Stuff and the Road


Oddly enough, I don’t spend all my time seeking ecstasy, identifying with the Universe or supporting Green Anarchists. Sometimes, quite ordinary stuff happens.

Like yesterday, when Warren turned on the stove to make breakfast, and it blew a fat spark, tripping every electric appliance in the house. Which is to say, not that many.

But this stove has been with us for nearly seven years – it came with the house, and was far from a spring chicken even then. Over the years it has given up the ghost on every hotplate, one by one, until we were constrained to cooking on one, and the oven has been out of control for more than three years. But we try to live fairly simply, and held off buying a new one until the decision was forced upon us – at which time, we saw a perfect opportunity to switch to gas.

Well, we were talked at and over by lean and hungry salesmen for most of Saturday morning, but arrived back home not only stove-less but mightily annoyed as well. Seems there were two kinds of gas stoves available – the cheap and nasty, which looked liable to fall apart after baking their first cake, and the highly expensive, by which I mean over 7 thousand rand for the basic, non-brushed-steel-non-Italian model.

But nothing in between it seemed- until I trawled the web sites of the appliance companies, and discovered where they were hiding the medium-priced stoves.

So now we have a new (working- I checked!) stove, and an old, beaten-up, encrusted model taking up space.
I don’t remember this happening in England or the US, but here’s what we do in South Africa in such a situation: we leave it in the road.

With the rubbish collection happening tomorrow, and the influx of poverty stricken diggers-through of rubbish bins, almost anything can be recycled, or given a new home by this standard method. We’ve passed on briefcases, computers and hoovers this way. The neighbours bought a new carpet for their lounge and donated the old one to the road. The other neighbours’ son outgrew his bicycle, and some child in the squatter camp got it through the auspices of the road.

I really like this way of passing stuff around. Not one for recycling much (shock, horror surprise) as I’m cynical about the amount of energy it takes to haul stuff in a truck to a recycling plant and in any case we use all our old glass, kitchen waste and so on, but putting old stuff back into the community, almost anonymously and for free, has a good feel to it.
Aargh, I’m sounding all hippy. Never mind.
So there’s our old stove on the road, and I’m betting it won’t make it to Monday morning. The word of mouth around this area is amazing.

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4 responses to “Stuff and the Road

  1. Oh we leave things in the road here all the time. My dad regularly gets rid of stuff that way – lawn furniture, gas grills, a couch. Unfortunately he also gets rid of stuff that he didn't intend to – like yard tools. 😀

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  2. Oh the lovely informal system of redistribution here — when my old pittosporum tree was blown over in the front garden, people came with handsaws and tiny sharp knives and cut it up for kindling.

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  3. Here we use Craig's List: post electronically that you've got a slightly used toddler potty, a lawn chair that needs rewebbing, some chipped dishes. Someone will show up to claim them. It's great.

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