The Value of Rubbish

I had a big clear-out of my attic over the weekend, and made in-roads into 15 years’ worth of junk that had taken over the top of the house. Nothing exciting there (except for a mouse-filled Xmas pudding – how did that end up there?) but it merited a few trips to the district environmental waste recycling facility (or ‘dump’ for anyone not engaged in creating mindless jargon).

Dumps operate their own special underground economy, and it seems to be the accepted norm that workers there can scavenge and sell the waste, even if it contravenes fire safety or electrical safety rules. I quickly became popular as old laptops (with their hard discs removed), books, bags and bits of furniture were hauled out of the Land Rover. Selling that for a profit is obviously a perk of the job.

What disturbed me though was the worker (whom I know to be legitimate, I’ve seen him there before) stood over the paper skip going through all the loose paper: not just sorting it, but reading it, opening envelopes, and in one case pocketing something (it looked like a utility or tax bill) that interested him. I wonder if that’s a another unofficial perk of the job – stealing identity credentials to order?