Skip to Content

My First Dumpster Dive

I received a sinister-sounding e-mail over the weekend from someone I've never met. The writer said he owned some residential properties in a tough part of town, and someone had put Allonhill's "refuse" in the dumpster. It was hard to say whether he was alerting me to something he thought I should know, or accusing me of something.

It turns out that it wasn't all that far from where I live, so I drove over to take a look before I called him.  I found the dumpster behind a small stretch of houses in an area otherwise full of body shops, warehouses and empty lots. The alley was walled with chain-link and barbed-wire fences.

I left my car running, partly wondering if that was especially smart or especially stupid. I took a look and, sure enough, there among the plastic garbage bags, pizza boxes and swarming flies were pressboards baring variations of Allonhill's logo. These were initial drafts that a freelancer had done for us when I first formed the business last year. The artist must have lived there and recently cleaned out his home office.

I tried to reach the boards, but I couldn't with my feet on the ground. And that's how I discovered where the term "dumpster dive" comes from. Up I went, leaning forward at the waist, reaching as far as I could, teetering with ankles in the air and nose near the pizza box. I got them and left, thankful to emerge no worse for wear.

When I called the property owner back, he told me he was impressed. He said people illegally dump on his property all the time and nobody has ever come to fetch the trash, let alone in a tennis skirt and driving a sports car. Apparently, he caught a glimpse of me during my dive (from above - nothing scandalous!).

The owner was really very nice, and I was relieved there wasn't a security breach of some sort going on involving Allonhill correspondence or records. I was impressed with how clean his dumpster was, too.

The lesson of the story: if you own your own business, lots of things will happen that you must handle. If you're like me, you don't have a list of people you can call at a moment's notice and expect to go check out a dumpster, or some other activity that's outside anyone's job description. Sometimes you just have to do it yourself.