Friday, February 06, 2009

The Cheapest Cabinet Money Can Buy

In our constant quest to keep the house in ship shape, Kat and I bought new wooden filing cabinets with some gift money to replace the old metal one which was buckling on the sides. So, after watching Kat assemble the beastly things, I did some fixing and drilling and general manliness to them to make them work, since not all the parts that came in the box worked. Not being a construction worker (though I have before) or a soldier (though we employ women as well) or a wrestler/football player/professional decimator of things, I greatly appreciate opportunities to express the general manliness of lifting, sweating, laboring, and dirtying perfectly clean flannel.

So I was feeling pretty good about myself. Enter: conundrum. We were left with the tragic-looking stack of our old filing cabinet sitting around the house. Now, a friend I know from work roams around in his truck (again, manly) picking up sheet metal and taking it to the scrap yard for extra cash. Aha! says I. I can stuff this sad thing into the car and get money while recycling and feeling masculine. Nobody loses here.

I entered the scrap yard on Fifth Avenue in our Toyota Corolla with a bike rack on the back. I knew something was amiss when I pulled the car up into a muddied moon-scape of a parking lot beside grimy, indestructible pick-up trucks with massive trailers and beds. Further along, past imposing mountains of rusty rubble, the obligatory magnetic crane, and a guy wielding an acetylene cutting torch, there were enormous dump trucks full of rusted out buckets from front-end loaders and pieces of bulldozers and barges. You get the picture. So, I pull up and find out that, no, my filing cabinet is sheet metal, and we only take big chunks out here in big chunky metal land. I'll have to go over to Central.

I navigate the Corolla out of the junkyard (if only cars could gawk like those Wallace and Gromit characters), and we head over to PSC on Central. Same deal, smaller piles, sharper objects. I ask around and find out I'm supposed to get on the scale. I do so and am then directed toward what can only be described as Hyacinth Bucket's worst nightmare. There's a toward with a magnetic crane and a tiny metal shack on top. Around it, piles of scrap metal sit in a moat of stagnant mud like strange pagan offerings. People have backed their cars up to it and are flinging engine blocks, AC parts, and all manner of flotsam into the muck around the proboscidean crane. What is there to do, except do likewise? I back up to the mud and toss the filing cabinet in onto a scattering of metal shelves lying half-submerged in nasty water. Then, I am directed off to the scales again. After a second weigh-in, I park and walk into the building. I expect to wonder what desk to go to, but there is no question. I find myself in a paneled hallway, eight feet by three feet, maybe. There is a teller window, covered in two-and-a-half inch thick bulletproof glass. The lady takes my ID and gives me a paper upon which I put my signature and my left thumbprint. She gives me back my ID, a receipt, and the check they cut for our filing cabinet - one dollar, and eighty cents.

At the time of this writing, I feel a little sorry for our old filing cabinet, sitting out there in that nasty pond in the skeletal shadow of that malevolent tower, which might any day pick it up to be chewed into bits and melted down. It was a good filing cabinet while it lasted, holding our documents like the most patient secretary.


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