Shamelessly pinched from The Age on a tip-off from TOF .
Author Jim Schembri
Date of publication 22/05/2009
THOSE large Dalek-like charity bins that dot the burbscape of Melbourne are not merely places where kind people deposit goods for the benefit of the needy. They are heartening reminders of how we live in a compassionate society composed of big-hearted citizens who are so full of the milk of human kindness that they ought to froth.
Yet also living among us are thoughtless sods who consider charity bins as dumping sites to offload junk that is obviously, well, junk. A genuine, you've-got-to-be-kidding fact is that clearing away this garbage costs the Salvation Army about $1 million a year in Victoria, and $3 million nationwide. Which is revolting.
Worse, though, are those degenerate types who cruise charity bins at night looking for stuff to steal, either for themselves or — believe this if you dare — to sell at garage sales. Such behaviour is despicable, contemptible, shameful.
That is, of course, unless you happened to be walking by a charity bin after a pleasant night out and saw standing there what appeared to be a brand-new, pristine, solid-metal DVD storage tower that would look just great in your living room.
Cast in the diffused light of a nearby pharmacy sign, the tower gleamed and sparkled. It appeared to be looking for a home — specifically mine. "Take me. Take me home. I'm yours," it seemed to say. (I may have been a little drunk.)
Then came the moral dilemma. Wasn't it wrong to take off with something intended for the less fortunate? Or was there a sound case that could promptly rationalise this pesky thought into oblivion?
People in need don't own that many DVDs, I figured. If anything, they rent, and certainly not 50 at a time, which is what this magnificent thing could hold. So it'd surely be wasted on them. Also, the tower wasn't next to the bin but stood about two metres away, hence it could be argued that it was actually on its own and had nothing to do with the charity bin.
So with the liberal application of some good old-fashioned Nixonian deniability, I persuaded myself that I had "found" the tower, promptly wedged it under my arm like a jousting lance, and took it home.
Filled with my 50 favourite classic comedies — including the entire Bud Spencer/Terence Hill catalogue and the wildly misunderstood Raise the Titanic — the tower now took pride of place next to the plasma, right between the yellow and red milk crates.
It looked splendid. Heck, it looked like it belonged.
Then, at 3.17am, right in the middle of a medium-level nightmare about being speared with a lance by Richard Nixon, came this almighty crash that sounded like the house was being broken into by the monster from Cloverfield.
I ran to the living room, hit the lights and saw that the DVD tower had collapsed, and in a very special way. It appeared to have been aiming for my new, very expensive, tax-deductible Blu-ray player, which it had missed by a matter of millimetres.
I quickly deduced, CSI: Miami-like, that the welding on the metal base must have been faulty when I "found" it and had given way under the weight of the DVDs. Bugger, I thought. I consoled myself with the fact that I was now in possession of the world's longest toast rack.
Then I realised what this was. It was one of those "karma" deals, where the Great God of Getting Even with Thieving Bastards exacts revenge on wrongdoers with a customised calamity as divine punishment for their crime. I mean alleged crime.
The scrap metal value of the dismembered tower was about 12 cents, and the idea of paying a handyman to re-attach the base completely violated the sacred principle of getting something for nothing. So late that night I carried the thing back to the charity bin and deposited it with a small type-written sign that read: "DVD tower, free to good home. Base needs mending."
This, I hoped, would square me off with whatever deity was suddenly taking such an interest in my affairs and who presumably took almighty note that I left the charity bin exactly as I had found it, even though that large toaster oven looked to be in perfect working order and probably had really good resale value.
The Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal door knock is on this weekend. Dig deep.