Cans kicked down the road

Published 8:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2015

by Dr. Don Newbury

There is much to be gained–we’re begged to believe–in exercise engagement, even if it’s simply kicking cans on down the road. In so doing, however, we’re guilty of more than “messing with Texas.”

Don’t look now–or maybe you should–but the cans are stacking up. So many–from the White House, state house, courthouse and finally to our house–litter our world. If the issue reaches the court–and I guess it already has–in baseball parlance, we’re out by a country mile. Much points to ours as being a “throw-away” culture. Junk is a four-letter word, remaining so even when garage sales advertise “junque,” hopeful that such wordplay results in cars slowing, braking and sometimes backing up. Much still is “junk,” no matter the spelling. It’s sorta like folks trying to upgrade their mongrel “Fido” with a spelling change to “Phydeaux.” Junk–like roses of any other name–remains refuse. And, no matter how the name is spelled, “Fido” remains a dog.

Among the leaders in “can-kicking” are aging parents. Refusal to argue on what should be retained or thrown away results in mounting “stack-ups” in attics, garages and storage sheds. Toes bloodied by kicking cans, we supply the kindling for our kids who one day may “fire up” in needless arguments on not only what goes and what stays, but also “who gets what.” We’re more likely to prepare last wills and testaments and/or funeral instructions than to keep what should be kept and toss what should be tossed.

There’s no end in sight; we are spilling over. Why is a community that can barely support one drive-in grocery graced by two storage rental places?

Junk grows, progressively less likely to be mistaken for treasures. Optimists thinking junk to be valuable believe that geese laying golden eggs will return, hopefully in flocks or gaggles.

It is no surprise that companies rescuing us from our junk are on the rise. Junk King’s Fort Worth franchise is ratcheting up awareness. The company is offering $128 worth of junk removal at 54-percent savings; customers are offered the deal for $59. Word from the thicket, where my 103-year-old Uncle Mort holds forth, is that he saw the ad and is, uh, negotiating.

Trouble is, my kin–perhaps the guy giving the word “reprobate” unprecedented usage in East Texas–can’t come to terms with the pick-up guy on what his junk is worth. Things are backwards. The same stuff he was trying to sell for $5 last month he now feels is worth less than 5 cents.

An extreme example is his long-trumpeted “hatchet George Washington used to chop down the cherry tree.” He was asking $100; now, it’s valued at a nickel. He’s admitted it’s had “four new heads and five new handles.” He’s also confessing manuscripts may have been over-blown–one possibly written by Dr. Seuss, and another, To Kill a Sparrow, may not have been a forerunner of the one about the mockingbird. Should the company take Mort’s bait and run with it, his call to “1-800-Got-Junk” will necessitate a freight train instead of a pick-up truck.

Mort says he is a descendant of a long line of “contrarians.” He claims his great-granddaddy, resident of a Maine coastal village, saw no need for a new lighthouse. Instead of signing the petition, he started another one for a “heavy house.” Neither petition ever gained traction.

Another granddad, faced with a “where-did-we-come-from” query from a grandson, told the Adam and Eve story, with all the biblical “begats and begots.” The lad later asked his grandmother. She claimed we’ve “evolved from monkeys.”

“You lied to me, Granddad,” the kid charged. “No, I didn’t,” he countered. “She was talking about her family.”

Now, back to Mort’s wrangling with the “man from junk.”

They seem to be in a stalemate of the decade, if not the century.

If given the chance to recommend, I’ll suggest the Junk King people simply ask Mort to serve in an “advisory role.” He’ll brag widely that he’s been named an advisor for Junk King. “They said if they ever need my advice, they’ll ask for it.”


Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: Web site: Columns archived at, newbury blog.