What does it mean to say that Champaign-Urbana is a “transient” community? There’s one way to find out. With the right summer timing, you too could lose your virginity while dumpster diving after the mass exodus, but you might end up paying a high price … in more ways than one.
Something stuck in my craw when I arrived here in beautiful Champaign, but it’s continued to dig itself even deeper into my sub-craw with the determination of Florida blockwatcher.
It’s this whole “transient community” label I keep running into. More than a few folks have used this moniker to describe our town, and I really didn’t know what they meant. I expected to step from my apartment one morning to find C-U a ghost town, buildings deserted, and the streets full of trash.
Holy Burgess Meredith!
Last Thursday when I crawled out of the man-cave long enough to take Guido and Sal out for their morning pinch, it happened. Several of the neighboring apartments were, in fact, deserted and the monstrous mess left behind was indeed well deserving of a Twilight Zone episode, and the contempt for human conspicuous waste often palpable in Serling’s tone.
For your approval…
Furnishings, hardware, electronics, memorabilia, sacred texts, small appliances, maternal portraits, several small children, and countless, careless bundles of illicit contraband had been violently crammed into the gaping mouths of the giant blue dumpsters. Their fiberglass covers mercilessly cast aside like Anne Coulter’s integrity to make room for soiled mattresses, FATscreen televisions, and eviscerated beanbag chairs. It looked like someone tried to stuff a size-18 ass into a pair of size-2 “Daisy Dukes.” The technical term for this, you ask?
This is a phenomenon that occurs twice annually here in town, once in May, and evidently during the last week in July. Undergrads and graduates alike take full advantage of their damage deposit, and flee our little hamlet taking just enough time to leave any and all unwanted goods in—or somewhere relatively near—the dumpster “area.”
The hardworking facilities folks recognized that they might have been a little underprepared for this go-round, but before long, the trucks came and hauled it all away. These tireless people that keep the lights on, the pipes clear, and the guitar picks from blocking the dryer vents, assured me that next year U of I’s own waste control outfit is going to take control of the dog days of d’êtres by increasing pick up times and yardage.
When pressed, the dedicated staff was rife with confidential stories and anecdotes of tenant debauchery and abandoned treasures. Among the items left behind in the anals (no auto-correct, I don’t mean annals, I mean anals) of the student exodus include fur coats, stripper poles, vibrators, Baywatch lunch pails, Josh Groban CDs, and inflatable barn animals.
If you find yourself even slightly titillated by this residential residue, or what could be described as a tag-saler’s wet dream, don’t set aside the weekend to dumpster dive. There is a serious fine for doing so.
The exploding debris from the rolling dumpsters and the collateral rubbish is only the public, visual representation of those who may be the instigators of this “transient community” mentality. Not all leave behind gin-soaked carpets, mildewed underlayment, overflowing toilets, and indoor Hibachi smoke stains. For some, perhaps it’s just too much to ask that the sub-floor in the bathroom of their temporary home not be so deteriorated by urine and sludge that a hazmat team needs to be called. Perhaps it’s just too much to ask to take ALL the used catlitter outside before leaving. Perhaps it’s just too much to ask that the next tenant not have to be rushed to the hospital after digging a shard from a shotglass out of the garbage disposal.
I’m sure most of our “transients” have at least 100 other things on their mind, like grades … and getting laid. OK, so they have at least two things on their mind. Conversely, I am also sure that there are just as many doing their level best to fight the good fight, and to make their family and loved ones proud of their accomplishments, in and out of the classroom.
However, when they realized that the IKEA dresser that fit so easily in through their front door in the boxes wasn’t going to go out the same way, was it really necessary to drop it out of a third-story window, just to break it into dumpster-sized pieces?