I bought a new couch last week. I mean, I walked into the store, found the couch I loved, got the salesman, and paid with my own money. real money. Not a credit card. You may be able to tell, I’m pretty proud of this. For some reason buying a couch felt really good. I’m finally working a job that I love, that provides me with enough money to buy things like couches (and Disney vacations!) AND pay some family bills. It feels really good.
Anyway, that isn’t the point of this post…the point, is the couch. Not the new couch, but the old couch. The one out on the curb.
I bought that couch what feels like a lifetime ago. I was fresh out of college, with my first real job at an ad agency, and my first nice apartment to call home. I needed nice furniture. So my mom and I went to a local store, and I found the PERFECT couch, chair. Pale green. So pretty. I also picked out a cute, country style coffee table and end table. I had made it! I was a grown up! Furnishing my home!! WOOHOO!!
Fast forward almost ten years. That beautiful, pale green couch, is not as beautiful as it was the day it was delivered to my apartment. Oh no. That couch had been through a lot. That couch saw 3 apartments and one house. It spent a few years in storage. Two cats curled up on that couch. One of those cats even used one side of the couch as her personal scratching post. A dog did all the things that dogs do on that couch. A bunch of people slept over on that couch (and man was it a comfortable place to sleep!) That couch was there for the period of Avery’s life that I call “The Puke Stage” where she spit up pretty much constantly and I thought I was living in a frat house. That couch experienced the horror of potty training, and thinking the kid was trained, only for the couch to find out that she isn’t. 4 TIMES! Milk was spilled on that couch, mac and cheese somehow found it’s way to the upholstery, there were mandarin orange, marker, pen, crayon, and unidentifiable stains. And to top it all off, that couch saw ten years of butts.
And while I regularly scrubbed, washed, sprayed, soaked or otherwise disinfected it, that’s a lot for one couch to go through.
So, the couch was gross. And I bought a new couch.
And I needed to get rid of the old couch.
So, we put it on the curb and called the city to come take her away.
And then I got a lot of people asking “Why didn’t you sell it?” and “Why didn’t you donate to charity!” “WHY? WHY? WHY?”
BECAUSE THAT COUCH IS GROSS!
I wouldn’t feel right selling it. And I wouldn’t feel good donating it either.
I think we have this mindset in America that those who are less fortunate are happy to take our trash off our hands. Drive by any Salvation Army and you’ll see tons of junk dumped outside. Much of it in completely unusable condition. We think we’re doing something good, and in some cases we are, but in many cases people are just looking for a free way to dump their garbage that isn’t good enough to keep, sell, or give to a friend.
People do this with clothes, appliances, non-perishable food items and furniture. Baby clothes with tears, or covered in stains get donated. Shoes with the soles half off. Broken lamps. Cracked mirrors. Vacuums that kinda-sorta-maybe work sometimes. Expired cans of creamed spinach. Pee and baby puke covered couches. (Read THIS ARTICLE from Slate.com to see what happens to the clothes you donate. It is an eye opener, but don’t let it stop you from donating your non-destroyed clothing)
That old, smelly, broken, stained couch? “Oh yes, I’ll donate this! Some poor person would be lucky to have this. Poor people don’t care what condition it’s in. They just want whatever they can get!”
No, not really.
They lack money, not dignity!
I am in no way saying that we shouldn’t be charitable, or that we shouldn’t donate things we no longer need. I think it is very, VERY important that we all give as freely and as often as we can, but, we shouldn’t be donating our garbage. If you are getting rid of something because you wouldn’t use it because it is in terrible condition…you probably shouldn’t donate it. Trash is trash. And, how charitable are we being if we donate trash? A wise friend says;
“Part of what makes an act charitable is that the donation has value!“
She is 100% correct. Donating my pee and puke and stain covered couch isn’t really an act of charity, its an act of passing my crap off to someone else to deal with. If I call a local charity to come get it, someone will have to take the time, and spend the gas money to drive here, then load the couch, bring it back to their location, where they’ll say “Yikes! This is pretty gross, we can’t re-sell/use this” and then they will need to find a way to dispose of it. I’d prefer to pass that crap off to the city sanitation department.
Like I said, We should still donate to charities. My old chair coffee table and end table? Those will be donated. Do I need them? No. Do I want them? No. Are the trash? No. Would they be great for someone else to use? Absolutely! DONATE!
In short, if you need to get rid of your pee, puke, and stain covered, smelly, old couch, toss it to the curb, don’t donate it.
Sometimes, one man’s trash is another man’s trash.
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