Be a Better Thrifter / Personal Story / Uncategorized

Free Finds Are the Best Finds

In Praise of The Free Pile


My mom and I after running the 5 miles of hell with other people who definitely know more about what they’re doing than we do. I’m sweaty.

There are several ways in which you can tell I am my mother’s child. One, I am painfully practical and find spontaneity to be stressful at times. Two, we both go crazy if it’s been too many days since we last exercised. But most importantly, we like a good bargain. A free pile specifically. Maybe this is partly my father’s influence actually… He brings home the strangest stuff from work: semi-broken wheelbarrows, hollow cement squares he plans to use for planters but look more like gravestones, old metal racks he deems plant stands.



Here’s a nice photo of me eating a small breakfast in my best racing gear (yes that is a looney tunes roadrunner sweatshirt that says ‘chillin”) and chug a luggin some coffee. And also questioning my existence. 

One particularly good story about a free find starts with my mother and I on Thanksgiving. Neither of us are natural runners, per say, and I didn’t start running till near high school graduation, but we like to do it. Well… any runner might tell you it’s love/hate in that relationship.But There’s a 5 mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving that starts at 8 am so that afterward you can go stuff your face and feel less guilty. We like to do that because we both like pie. a lot.



We listen to a Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas collaboration to get pumped the f*** up. duh.

Aside from almost being late nearly every time, we generally roll up to the starting line about ten minutes before 8 am. I’ve just chugged the rest of my coffee and realized I’m wearing too many layers. We frantically discuss a meeting spot that neither of us will stick through. And we’re off! Well not very quickly because of the massive pack. But I gain speed, slowly.

About midway through the race I was keeping a good pace. I felt decent, and I was only slightly concerned I would die near the end when I spotted somebody’s pile of trash on the curb. The turkey trot was a roadrace and it weaved itself through blocks of resident area. As my part of the pack approached this house I noticed first a pair of old boots, and a cardboard box filled with what looked like to be old photo frames. Then I saw the primary colors in plastic, it appeared to be a stackable cart. I wondered if I could use that in my dorm room. All this going through my head as I try not to remember I’m running at an 8:00/mile pace.  I memorized the road signs at the next intersection and made that my sort of mantra in my head, repeating it as I huffed, puffed, and pushed up the gigantic hill attempting to catch up with the other spry little college pack. I wanted to beat the division 1 school kid ahead of me. Who wears their college workout wear to a Turkey trot anyway? Braggy little shit. I tried to run beside them conspicuously for as long as possible. Then I passed. Who cares if I’m near dead?

I finished the race feeling good about my effort which I could confirm both by the amount of sweat I had produced on a 35 degree Fahrenheit near-winter day (everything cold and soaking) and by the encroaching headache. But I had a free pumpkin pie to claim and a mom to cheer on. So I did so and my mother came in at a satisfactory rate as well. On our way out, both of us dreaming about showers and thanksgiving lunch, I remember to tell her about the primary colors set. I tell her the intersection and she knows what I’m talking about and what do you know, we got free pie and a free organizer cart! Some people run races for the adrenaline. I run races for the roadside trash potential. 😉


These are the kind of fashion decisions you make for extended-family thanksgiving lunch after a 5 mile run. kicking asssssss in my baggy old man corduroy overalls. 

Someone tell me if I’m cool or not.






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