don't know how young the poor thing was. This was so long ago though, that's the only part of the story that I remember. I don't know if he brought it to the shelter or a vet or a friend. Not sure how it turned out.

It wasn't the first time he rescued an animal on the job. It's sort of related to my story above but not to the main question. When my dad was a cab driver, a man got in with a bag and told him to drive to the canal. Somewhere along the way, my dad realized there were cats in the bag (meowing, I guess). He stopped the car and told the guy to leave the bag and get out. The guy was going to drop the cats in the canal. My dad ended up bringing the cats home. He found homes for all of them.”

A Human Finger and Body Excretions

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Reddit user hothotsauce is glad that he wasn’t his college classmate, who had to work at a family dump over the summer and found a human body part and other creepy things he wish he hadn’t seen or smelled. 

“Had a college classmate who worked summers at his uncle's dump on Staten Island. He HATED the job so much but three months paid off a year of school tuition/living. He found a human finger once. Lots of bodily excretions in containers. Bags of brand new (possibly unsold) clothing.

He also got paid $20 per big black garbage bag to separate recyclables out of it (which he insisted the smell/sight isn't worth the money). How many he got through in a day, I don't know.”

A Family Photo Album With a Knife in the Middle

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Reddit user VoiceCrack will never forget their summer job at a landfill, or rather, a particular item that held beautiful memories for a family. However, the person that dumped the album was obviously having a bad day.

“I worked as a summer student at a landfill "directing traffic." One day, a customer came in and asked for a hole to be dug as he wanted something to be buried. He was driving an all black Cadillac with tinted windows and some seriously nice rims. The somewhat lazy machine operator was reluctant to dig a hole as it required switching machines, so he offered the animal pit instead. Half-expecting a dead body, I watched as he threw out what appeared to be a book. Once he drove off, I held my breath and peered into the animal pit, only to find a (presumably) family photo album with a knife lodged right in the middle. It still gives me the creeps.”

An Engagement Ring and Some Condoms

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Reddit user YouKnowABitJonSnow shared a story about a friend’s dad, who discovered evidence of a marriage proposal that clearly did not go as expected.

“A friend whose dad was a garbage man (distant I know but still), once told me he found an engagement ring and a pack of condoms in a small disposable bag, he always wanted to know the story behind it.”

Expensive iPhones and Time Pieces

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According to Reddit user GoodnightKevin, his Irish father-in-law didn’t need to go Christmas shopping one year after making an interesting discovery during one of his trash rounds.

“My father in law is a bin man here in Northern Ireland. He is forever bringing home stuff he finds on his rounds, most recently a Tag Heuer watch and more iPhones than you could shake a stick at.

Guy even has a huge jar filled with coins he finds – all the guys he work with dump any loose change or notes they come across into it throughout the year, and they split it between them at Christmas.”

A Bag Full of Arcade Tokens

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One person’s arcade trash is another person’s treasure, at least that’s what Reddit user theoptionexplicit realized when their friend’s dad, who was a trash collector, found a bag of arcade trash.

“This was in the 90s... my friend's dad found a big sack full of arcade tokens. Not sure how it is now, but back then the tokens were mostly standardized. My friend was in heaven.”

Bio Hazard Waste

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Hospitals generally pay disposal fees to have their bio hazard waste removed from the hospital. But Reddit user Slambusher learned that not all hospitals follow this protocol.

" I ran a large trash hauling company in south Georgia for 3 years. The amount of sketchy things thrown away is innumerable. I can't tell you how many times hospitals threw their bio waste out to save on disposal fees. It got so bad the landfill ended up reporting them. That's just the ones we saw who knows how many weren't caught.

Wasn't criminal but should have been was the amount of good things WalMart and other retailers threw away. You return something due to scratch etc and it doesn't sell they have to throw it away. Tools, tvs, computers, clothes, toys etc some not even out of the box. All of it in working condition but they had to throw it out to write it off is what I was told.”

An 1864 Choir Book

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Most garbage collectors don’t find anything worth singing about on the job, but Reddit user mvincent17781 certainly did during a routine pickup.

“I worked at a landfill for one summer and didn't find anything grotesque but did find a choir book from 1864 in a box in the dumpster. Took that for myself.”

Guns and Antiques, Oh My

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Reddit user steve2058 never found anything as scary as ritual sacrifices or even a dead body, but he did discover a series of guns and antique artifacts. But that wasn’t the weirdest part of his story.

“Never found any body parts in 35 years, but guns and antiques and was requested by the ATF to pickup the trash at one home and pull around the corner and let the "Special Agent in Charge" take the trash bags and put them in his black Chrysler 300 undercover car. This happened for several weeks in a row, never did find out what they were looking for.”

A Religious Sacrifice

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Some might say that what Reddit user 98FordContour found was something eerily similar to an “X-Files” after stumbling on a religious sacrifice and some blood.

“NYC sanitation worker here. I have seen just about everything you can imagine. Dead animals such as dogs and cats are thrown out like every day trash. We are required to just take them and the police are not notified at all. One time, my partner and I saw huge amounts of blood leaking from multiple trash bags that we had just thrown into the truck. We called our supervisor and he looked at it and just said keep going. It could have been anything. I have also seen plenty of drug paraphernalia being thrown out. Thousands of little plastic bags, scales and plenty of white "powder" all over the place. one single incident sticks with me. Me and my partner were called to a location that was far away from our regular route one day. We met our supervisor at the location. I ask him what's up? He points to a tree we were standing near. He says look up. I look up and see a huge mass hanging in the tree about 20 feet off the ground. I couldn't really make out what it was but it was dark and about 3X3 feet big. Turns out, it was a huge pile of dead rats all tied together in a big mass. The police and fire department showed up about 5 minutes later. The fire department had to use a ladder to get to the branch and cut it down. When it hit the ground with a thud, the smell was so bad that us, the PD and FD all backed up very quickly. Me and my partner had the pleasure of grabbing this thing and tossing it into the truck. There had to be between 50-75 dead rats on this thing. We asked the police what it was all about and they said most likely a form of religious sacrifice. I've been working for the sanitation department for 14 years and that had to be the nastiest thing I have ever seen. I'll never forget the smell. Forgot to mention that it was probably about 90 degrees that day and God knows how long that thing was hanging around.”

An Artificial Limb and Dead Animals

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Whenever Reddit user weedandguitars wasn’t busy finding weapons and cannabis, he was busy finding artificial limbs and something that came out of a horror movie for animals.

“I used to manage garbage men in Oakland. Routinely found dead animals, remnants of large marijuana harvests, and weapons. Once we found a rejected prosthetic limb.

Also, pretty regularly, the FBI will have a trash company pick up the trash of someone under investigation so they can go through it.

I spent some years in the trash/recycling industry. I remember a guy at a metal recycling center trying to cash in bronze grave headstones. He was arrested.”

WWI and WWII Grave Marker Medallions

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Reddit user londongarbageman rarely found anything interesting in other people’s garbage, except for that one time when they found metal grave markers from WWI and WWII.

“The only thing I brought to the police's attention were a bunch of brass WWI and WWII grave marker medallions I found in the recycle bins. Hopefully they went back to where they belonged.”

Parts of a Meth Lab

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One time, a group of garbage collectors heard a terrible explosion in the back of their truck. A day later, they called their supervisor, Reddit user Moosepondvacation, to describe what had caused the explosion.

“Former Sanitation Department Supervisor - My guys called me frantic one day after an explosion in the hopper of the truck. Thankfully no one was injured, but I called the fire department and police always come on fire calls too. Turns out they had been watching the house we were in front of because the guy was cooking meth. He threw away some of the ingredients and the pressure when it compacted caused it to explode. The best part was the fact that the guy sat out front watching the show in a bathrobe. He eventually got dressed and came back out. When he was arrested he had drugs in his pants. Apparently he didn't own any pants without drugs in the pockets.”

A Corpse

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According to Reddit user tiorted726, garbage collectors can find all kinds of creepy things, even a dead body.

“I wasn't a driver but a mechanic on garbage trucks for a large municipality. In my 4 years in that department we had to dump fully loaded trucks on the ground 2 times and spread out the load looking for a body; found one once. I decided not to look at it, I think I made the right choice.”

A Wife

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Reddit user homestead1111 was sifting through a garbage truck when he found a woman there. She didn’t get dumped there, but she was certainly doing a lot of dumping. And yet neither of them realized this encounter was going to change their lives forever.

“I found my wife in a pile of garbage while working on a garbage truck.

I was working being trained as a garbage man and one day a women was throwing out way to much good stuff, boxes of books and I could see she was trying to fill a car and mini van, so I figured she was moving and having to sacrifice good stuff. I talked to her and offered to come back later and help her move so she didn't have to throw away so much stuff, and it ended up being a story that her husband left her for her best friend, and they moved in together, and she couldn't afford the townhouse anymore as she was undergoing cancer treatment.

We got married one year later. I like to say I found her in the trash and fixed her up, but the truth is it is opposite. I was the trash she fixed up I.”

A Dog

Flickr / Ted Murphy / CC 2.0

Reddit user Glove_Compartment’s dog was trash. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that it wasn’t cute. It was just really stinky given where it was found. 

“My father was a garbage man when I was born. I don’t remember because I was like 3 months old. But my first dog was in the trash. My dad stopped. Picked up a box and heard some shuffling on the inside and there were two puppies. My dad kept one and the driver kept the other. They were brother and sister (my dad assumed). He kept the male and named him Jasper. He was literally my best friend growing up. I had him for 13 years and my dad tells me the job was worth it just for that dog. He called the police and animal control on the residence but doesn’t know what happened after that. All I know is I’m 37 and still love that dog so much. I’m so thankful my dad saved him and his sister.”

A "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" Movie Cardboard Cutout

Regency Enterprises

Reddit user stu0027
received a couple of honks driving down the road after rescuing Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie from the trash and placing them on the side of the truck. But it’s not what you think.

“I found a cardboard cutout from the Mr and Mrs Smith movie release when it was in theaters. I put Mr Smith on one side of the truck and Mrs Smith on the other side. Got a few fun honks going down the road with a gorgeous Angelina Jolie on the back of a trash truck.”

Lego Bricks

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Reddit user u/theofiel didn’t have to go begging their parents to buy them some more Lego bricks from the toy store because they already had plenty thanks to their garbage collecting dad.

“My dad worked as a garbage man and he took home a helluva lot of legoes. That was really fun to play with. He also took home a bakelite pencil sharpener that I still use today.”

Dollhouse

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Reddit user u/harpejjist was one happy kid growing up, especially after their dad gifted them a beautiful dollhouse. But he didn’t get it from the toy store or from Amazon.
 

“My dad was at the dump dropping off construction materials from a home remodel and found a beautiful hand-made dollhouse lying there. All it took was cleaning and a little paint and it has been loved by many kids in the family since.”

Google Glass

Flickr / Loïc Le Meur / CC 2.0

Reddit user u/Stanchion_Excelsior never expected to own a Google Glass, which is a pricey optical-head-mounted display designed in the shape of a pair of glasses. Little did he know that all he had to do was look in the trash.

“Valuable: picked a pair of Google Glass at the salvage centre. Sold for $600. That was a great find.”

Trashy Clothes

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Reddit user Kch1986 never had to worry about ever running out of clothes. Then again, they might not have been too popular in school if they had told their classmate where their dad had gotten their clothes from.

“My dad worked at a landfill for most of my childhood and my brother and I both got into related companies that directly dealt with landfills for a while. One of the most common things I remember hearing about and seeing all the time were clothing with minor irregularities that had to be thrown away by said clothing company. It was stuff like Roxy, Vans and other stuff you'd see at places like Tillys or similar clothing store. One of my old coworkers families basically were clothed their whole life from this type of clothing being dumped. The clothing was clean or could be cleaned to a decent level that the clothing was fine to wear. It was dumb stuff like small rip, missing zipper or some other weird thing they couldn't sell it that way. Everyone at the landfill was basically in on the scheme. When the truck with the clothing pulled up to the fee booth, someone would radio people at the dump site and it was like a pack of vultures, everyone on the site would swarm the truck as soon as everything was dumped out of the truck.”

Playstation 4

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Some people have all the luck, especially trash collectors who are into gaming when they’re not busy collecting trash. Just ask Reddit user PPPPepetheFrogggggg’s friend. 

“My friend found a PS4 (excellent condition) and a brand new controller still in the box”

Apartment Trash

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Reddit user FRUIT_FETISH doesn’t need to go on Amazon or even to a flea market to find a bargain on things for their apartment. As a garbage collector, they have found things to accentuate their place free of charge.

“Finally something I can contribute too! I do trash at apartments. In the year I've worked the job, I've found and kept:

-a couch

-2 desk chairs

-a floor lamp

-deck furniture

-a TV stand

-my cat

-various decorations I've given to my mom

Some things I've sold

-a bike, $40

-some outdoor vases, $30

-a bed frame, $50

-an original xbox with at least 80 games all in a box, $20 (to my friend that collects old video games)

But yeah, it's crazy what people throw away.”

A Kitty and Some Skis

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Reddit user Ulrich_The_Elder didn't need to go to an animal shelter to find a new kitty or a store to buy himself a pair of skis and some brylcreem hair styling product. He just had to look for these items in other people’s trash.

“I worked as a garbage man in 1972. A small stray cat jumped into the back of the hopper to look for food. I took him home and named him saigon. This was the best thing. Second best thing someone threw out an old pair of skis. There was snow on the ground and me and the other guy each took a ski and stood on it and held onto the truck, great fun. Third best we found an entire case of "brylcream" (look it up) and me and the other guy had brylcream fights all day, total mess (I stripped off before going into my house after work). Worst things a garbage can that had live coals in it that started our truck on fire.

Trading Cards

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Reddit user TheeElite was lucky to have a best friend who’s dad was a trash collector because it was thanks to him that his trading card collection became even more awesome.

“In the early 2000's my best friends dad was a garbage man. I used to hang out at their house a lot and i remember him finding uncut sheets of holographic dragon ball z trading cards in the trash and bringing them back. They were super dope to see.” 

Brand New BMW

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Reddit user MindYourOwnBiscuits- isn’t a garbage collector, but kind of felt like one every time they were hired to clean apartments in a college town. Fortunately, they found a new way to get to work in an apartment complex.

“Worked cleaning apartments one summer in a college town. Foreign students are notorious for leaving lots of valuables behind. The most outlandish item I came across was a brand new BMW that they left abandoned in the complex parking lot.”

BMX Bike and Nintendo 64 Games

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Reddit user vickt was a lucky kid to have a dad as a trash collector because thanks to him, he was gifted a cool new bike and some games to keep him busy for hours.

“My dad was a trash man when I was growing up. He would always be bringing cool stuff home to us. He used to always say that the "poor" neighborhoods had the most trash and they threw away literally everything.

The two best ones that I can think of was a brand new BMX bike and like 20 Nintendo 64 games that he found at a video rental store.”

But it wasn’t all fun and games either.

A Real-Life Arm

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While Reddit user vickt’s dad did find some interesting things, one of his co-workers found what he thought was a dummy arm. But it later turned out to be the real thing.

“Also once at the transfer station one of his co-workers found a "dummy arm" in the big pile of trash. He pulled it and it ended up being a dead guy, the police later determined that it was a homeless person that got picked up and died when the trash truck compacted him.”

Old Philips Color TVs

Flickr / Chris Bloom / CC 2.0

The 1980s was a busy era for Reddit user gozba
who was busy discovering old Philips color television sets. But while most people would have kept them, he decided to do something more noble with them. 

Embroidery Thread and Fabric

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While sifting through items during a house clearance, Reddit user vickylaa found more sewing material than she ever imagined.

“We sometimes have to do house clearances at work (dead people with no family and the house is to be sold). Lot of the time stuff isn't worth the time it takes to sell it so we get to keep stuff that's gonna be thrown out, I've gotten so much fabric, embroidery thread, all sorts of sewing/dress making materials, I will never have to buy another buttons in my lifetime, I like to think the old ladies it used to belong to would be glad to know it was gonna be used.”

A Bunch of Books

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Although Reddit user infinite-insecurity wasn’t a garbage collector, he did have an interesting story about Turkish garbage collectors who found good use for the thousands of books they had saved from being incinerated.

“Not a garbage collector, but here's a cool story about how garbage collectors in Ankara, Turkey gathered a bunch of books that were thrown away. They then bring them back to the depot where there's a library's worth of books now. They've saved about 20,000 books from the incinerator.

One person's trash, is indeed another's treasure: It's always trash can, and never trash cannot.”

A Limited Edition Bike

Flickr / Billie Grace Ward / CC 2.0

Reddit user PsychedelicWeaselGun0’s brother was clearing a client’s basement when he found a bike that turned out to be limited edition. And then he almost fainted when he discovered how expensive it was.

“My little brother was emptying out a client’s basement and everything was going to be thrown away so my brother was told to keep anything he wanted. He saw a nice looking bike and took it. Turns out it was a Dahon mu p8 30th anniversary limited edition and in perfect condition. From what I found on it, it goes for over $4K.”

A Diamond

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Reddit user lexigoober had heard of the saying “a diamond in the rough patch.” They just never imagined that it would ever apply to them, or rather their grandfather, who found a shiny jewel that was worth thousands.

“My grandfather use to work for the city garage and would repair alot of the trucks, including the garbage truck. He once found a jewelry box that had cheap jewelry in it but he noticed there was a lose stone that looked like a diamond so he kept it. 20 years later he finally took it to a jewelry store to see if it was real. It was and it was worth 3,000 dollars so he made it into a new wedding ring for my gram.”

A Lane Cedar Chest

Facebook / Everything But The House

Reddit user auntiepink was helping their dad clean out some lady’s garage and found a chest that she was just dying to get rid of. But auntiepink had other plans for the lane cedar item.

“A Lane cedar chest. I was helping my dad clean out this lady's garage and she said as long as we were there, we might as well take that, too. She said she always hated the smell of cedar but her husband wouldn't let her get rid of it and now that he was dead, she was sending it on its way!

The veneer was never in great shape but it still keeps my wool items safe. I've had it for over 30 years now.”

Fancy Silverware

Flickr / Anika / CC0

Reddit user Jedimasteryony's brother through he had found two bowling bags full of bowling balls, but it turns out that someone had dumped a collection of silverware that was worth a lot more than the original owner realized.

A Throne for a King

Flickr/studio tdes/CC 2.0

Garbage collectors aren’t the only people who find things in trash. Just ask Reddit user deadlyturtle22
who found a comfy “throne” to sit in while he played his Playstation.

“When I was a kid I found a couch. It wasn't very big, but thats why it was so great. 10 year old me was able to carry it all the way home by myself. (About a block and a half.) This was before kids having cell phones were huge so I didn't call my parents about it first and they were at the store anyways. So I took the couch home and put it in my room. It was pretty dated... Made of some material I've never encountered again so far, but I thought I was THE S***. I had a whole couch in my room. How many 10 year olds had couches in their room? Well my parents came home and clearly weren't happy, but given I carried it up to the second story and got it into my room they let me keep it. (My down stairs neighbor helped me.)

I felt like a king. I had a couch. I had a big box TV for my play station. I had it all. Simpler times.” 

Go-Kart and Trampoline

Flickr / Andy Rogers / CC 2.0

Reddit user paulippolito wasn’t a garbage collector, but their dad was. He also did clean-outs as a side gig which gave him the opportunity to gift their kid some pretty nifty items, including a go-kart.  

“My father was a garbage man who also did clean-outs for homes and businesses, where they'd rip apart the entire building and throw everything out in their dumpsters. He worked on a ton of really massive houses, some worth 10s of millions of dollars, one was worth 40 million and wasn't even the permanent residence.

Best things I got as a kid: A pretty much unused trampoline with a net and everything.

A go-kart that my dads friend was able to fix up and we used all the time (I live on a dead end).

And once he cleaned out a deli that was closing down, and we no joke had unlimited Snapples and Sodas of every flavor for almost a year. I'd drink the Snapples while out on the trampoline. I used the hell out of all 3 of those things in my childhood.”

A Headless Deer Carcass and Crystallized Picric Acid

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Reddit user Moldy_slug found all kinds of weird stuff, some of which could have blown up in his face literally. But there was one item that he thought was a dead human, but turned out to be something else instead.

“Oh man, my time to shine! I’ve been working at a waste transfer station (“garbage dump”) for many years.

The worst I’ve seen (just garbage, not counting stuff brought to the hazmat department):

A freezer stuffed with a skinned, rotting, headless deer carcass. We nearly called the cops before we realized it wasn’t human.

Used needles. The worst being a tie between “porcupine couch” and the lady who literally handed me a paper bag full of syringes she found during a park cleanup.

Large container of old crystallized picric acid. Bomb squad had to deal with that one.”

A Nazi Enigma Machine

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A friend of Reddit user Darkpasta made a chilling discovery indeed. It was a device once used by the Nazis and it was worth a whole lot of money. 

“My good friend who used to work at a recycling plant found an Enigma machine. That's an encryption device the Nazis used. It was worth like 10.000 dollars. He also found the wooden box for another one, that had been used as a bait box. Edit: He still has it, and both wooden boxes too. I won't facilitate a sale. And that ten dollar joke is killer, dudes.”

Furniture, a Boat, and a High-End Laptop

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Of course, there were days that Reddit user Moldy_slug found items that didn’t actually creep him out. In fact, there were times when he found items that allowed him to furnish his place, surf the internet, and go sailing.

“The best: a high end laptop in perfect condition except for a tiny crack on the lcd panel. Easy DIY repair that took $40 and 5 minutes, thing would’ve cost $1.5K new enough brand new furniture to literally furnish my whole apartment a high end military grade inflatable boat, brand new.”

Lawnmowers and Speakers

Flickr / James Case / CC 2.0

Not only did Reddit user cannonrecneps find some awesome surround sound speakers in people’s trash, but he also found a couple of lawnmowers that he refurbished and sold for some extra cash

“I live in an area where there are many wealthy people. I’m the one that will take peoples trash, well not so much now because I’ve learned that less is more but things I’ve found- Perfect 5 channel surround with wireless rear speakers- now in my garage Several almost working riding lawnmowers. Usually need about $50 and some work and then I sell for 500-1000. Nice Yamaha kids gas 4 wheeler. Couldn’t get the truck there fast enough. Plastic roller coaster that both my kids played on for many years and gave us many memories. But after a while I started to get why people do it. It’s fun to see people excited about something free that they will use.

So for a lot of things I will either put by the street and people will come ask if it’s really free or I will post it for sale and we will negotiate a price and then when they get here I will tell them they can have it. That way it’s something that someone really wants. I had a nice TV stand that this Mexican dude showed up for, we had agreed on $150, he borrowed a truck from a family member and drove over an hour for it. He had neck tattoos (I have some too but they were covered I say that to say I don’t judge people for tattoos but he definitely looked like a tough dude) and when I told him he could have it he didn’t understand why I would do that but when he finally figured out it was just because, he got emotional and wanted a hug. That s*** had me floating for like a month. Pay it forward if you can. You never know who’s day or week you’re gonna make.”

First Bike and Some Books

Flickr/Jukka Zitting/CC 2.0

Reddit user ReadontheCrapper might not have gotten the chance to ride their own bike or read some amazing book titles had it not been for their beloved garbage collector who scoured the trash to find some interesting goodies for them.

“Grew up a small town so everyone knew everyone. Our garbage man (Lee) would regularly cull out items for us because he knew my dad would tinker on them. Lee gave me my first bike, which only needed to be painted, and so so many books.

He passed a few years ago. When I saw the notice I called up my sister and we had a bit of a nostalgic cry about what a nice man he was to us kids.”