What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever found on the side of the road?
A story about a “mysterious stuffed animal spill” in Oregon put that question in my head although it’s a story with a happy ending: after the toys were rescued someone volunteered to clean them and they’ll be given out to children, and I guess it was the cleaning that reminded me of the time many years ago when my friend Steve and I were driving and saw a box on the side of the interstate, so of course we stopped to see what it was.
I don’t know what we were thinking and it only occurs to me now that stopping to check out a mysterious box on the side of the interstate seems like a pretty boneheaded thing to do. It could have been part of a drug deal—it could have been a box full of drugs waiting for a dealer to pick them up. Or it could have been a box full of money left there as part of a drug deal. Or it could have been the dismembered body of a drug dealer stuffed into a box. For all we knew it could have been the head of Alfredo Garcia. And if it had been any of those things we would have gone to the nearest pay phone—this was back when cell phones were the size of bricks—and left a message with the authorities and gotten out of there as fast as we could.
Yes, there was a considerable reward for the head of Alfredo Garcia, but if you’ve seen the movie you know delivering it wasn’t easy, but that’s another story.
Anyway it was a washing machine. For clothes. Not a full-sized one but a miniature, portable washing machine. It would really be more accurate to say it was a sturdy plastic box with an agitator in the middle and a button that could be turned to light or heavy, and a plug. It had a drain on one side so I think once your clothes were washed you poured out the soapy water and added clean water for a rinse. The whole thing couldn’t hold more than a couple of sweaters or a single pair of jeans and a shirt or about ten pairs of underwear—any more than that and the agitator would either break or shred the clothes. Still it was useful and I saved a lot of quarters by only using the dryers in my dorm, and could have saved even more if I’d figured out a way to put out a laundry line.
When I graduated I bequeathed it to some sophomores. I no longer had need of it and I hoped they could use it for washing their clothes. And if nothing else—not that I’m condoning this—it would be a really good place to hide drugs.