Several years ago, the appearance of a Goodwill donation truck in the local commuter lot prompted a running gag in our family. The truck sat there in plain sight of the interstate indefinitely. Might even still be there. I don’t know. We moved a few months ago. After donating 40% of our belongings to Goodwill, actually.
Anyway…Every time Merkin and BratzBasher drove past, they’d speculate on what sort of items might be dropped off there. After spotting a volunteer sitting in the back of the truck one day, they had a little story going about poor Henry, an elderly man whose wife decided he didn’t match the furniture anymore. Poor Henry was left to await collection in the back of the Goodwill trailer. Why do I mention this? Because it turns out that there is a surprising amount of leeway in what you can donate to Goodwill.*
I dropped BB off at college this morning and spent a little time wandering the local Goodwill. You never know what bizarre things you might find, and I sometimes send photos of funny discoveries to BB for her to look at between classes. Last week, it was a 4-ft-tall chili pepper plushy with a mustachioed grin and a sombrero. This morning, I was so stunned by my discovery that I forgot to take a photo. I’m sure y’all will understand why. It was sitting on the top shelf of an end-of-aisle display featuring decorative knick-knacks. It looked like a large, white, ceramic egg (about 6″ tall). I turned it around to see if there was any sort of picture or design on it. Maybe it was an Easter decoration? It was completely unadorned, but it seemed oddly heavy, so possibly a bookend? I hefted it up off the shelf to confirm that it was definitely heavier than a hollow, ceramic egg should be. That’s when I noticed the plug on the bottom. It looked like what you see on piggy banks. It didn’t rattle*, so there were definitely no coins inside. What the heck is in this thing?
Any guesses? I hadn’t a clue myself, so I wiggled the plug out and peeked inside. Oh My Lanta. It was a plastic bag filled with ash. As ridiculously unbelievable as it seemed, there was no doubt in my mind that I had discovered an urn. An occupied urn. I cast about for an employee and found an older woman stocking the shelves. “Ahem. Excuse me, ma’am? Are you aware what this is?”
The woman gave me that I-just-work-here look and said, “People donate stuff, and we sell it.”
“Um…this is an urn. And it’s full.”
Her eyes got really big. “No. You can’t be serious. Are you sure?”
I unplugged it again and showed her the inside.
“Good Lord! Who on earth donates somebody’s remains?”
I suggested that the donor most likely had no idea what the object was. She reluctantly took it from me and half-jokingly wondered if she should take it home and bury the pour soul in her backyard before she came to her senses and announced she would take it up front to the manager. I honestly have no idea what happened to it after that, but I do think it more likely the ashes belong to someone’s deceased pet.
Of course, I immediately texted Merkin, who told me not to buy it. Then I texted another friend who wondered what sort of person you’d have to be to get donated to Goodwill — or what sort of haunting would be suitable for someone who would donate a person to Goodwill. When I relayed all of this to BB after she finished classes for the day, her immediate response was, “I’m sorry, Henry, but you just don’t match the furniture anymore.” I can’t fault her for that since I was thinking the exact same thing. Though, the egg was never decorated. It could’ve matched pretty much any decor. No excuse, really.
*Actually, there’s just a really good chance that what you donate won’t immediately be recognized as inappropriate.
**Yes, I did shake it, but of course I felt bad about that later when I realized what it was. Not that I could have done any damage, but it seemed disrespectful.