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One Person’s Trash Is Another Person’s Trick

, , , | Friendly | CREDIT: Internal_Use8954 | September 9, 2021

I moved to this neighborhood about a year and a half ago. I am too cheap to buy new for the most part, so I upcycle and refinish most of my furniture. I do this mostly in my garage, but any spraying I do in the front yard on the mulch.

Most of the neighbors have stopped at some point to welcome me or talk about my projects. A few asked if I take orders. I told them I do, and at a pretty low cost because I don’t do professional quality, but it would have to wait a little bit as I wanted to finish my personal projects first. [Neighbor] across the street asked at one point, and when I gave her my answer, she sort of sniffed and said, “Fine.” That was about a year ago.

A few months ago was the yearly large trash pickup where you can put almost anything on the curb and the city will take it to the dump for you. It’s a great time to pick up new pieces. [Neighbor] had a pile of actually trashed items out. But as I was working in the garage, I saw her lug a console/entry table to the curb. It looked beat up but not broken, and it was one of the pieces I was actually looking for.

I headed over to check it out. It was pretty beat up as I suspected, the finish was scratched to h***, and a pet had chewed one of the legs, but it was a solid piece

Me: “Can I have this?”

Neighbor: “Of course!”

I got my dolly and stashed it in my garage.

It sat in the garage for a few months, but last weekend, I stripped and sanded the piece down and fixed the damage.

Today, I got it out and painted it in the front yard. I’m pretty happy with how it’s going to turn out. Just as I was finishing putting away all the tools and paint, [Neighbor] came marching across the street. I thought she would just admire it, as people like seeing their old trash transformed.

Neighbor: “I’ve decided that I don’t want to give you this table, so I’m going to come get it when it’s done drying.”

Me: “No, you gave it to me, it’s mine, and I’ve put in a fair amount of time and money to refinish it.”

Neighbor: “But it’s miiinnnne! You stole it from me! And I want it back.”

Me:No. It’s now mine. If you want it back, it will be $150.”

Neighbor: “But it’s trash now; you ruined it. I thought you were going to refinish it.”

Me: “Then why do you want it back? And I like it like this; any other refinishing would have taken too long and cost too much.”

Neighbor: “Fine, if you want to keep it, I’ll take $200 for it so I can buy a new one.”

Me: “No, you said I could take it from your trash pile. I even asked you before taking it; it’s mine now.”

Neighbor: “I’ll just come take it while you sleep!”

I usually leave pieces in the yard overnight to dry.

Me: “Fine. I guess I’ll just take it inside now.”

I then grabbed the leg of the table and proceeded to drag it into the garage. [Neighbor] reached out to stop me but recoiled once she realized it was still wet. I pulled it in and waved at her with my now paint-covered hand as the door closed.

It was a bit petty, and my hand is covered in paint — spray paint so it doesn’t come off easily — and I’ll have to redo the leg, but it was worth the look on her face.

Thinking back, I think this might have been her plan all along: get me to take it refinish it and demand it back.