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Unload your anxiety with a trip to dump


There is nothing like a trip to the dump to pick up your spirits. After you have unloaded a pile of stuff that has been sitting in your house since the dawn of time, you feel on top of the world.

One day this week, I had a great run. I dropped a load of trash at the dump, technically the Northwest Sanitation Yard on Sisson Street. I deposited a big box of reusable kitchen supplies at the Salvation Army, hauled some building materials to the Loading Dock and I finished off the day by dropping a couple boxes of books at the Book Thing. For a guy into "de-acquisition," a day doesn't get much better than that.

Saturday is a busy day at the dump, that is when the backups are long and rules enforced. As you read this, lines of vehicles driven by guys in dirty T-shirts are probably forming at waste disposal sites in Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Baltimore counties and in Baltimore City.

I believe you can't claim to reside in a community unless you know where your dump is. Mine is at 2840 Sisson St. I am a regular, familiar with its hours and rituals.

I know, for instance, that once I wheel my station wagon into the yard I am under the jurisdiction of the yard man, the guy who sometimes wears an orange shirt, the fellow who sits by the open fire in the wintertime, the supervisor. He directs traffic and informs you how you will properly dispose of your waste. You do not cross him.

If you are toting small-time trash -- bottles and newspapers -- he will wave you toward the green recycling Dumpsters. If however, you are hoping to drop off more serious stuff, you must take your place in the line of sagging pickups that forms at the back of the lot. There you wait until you are summoned, notified that your time to dispose has come.

The summoning comes in a loud voice, usually a " Yo!" There is a lot of "yo-ing" at the dump. A yard man will holler at the driver of a sagging pickup: "Yo! Take that down to [Dumpster] No. 10." A dump patron, holding up debris, will inquire of the supervisor: "Yo! Where does this stuff go?"

Several significant strides in my development as a full-fledged Baltimore resident, a master of the "yo," have occurred at the dump. There not only have I learned to respond to being "yo-ed," but I have also successfully hollered a "yo" that gained the attention of a yard man.

The dump has its rules. You must live in the jurisdiction. Your vehicle cannot be too big. You cannot be carrying hazardous materials or construction debris. These and other regulations are there, the landfill lords tell me, to keep the site true to its original character, a spot for the occasional dumper. People with larger trucks and bigger dumping needs, should the lords decree, pay for a hauling license or journey to the mother of municipal landfills, the Quarantine Road dump. Getting rejected at your local dump, turned away at the gate, because your load is illegal or because the Dumpsters are full, is a bummer.

The other day, a weekday, I sailed in and out of my dump. Relieved of refuse, my spirits and the suspension system of my station wagon soared.

Buoyed, I decided to make a drop-off at another familiar spot, the Salvation Army thrift store at 2700 W. Patapsco Ave. I knew that donations, such as my box of kitchen utensils, were accepted at the back of the store. The two guys working at the loading dock mocked my inability to back up the station wagon. They complained that the box of kitchen goods was much too heavy. But they took it off my hands.

A new stop on my route was the Loading Dock Inc. warehouse in East Baltimore. This is a nonprofit operation that distributes surplus building materials (details at When I telephoned the office, I was told the Loading Dock would accept my donation of a couple doors and a ventilation hood if I brought them to the warehouse by 3 o'clock that afternoon, the time when they stopped receiving goods for the day. Shortly after I hung up the phone, I loaded the car and was out the door.

It took me a while, but I found the warehouse, at 2 N. Kresson St., between Pulaski Highway and Haven Street. Once again, I displayed poor backing-up skills, but once again, I got the goods out of my car. I returned home, scooped up two boxes of books and headed to 3001 Vineland Lane. This short street that curls off Greenmount Avenue is where the Book Thing is located. It is a book-giveaway operation, started by Russell Wattenberg (details at While it only opens its doors on the weekends, it has a book-drop bin near its front door that accepts books 24 hours a day. The other day, as I unloaded my boxes of books, I considered pawing through the books already in the container.

It is tempting when you are on a de-acquisitions mission to grab something that catches your eye. But I resisted. Grabbing things is how basements fill up.

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