Not long ago I encountered an anarchical scene on the streets of Budapest. It seemed that the city had been bombed and the contents of the buildings were thrown all over the streets. The desperate city dwellers were digging through the wreckage in search of anything valuable or useful.
Read Night Of The Living Garbage here if you don’t remember.
The actual story was far less dramatic. There’s a city program where the garbage men will pick up anything left on the curb on a specified date. This means that it’s a perfect time to get rid of any unwanted items that you can’t fit in your trash can.
I saw old sofas, tables, chairs, pictures, blankets, pillows, cabinets, statues, plants, and tons of other things. Some of it had obvious reasons to be disposed of (like a table with two broken legs), but others offered less explanation (like an office chair in perfect condition).
Because it was basically free junk, plenty of people were digging through it. In the heart of a big city, it’s really not very strange to see a big pile of trash lying around. Going along with that, it’s pretty normal to witness people digging through it. It was a little strange to see well-dressed people rummaging around in it, but that’s neither here nor there.
Fast forward to this week. Remember that I said they pick things up on a specified date? That’s because they do it all over the city – on different days. I encountered it in the center a few weeks ago, but now I’m seeing it somewhere else.
My school and my apartment are very close to each other, and they’re towards the outside of the city. This particular neighborhood had it’s pick up day this week, so the trash was piled up. Fortunately, I wasn’t shocked because I was expecting it to happen.
The weird part is how the area had changed. It’s a pretty nice neighborhood, and it usually feels clean and safe. Not this week.
On my way to school a few mornings ago, I passed drunken homeless people wrapped in blankets who were sleeping on old mattresses. Rough looking people were coming around with beat-up vans and worn-out trailers to haul things away. They protected their piles like lions after a kill, and I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear them actually growl at anyone who came too close.
I’ll be glad when the junk leaves and the shady people move onto their next hunting grounds. I think it’s great that the city gives this service because it’s nice to be able to get rid of big things that you can’t use, but it’s a little bit unfortunate that such a convenient thing comes with gross people. What if they bite me? After all, they could be zombies – I’ve seen the movies.
I never thought I’d say it, but I think I’ll escape the outskirts for the safety and cleanliness of the city center.
Hungarian word of the day:
Pronounced ”Tea-s-taw”, this word means ”clean”. Hopefully that’s how the neighborhood will feel when it’s all finished. It would be nice.