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Never Say Goodbye, Just Say So Long

Posted by Robyn / May 24, 2007

Montreal's Unofficial Recycling Program Meets Robyn's Old TV Set

Here's an interesting fact about Montreal: If you put household stuff or any stuff really on the street/sidewalk/alley, it will disappear fairly quickly. Old chairs? Yes. Tables? For sure, all kinds. Clothes? Yeah, sometimes even them. Mattresses? Okay, no, those will probably just hang out and wait for that special "large household items" garbage day. I mean, they're probably fine, but that's a risk people don't seem into taking. While this may seem like a rule-less city-wide game of trash or treasure, it does have some standards.

The whole phenomenon is like Freecycle, but without having to deal with any kind of formality or organization or, y'know, effort. Oh, I have put in effort for certain things, like taking old clothes and small things to the Mile End Mission or Salvation Army, but hauling an old heavy tv around, well, maybe my heart's just not big enough for that. Also, I have found A LOT of decent stuff on the street (end tables, book shelves, tables, chairs, a perfectly fine unstained room carpet, a lamp, dishes, glasses, art, seriously, a lot of things, without even looking for them.) Gotta give back.

This tv, however, came from the Little Burgundy Salvation Army - a former roommate bought it years before I was around, and then I inherited it. But it is time to put the free-stuff-on-the-street theory into action once more.


I would like to suggest that Montreal's free-stuff-on-the-street situation is kind of organized! Organized around Chaos. Or possibly Quantum Computation. Or some theory about garbage. Garbage Cheese String Theory. I don't know, one of those hot sciencey theories that makes me think of the 70s. So, in recognition of this, I am documenting the plight of my 70s-era television set, aka, Why do I still have a giant old tube RCA TV taking up space in my very small apartment when I pretty much never watch the thing? aka, Hey, Robyn's Old TV, we've had some good times, but now it's time to say goodbye. I know, I know, love hurts when it's over. What's that? No, I will not run the VCR through you again just to get two extra channels because you only go up to 12. It belittles you; I can't deal with it. What? You want to do karaoke with me? No, we can't - you don't have the hook-ups, remember? TV, I loved you once, your soft green glow, the staticky warmth of your screen, but you encroach on my space, you're suffocating me. Don't you see? We'll both be better off without each other. Maybe you will even find someone who loves that high-pitched head-splitting whine you developed a few years ago. I will always love your red LED panel. I will always think of the channel numbers in that way.
So you can see my dilemma. But I remained strong willed, determined to see a bright open space where the dark tv set once sat. I wrapped my arms around the tv, I moved it into the apartment's entrance way.

And I waited until the garbage truck came by, just in case they thought they'd dispose of a perfectly usable piece of technology. My tv stared at me from the hall. I thought about it; I almost changed my mind.

Around 7 pm, the garbage truck came and went. I waited as long as I could, and then I sighed, put on my shoes, and readied myself to haul the tv's awkward bulk downstairs and on to the sidewalk.

I even put a note on it, to assure people of its capabilities.
And there it sat, still and pensive.

Did it miss the safe confines of the apartment? Was it befuddled by the bright and cacophonous world?

I had to let it be. I had to let it go. I made some muffins. I wrote some email.


And then, less than an hour later, it was gone! Who took it? Does it have a good home? Will its tube technology warm its new watchers? I can only hope. But the point is: the unofficial recycling "system" works! Though I guess the other point is: I have no TV!


I'm only slightly disappointed that this didn't turn into a saga, in which I had to endure watching my old tv get rained on and possibly kicked or, oh no, smashed. And I would have had to struggle with whether to just bring it back in or let nature take its course. I'm glad it didn't come to that. Though maybe it is being dismantled right now. Over that, I have no control. Maybe it will bring joy one lazy Saturday afternoon to a neglected young child who has never before watched a Canadian-produced made-for-tv movie starring someone who was a hot sitcom star 7 years ago.

Maybe I will see it again one day, maybe even tomorrow, on another block, rejected, its blank, reflective stare a call for help, my help. Or maybe I'll see it on a nearby street on moving day, waiting for its next owners to turn up. And they will turn up. That is how things work here.



laura / May 25, 2007 at 08:52 am
I too left my old tv outside the other day, but with a less positive tag that said (in French) "Doesn't work super well-- the screen goes white when overheated." It was out there a couple of hours, tops. Perhaps our tvs are together being dismantled somewhere.
rrrobyn / May 25, 2007 at 08:36 pm
i am kind of missing the imitation wood paneling. if one day i ever need another tv and tvs have not been replaced by more versatile screen-based media, then i would hope that that tv/screen would have some kind of fancy imitation wood panelling.
Dave / May 26, 2007 at 08:04 am
When is the oversized garbage pick up day here? I put out a mattress a few months back on a random Thursday, and it was picked up by the city. Is it every Thursday? Or did I luck out?
Eve Martel / May 27, 2007 at 02:09 pm
I spent all day yesterday checking out the window to see if the stuff I had put to the curb (pile of magazines, pillows, vintage suitcase) was gone. It all went away piece by piece in 5 hours. Last night, only the suitcase remained so I put an add in the "free" section of Craigslist. It was gone this morning. Thanks, free-stuff-on-the-street system!
OJ / May 30, 2007 at 06:10 pm
Great post, Robyn. I've benefitted from the unoffical recycling program on both ends...can't wait for July 1st.
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