Matt LeBretton’s Musings about the Hingham Transfer Station (aka “the dump”)

Dredging the Harbor is a new column exclusively for the Hingham Anchor by Hinghamite, Matt LeBretton.

Matt's musings will include tongue-in-cheek and irreverent observations around town.

Matt lives in Hingham with his wife Michelle, his children Samantha, Abigail and Jake and his best friend Stella the Wonder Dog.  Professionally, Matt is a lobbyist and a lawyer artfully managing to be employed doing the two things most people rank as the least respected professions in the country.  In his free time he “coaches” his kids sports teams.

November 15, 2021 by Matt Lebretton

I have not (yet) seen “Dune,” the remade sci-fi epic about post-apocalyptic suffering, but I strenuously doubt that the denizens of Dune have much on me in terms of, well, post-apocalyptic suffering.

Because I’m a weekly visitor to the Hingham Town Dump.

At first glance, when it’s empty, it doesn’t seem that bad. And it shouldn’t. We’re Hingham, after all. One bin for discarded guys’ yoga pants, one bin for kombucha, it seems straightforward. Hard-working attendants make the place actually function, though I do envy their access to some of those “gently worn” LuLemens.

But the human element is where it breaks down, and I’m not talking about the workers. I’m talking about you and, to a far lesser extent, me. I’m talking to you dude on the phone who refuses to drive past the cardboard recycling area to the empty parking spot by glass recycling.

The only hours on the weekly calendar at which it’s even remotely tolerable to drop off your trash at The Dump (you can be P.C. and call it the “Hingham Transfer Station” if you’d like, but it’s The Dump to the rest of us) are when it opens on Thursday at 7 a.m. or timed with keyhole-satellite precision to the Patriots’ kickoff on Sunday.  At all other times, gird thy loins and prepare for surpassing annoyance and vexation at the condition of the human spirit.

The sign above the entrance declares its presence as the Hingham Transfer Station, though a more fitting epitaph might be “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”  But that’s only legible when one gets close enough. And that’s not easy to do, given the lines that stretch out onto Hobart Street, the hard-working hoi polloi of Hingham idling in our Suburban Utility Vehicles. It takes longer to drop off my -- IMPECCABLY SORTED! recyclables -- than it does to stand in line to vote during a presidential year.

My friends in the diet and exercise community like to say “garbage in, garbage out,” but at The Dump, my operational end of things really only involves bringing garbage and -- IMPECCABLY SORTED! -- recycling in. And it takes a really long freaking time.

It’s reminiscent of lining up, lemming-like for a bar in college. In the freezing cold or the rain. Not much better to do, nowhere else really to go, and everybody’s doing it.

Because there are bright spots, friends and neighbors. As nature began to heal this spring, the Swap Shop Drop Off emerged, phoenix-like, from the pandemic shutdown. I feel very strongly about the Swap Shop Drop Off and have long encouraged my saintly wife and our three not-quite-as-canonizable children to set their commercial sights on its offerings. Except when it comes around to selecting my gifts, which I prefer to come neatly emblazoned with cartoony whales, little apples or perhaps just a Tesla.

And, as I said, the folks who work there are good people. As are the many volunteers.  You gotta have a pretty sunny disposition working day in and day out near refuse from the likes of me.

But what about making their jobs easier? What about a Selective Service-style draft for when each of us gets to go to The Dump? You get Wednesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m., your neighbor gets Friday at 10 a.m. So that we all don’t end up sardined, bottlenecking ourselves until we can squeeze in and then begin to address the recycling gauntlet. So that we don’t all end up ticked off and frazzled and stressed trying to address a relatively prosaic requirement of managing a household: taking out the trash.

(I one day hope to exempt myself on this last point about being disheveled and out of sorts at The Dump, because sometimes I think that we should treat the place a bit like The Met Gala.  Dress well, prepare and preen a little because you never know who’s going to be there, and have one’s car always exquisitely unloadable in orderly, efficient fashion with impeccably sorted recycling. Hingham’s Met Gala.)I want The Dump to endure. It’s a communal place where we can gather and compare notes and briefly humblebrag (nothing bothers me more at The Dump than people that engage in long winded 20 minute catch up seshes while I’m two football fields away from a parking space) and mentally log gossipy details we can later share with our spouses (“You should have seen how many empty Vitamin Sea cans and wine bottles person X dropped off today.”)

And it’s also the venue I’m hoping to use for my next hobby. If they can get the traffic situation sorted out in as orderly a fashion as my recycling bins are, I’m hoping to embark on a wonderful new adventure facilitated by amazing advances in technology and progressive market thinking around currency: dumpster diving for bitcoin.

2 thoughts on “Matt LeBretton’s Musings about the Hingham Transfer Station (aka “the dump”)”

  1. I thought I lost my car keys once in the cardboard section. One of the men dug around in there for me for about a half hour until I finally found my keys exactly where I put them; in the back of my car.

  2. I call this my zen time – my music of choice on the car radio and all that waiting time to myself. If I’ve brought along some good coffee, all the better. It’s a wonderful institution!


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