Road-side trash is another man’s treasure

There are stories in those things people throw from their cars and trucks as they zip down the road.
Riding my bicycle, I’ve become acquainted with the flotsam and jetsam along the roads of Curry County.
The message of most of the stuff is litterers have no consideration for others: Drink cups and bags from fast-food joints, cans, bottles filled with bodily fluids tossed out by truckers … unspoken messages from people thinking in the moment, not thinking of others, people whose parents didn’t teach them good manners.
People just chucking stuff out their vehicle window, now that’s another story.
It’s the curiosity trash that makes me think.
There was the pile of 10 or so beer cans with a pregnancy test perched on top of them. What happened there? Did someone park by the side of the road and have a small soiree to celebrate something?
There was the September 1969 issue of “Gent” magazine I found. I’m sure I know the story to this one: Some guys were cleaning out someone’s stuff, say, someone who died. Then they found this girlie magazine from 1969. They’re hauling the stuff off in a pickup, driving down the road laughing and pointing at what the readers of the late ’60s found risqué. Then the one holding the magazine says laughingly, “Can you believe this stuff?” Then he tosses it out the window.
I found a “Palm Pilot,” one of those tiny computers people use for note taking. I was just tooling along on my bicycle and there it was in the grass. The screen was smashed, it had moisture on the inside and dirt on the outside. What was the story?
My first thought was it had been in someone’s purse, the purse had been snatched and the thief (having no use for it) tossed it. Maybe some rancher had it sitting on the seat of his pickup and, forgetting it was there, set a heavy load on it and it was smashed. In his anger at having just destroyed the $300 device he tossed it.
I’ve seen all kinds of women’s underthings by the side of the road. Black underthings, white underthings, purple, leopard spotted. I don’t throw my perfectly good underthings out by the side of the road, I’ve wondered why these people did.
Of course, there’s the lone shoe: How did the shoe come off going down the highway and/or where is the other one?
I’ve found some good music, mostly cassettes, mostly country (the Judds, Reba McEntire), conjunto and norteno. Probably they were “eaten” by a cassette player and the owner chucked the tape out the window. I just crack the case open and put the tape in a new case.
Come to think of it, I’ve always looked around when riding my bike, a scooter or walking. You never know what you’ll find.
That’s the thing about stuff by the side of the road. Most folks don’t see it, or if they do they don’t see how interesting it can be.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: