Trash Picking: Drive-By Style

Long story short, I met a friend/coworker down in my old college stomping grounds this weekend. After parting ways, I took a drive around the familiar streets to see how things have changed {not much}. It was the night before trash day. In a college town. A good night for a drive.

As I was driving down one of the main drags, not paying too much attention, I noticed a dresser out of the corner of my eye. It looked familiar. It was a fleeting look but I recognized the style circulating around the blogosphere over the past year or so.

Now, I’m not big on trends. Typically, if something is too popular or trendy, I pass because I want to be unique & different. It can be an annoying trait but those that love me know it to be true.

I keep driving.

The dresser was sitting in front of a house with the drawers piled up next to it but not on the curb. It probably wasn’t out for trash. This area isn’t exactly Beverly Hills; people around here live with inside furniture outside all.the.time.

But what if it was trash? Perhaps I should just take another quick drive-by, you know, just for a better look.

I make the next U-turn.

Call it trash picking or rescuing, I find it difficult to ignore an abandoned, discarded but salvageable piece.

I accidentally overshoot the house and park half a block away in the parking lot of an insurance company. Lock my car. Walk back over to the house.

There’s a light on outside but the porch lights are off. I can see a light on in the back of the house but not in any of the front rooms. There’s no one on the street except cars whizzing past at 45 mph.

I’m alone and no one knows exactly where I am. Getting mugged isn’t on my Sunday night “TO DO” list. Perhaps this isn’t the smartest of ideas.

I decide to take my chances. Knowing the neighborhood, I wager the tenants are more likely to be stoners than the shotgun toting type.

Cautiously, I approach the dresser. I don’t want anyone to think I’m trespassing on their property. Will I set off motion sensing lights? Would anyone even notice if I did? I decide both are unlikely in this neighborhood.

The dresser is in decent shape. The veneer is chipped and there’s trash in some of the drawers but its sturdy and a good size. A good cleaning and a coat of paint would do wonders. Is it trash?? Do I really need it? Where would I even use it?

That last question is my most important – Where will it go? I try very hard not to drag home pieces if I don’t have a clear idea of where it will live. I find that more often than not, bringing things home just because I like them ends up being a complete waste of time & money.

I walk back to my car. Get in. And pull back out onto the main street.

Only to pull directly into their driveway.

The following goes through my head –

  1. Why not?!
  2. What would be the harm in asking if it’s trash?
  3. The worst they can say is, “No you crazy lady get off my property!”
  4. Don’t pay for it. Walk away if they want money for it.
  5. If it doesn’t work out, I can always put it out for bulk trash or list it on craigslist.

I knock on the door.

Twice. There’s someone inside but they aren’t getting up.

A third time, a little more persistently. Add a wave when they look out the door.

Andrew {we’ll call him Andrew} answers the door. Andrew appears to be your typical college kid or maybe someone who’s friends with someone who attends college. He’s in bare feet, jeans, hoodie & a hemp necklace; no gun or attack dogs. While confused as to why I am knocking on his door, he seems relatively normal. I introduce myself. He does the same.

“Hi! You don’t know me but I was driving by and saw the dresser sitting there. Is it trash? If so, would you mind if I took it?”

“I don’t know. Let me call my landlord. It was left here by the previous tenants and I don’t know if they’re coming to pick it up or not.”

:::: Seemingly lengthy conversation with landlord. It’s apparent Andrew has been dodging his landlord as the conversation quickly devolves away from dresser talk. I feel partially responsible for him having to talk to his landlord but, as a landlord myself, it’s probably all for the best. ::::

Confirmation! The dresser is indeed out for trash. I may have it. Andrew offers to help me get it in my car; what a gentleman.

It fits, just barely but it fits.


While I cannot condone knocking on doors of perfect strangers – at night, alone – I now own a FREE campaign style dresser and lived to tell the tale.

Campaign style furniture – yay or nay? Or are you still stuck on ‘the crazy’ I displayed by randomly knocking on someone’s door?

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15 Responses to Trash Picking: Drive-By Style

  1. Great story!
    I think you will do wonders with it.

  2. priscilla says:


  3. This is a great dresser. It may be a little trendy now, but it’s a great classic style. I have been looking for something like this (maybe a little larger) for storage in the dining room. I have a hard time finding things with clean lines in my area.

    Jealous over here.

  4. NancyO says:

    ah! I love your dresser!

    Last week at lunch, I was driving past an apartment complex. A dresser was sitting NEXT to the dumpster. A drawer was missing, it was filthy and the slides were half hanging off. BUT, it was made of solid wood, had a good base and nothing that a sanding, little paint filler, paint, and new hardware can’t fix. Even though I don’t have any use for it, I told myself that if I can’t find a home for it – I’ll sell it on CL.

    As I approached the back of the complex, I rearranged my trunk and a guy came over to “ah yo, there’s no illegal dumping here. I’m the building manager”

    “Understandable sir. But, I’m actually taking your trash if you don’t mind. I like this dresser that has been sitting by the dumpster”

    “oooh … yea yea help yourself then …”

  5. Katrina says:

    high five! lol – It’s for a yay — its a classic style 🙂

  6. Great pick. I think the dresser is a classic, and will look fantastic painted! Nothing like FREE (good) furniture either!

  7. Julia says:

    I’m never ashamed to pick up free stuff–our living room bench was from the dump. good find!

  8. Nina says:

    What a great find! I love finding stuff on the street, haven’t found anything lately…

    Your house is great! Have been reading your blog for a while, can’t even remember how I found it…

  9. Wow. I had a similar incident where i ended up buying a teak table base. The lady had renovated her home and was selling its as trash. Me and the hubby were just passing by and i jumped for joy on seeing the Base. We still kept going while debating on the base.
    The Hubby rushed back and we haggled with the women to sell it to us.One of the most Happiest days of my life!

  10. katie says:

    i say yay! but i also have one that i found for a super cheap price at a thrift store, soo… i also was a little worried about jumping on the trend but i found that once i painted it, the simplicity of the dresser (and the brass hardware) looks really nice with my other mid-century bedroom furniture.

    i think it’s a great find!

  11. Christina says:

    This whole post is a hoot. Street finds are the best. Knocking on strangers’ doors, less so. But all is well that ends well, and that is one mighty fine dresser.

    Nice work.

  12. J-C says:

    Oh wow! That was a very lucky find. Campaign style dressers can cost a LOT of money. Is this one genuinely old? If so, definitely a keeper.

  13. Bill Avery says:

    Just take it you pussy

  14. Useful info. Lucky me I found your site accidentally, and I’m stunned why this coincidence did not came about in advance! I bookmarked it.

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