Rule #82: Back-to-School Shop at the County Dump

in Rules of Parenting

Now don't be greedy, there are enough Coors Light lunch boxes for everyone.

It’s that glorious time of year when highly educated and underpaid personnel, otherwise known as teachers, take over your major responsibilities.

And the mad men and women of Madison Avenue promote this seasonal transition with the idea of buying everything new: clothes, shoes, pencils and food stuffs like party wieners—all of which signal to your children that we are about to usher in another season of massive consumption.

You are not against the transition. In fact, it gives you more time to riddle caregivers and school personnel with long-form complaints. But you are against massive consumption, the kind that has made America weak in the knees for special offers in the snack aisle at Wal-Mart.

That’s why you’ll show your children and the insensible masses where you stand by doing your back-to-school shopping at the county dump.

Sure, dumps get a bad rap, what with the high concentration of unwanted junk, hazardous trash and pestilence-spreading vermin. But think of the hardscrabble lessons you can teach your children, along with the bounty you can pick up at the dump for the upcoming school year:

First lesson: decomposition. Your children can learn why the mauve shag carpet you’ve rolled up and tossed in the back of your minivan (homemade backpacks) isn’t composting material like the mound of moldy potatoes you pulled it from.

Second lesson: originality. Yes, those prosthetic legs unceremoniously dumped upon piles of Cornish game hens smell weird. And all those bare legs on top of the pile sort look like a disturbing orgy of rubbish love.

But you know what? Haul one or two of those dented legs home with you anyway. You’ll find a purpose for them—your child’s classroom umbrella stand or a limbo stick for P.E.—that will be gloriously original. People will thank you. Really.

Third lesson: trespassing. Most sections of the county dump are off limits due to safety issues, but they have the finest picks of the litter.

Why should a few bureaucrats with their “rules” keep you away from picking up discarded gutters (teacher holiday gifts) and shards of glass, which can be crudely fashioned into weaponry to frighten neighborhood “toughs” who may have the audacity to tease your child about leg jutting out of his shag backpack.

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