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October 7, 2008

Scrap Metal Racket

When I bought this house, it had this big old-school satellite dish on a steel pole out in one of my fields. I never used it, and it finally bothered me enough that I dug it up this summer. I pulled all of the bolts out that I could and sort of disassembled it, but then my interest in it waned.

Lately, I've been thinking we'll have snow pretty soon and it would suck to hit that thing with the four wheeler in the snow so I finally decided to get it out of here. Plus, someone had recently pointed out that the dish was painted cast aluminum, so I figured I'd see what I could get for it at the scrap metal place. Instead of having to pay the dump to take it, I was thinking maybe I could get a little cash out of it and get it out of my field so I'd have more room for doing donuts in the snow this winter.

Robert and I filled the hole in as best we could this past weekend. And yesterday, I loaded the satellite dish and an old engine block onto the 18 foot trailer with a chain fall and a come along.

The trailer is not in good shape. All the lights are smashed out on it and the spare has a hole in it you could stick your hand in. It has no license plate at all. I tie everything down fairly well, which means that there's a reasonable chance that all the scrap will be on the trailer when I get to Denver, but I wouldn't wager any money on it.

I've driving down the road and crap is blowing off of the trailer like crazy...pine cones, pine straw, rocks, dirt...you name it. The smart cars fall back. Like...here's a clue, people. When you see a trailer going down the road and no license plate and crap falling off onto the highway, you need to give that guy a wide berth, OK? This is for your own good. I'm trying to help you here. See?

Today, I towed it all down the hill to a scrap metal place in Denver. I had no clue how much I'd get for it all. If anything. The dish was cast aluminum, which I figured might be worth something. The pole and the back frame of the dish was carbon steel. But the pole had about a cubic yard of concrete poured around the base of the pole. I figured I'd show up and they'd say, "Nah. We don't want this sh1t. Take it to the dump."

And, of course, I'm wondering how they'd unload it all anyway. It took me several hours to get it all loaded on there and tied down. Then, they'd have to weight it, of course.

But instead, I pull up and they weigh my whole rig - Chevy Tahoe plus 18 foot dual axle trailer plus all of the scrap. Guy says, "Go down there - they'll unload the steel. Come back here and reweigh. Then we'll get the aluminum off and weigh it again."

And like...I never even got out of the truck. And I pull forward and spin around and start backing up there truck to where I need to be and there's lots of other trucks and piles of rubbish and crap everywhere that would pop a tire in two shakes of a sheep's tail.

Somehow, I get the trailer backed up where I think I'm supposed to be and this is easily the most dangerous place on earth to be. Trucks turning and backing and people walking around that don't speak English and twisted steel and razor sharp sheet metal in motion everywhere you look.

I take off my little tie downs and they've all come undone and it's a miracle that engine block didn't end up in the windshield of a Prius or something. And I just step back wondering whether they'll take it or how they'll unload it all and this crane thingy swings his boom around toward me and I realize it's some type of electromagnetic deal on a boom and he lowers it toward my trailer and the engine block jumps into the air like a salmon going upstream and I'm thinking that the electro-magnetic fields are so strong that I'll forget my name and my cell phone will leap out of my shirt pocket and I run away from the crazy man like a battered woman.

I go back and get weighed again and then I go to another area of the scrap yard where they unload my aluminum and then I decided I'll be clever. For the final weight, I'll jump out of the truck so they'll pay me for my body weight in aluminum so when I pull up I jump out of the truck and rush up to the dude and say, "Whadda I get for it all, coolio?"

And he doesn't care whether I'm in the truck or not. It's not his money and I'm not really clear that I gamed the system anyway. Probably I was just fooling myself.

"Pull up," is all he says and I pull up and park outside the gate and I go inside to see how much I'll get and he says, "You want cash or check?" And I'm thinking...you have to ask?


"I need to see a driver's license," he replies. So, I think this is to cut down on the scrap metal thieves. But I'm not a thief so I give him my license and I wonder if he's going to say, "You know there's a warrant for your arrest in 2 states?" or something like that, but instead, he hands me back my license and a recepit and thirty-five cents and a little ATM card sort of thing and says, "The ATM machine out there will give you your cash."

The receipt says $152.35 and I'm thinking. "Woohoo" and I head back toward the house and the gas station in Morrison is selling gas for $3.27 a gallon and I think, "Thank God I didn't trade in the Tahoe on a Prius.

And on the ride home, I think how happy Jennifer will be that the front field is clear and how much fun we'll have on our four wheelers once the snows come and a small part of me is ready for winter.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 7, 2008 at 9:03 PM


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