Friday, October 06, 2006


Discarding Furniture and Remembering Pongo

Today I dragged an old sofa and an old overstuffed chair out to the curb for the city sanitation department to pick up and take away. My wife bought the sofa at an auction when we were living in New York City in the 1950's. We bought the chair shortly after we moved to California in 1955. We had both the chair and the sofa reupholstered with naugahyde covering. Finally, we acquired a bigger sofa and a more comfortable chair, along with a lot of other furniture. Even though we live in a fairly large house (large by our standards, about 2400 square feet) we don't have room for the used sofa and chair.

I tried to give the sofa and chair away. The Salvation Army wouldn't take them. The St. Vincent de Paul Society wouldn't take them. I advertised them on Craig's List for ten dollars each. (I was convinced that I had to set a price.) Nobody wanted them. Finally, I phoned the city and was instructed to put them out on the parkway next to the curb and they would be picked up on the regular trash pick-up day.

And how does a sofa and a chair relate to Pongo? Pongo was a dog. He was part Dalmatian and had black spots on a white coat. One of the secretaries (Joyce was her name) at the company had puppies to give away and we took one. He was a friendly, lively little dog, about the size of a Jack Russell Terrier. However, he soon became a problem. My wife couldn't yard-train him. That is, she couldn't train him not to dig up plants that she had placed in our yard. Pongo had to go.

One day while our two children were at school, I took Pongo for a ride in our car. He liked to ride and I had no difficulty taking him to the city dog pound. I took him out of the car, removed his collar, and left him with the attendant. Pongo suddenly realized that I was abandoning him and he cried. I will never forget making that poor animal cry. I want to cry myself when I remember him.

I imagine that the sofa and the chair are crying because I have abandoned them, too.
I put the sofa and chair out next to the street on Thursday, expecting that the city sanitation department would pick them up the next day. Friday night and Saturday morning the sofa and chair were still there. Saturday afternoon a man and woman came and in several trips with their car, a medium-sized SUV, they hauled away the furniture. I watched from inside the house as the man leaned the sofa against the rear of the car, then slid it up and positioned it on the roof. The roof was equipped with bars for supporting luggage and other packages.

At one point the woman had come alone to inspect the furniture. She sat in the sofa, then left a note to indicate that she would return later to get it and for anyone else to leave it alone. I copied the phone number from the note and the next day, Sunday, dialed the number. The man answered. He hesitated to talk with me at first, but then I told him that I was very happy that he had taken the sofa and chair and I hoped he would get much enjoyment from them.

I was happy. The furniture cries no more. It is not abandoned to the city dump; another family will enjoy it.
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