Another Suitcase!



Skips seem to be punctuating the landscape in Ireland these days and the mere sight of them sets my mind racing.

For a couple of weeks, every single skip I looked into had at least two old-fashioned suitcases in them ~ you know the ones without wheels?

I longed to know where they had travelled and, of course, with whom.

I’ve only ever had one major dealing with a skip and that was when we were clearing out our late parent’s house. Practically everything that went into it carried memories of some description and it was only then that I truly realised how what can appear to be total rubbish can have very significant meaning for somebody somewhere.

Skips also make me think of an exercise I had to do as part of a course on writing poetry. The opening line was: If I had a skip I would throw away …

It was amazing what emerged as contenders for being dumped in a clear out of life. It was undoubtedly the most therapeutic poem I’ve ever written.

Of course, there’s also memories of the time when our son was obsessed with all things related to the building industry, especially yellow and orange machines!  I was only reminding him recently of the holiday spent in gorgeous Co. Kerry when all we seemed to see were skips, JCBs, dumper trucks, fork lifts …..

Yes, life is viewed through different prisms.

Where do skips bring you?

Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

30 thoughts on “Another Suitcase!”

  1. The word “skip” threw me a bit. Had to look it up for context. Seems the term is common in The British Isles (derived from an older word, “skep”–meaning a basket). But that meaning is not so common elsewhere. More recognized uses here might be to leap lightly about by hopping on one foot and then the other; to bounce or skim some object such as a rock might be skipped across the surface of a body of water, to omit, such as skipping pages in a book or to skip a grade in school, to leave in haste–to skip town, often for less than honorable reasons, or when one or more cylinders of an internal combustion engine misfires.

    Although I have been disposed of on occasion, I’ve spent little time in refuse containers. But after reading your post here, seems the dumpster might be a fine place to go shopping for luggage. And, who knows? The discarded luggage pieces might contain pawnable treasures, or perhaps even a shirt that would fit nicely.

    1. Van, we have the other meanings for ‘skip’ here in Ireland as well as meaning ‘dumpster.’ But a skip is a skip in this country so far!
      No doubt some of the suitcases have treasures buried within their lining. I must investigate more closely.

  2. The contents of peoples lives …how many hopes and dreams that haven’t been realized find their way here. Those suitcases could tell a story or two. We were driving along and came across a whole set of luggage in very good condition..we picked it up and cleaned it up and it’s still in use today..for some trips or as storage for seasonal clothes or craft items…they fit nicely under the bed..We call them “dumpsters” over here in the USA..there are actually dumpster divers that retrieve things that have found their way into them..Some are treasures and some are valuable not known to the throw away person. Certain parts of the affluent part of Boston are a gold mine to these dumpster divers..from old painting to furniture or old fittings…

  3. I was about to say the same thing, we call them dumpsters in the U.S., and I learned a new word and meaning, skip. What a funny word for a trash bin, which we also call a trash can. But yes, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I’ve seen many episodes on Antiques Roadshow where a painting or some objet d’art was acquired from a dumpster. I don’t have too much to throw away. I’ve been an avid purger of “things” for years. I have dissolved three households of possessions into a small car full of necessities. and reacquired new ones for new places. I was a spiritual gypsy for about 20 years, traveling, settling, picking up again. I could pack and move on in two hours back then. Now I live in a one bedroom apartment back in Houston where I’ve spent most of my adult life, having settled for almost three years now. But I find myself wanting to let go of many things now again, and not having the energy or motivation to go through it all, even though it’s not that much to those who are accumulators. I usually give most of my things away, and when I left on my years of travel, it was after two hurricanes in Houston, and I called it, calling in the looters. First I offered my children whatever did not fit into my Mazda 4-door. Then my friends, then neighbors and anyone who wanted to cart things away before I left. In Taos, there was the Free Box, which was basically a dumpster or two where people took usable items, and others came to claim them for free. That’s what I did with all the extra things I accumulated in NM. I went to the free box with a load of items. I found a mother and daughter there who take things to Mexico for family, friends and for sale, so I invited them over to take whatever they wanted of what was left. They took everything, and I was on the road again. I didn’t mean to write a novel here, but it all just came pouring out into the skip. Thanks again for sharing with us.

  4. In Canada we call them dumpsters too (same as US). I associate them with construction and building in general. But they are used widely for many purposes including garbage disposal for restaurants and shopping malls. When i see one that has personal belongings in it , it makes me sad. The same sad as I get when I see small businesses closed up. The end of someone’s dreams or life or job. There’s big money in dumpster rental and pick up and contracts. There are two huge companies here in Canada – BFI and WMI – that do a lot of dumpster work. There are also smaller companies in every city that do it as well. Ha! Funny story: I used to work at a large distribution center for a retail organization. We had a huge dumpster that had a hydraulic ram at one end and we used it for garbage disposal. It compressed the cardboard and such to reduce the number of times it had to be hauled away and dumped. I was in charge of all the trucks and shipping and we hauled bales of cardboard from our stores that we sold to recyclers. One day my boss said that the recyclers couldn’t come so he wanted us to put the bales that were waiting , into the dumpster. well these bales were already compressed from the stores and when we threw them into the dumpster they got compressed even further. So after a few days of this the dumpster was full and the truck came to haul it away. He had a hard time picking it up but eventually got it onto the truck.A few hours later garbage was piled on the dock waiting for the dumpster to return empty when the phone rang. It was the boss at the company who hauled or dumpster. He wanted to know if we had put compressed cardboard into the bin. I asked him why and he said that his truck (*giggle, giggle*) was currently standing on its end at the dump. Bwahahaha! He was very upset. Apparently (and no had ever told me this) you can’t put cardboard that is already compressed into a dumpster that would compress it even further. It makes the density of cardboard too heavy and when the truck goes to dump the load, the front of the truck comes right off the ground and it stands on end or goes over backwards. Ha! live and learn.

        1. Frances, I’d be more than happy to share it if I could find it! I went looking this morning and unearthed all sorts of other things but now think it’s in one of many notebooks that are piled up around me. I’ll keep looking ….

  5. I have some friends who, when young newly weds and without any funds, all but furnished their home with items found in skips – they still have many of them to this day.

  6. First, I love how we name the same item so many different things, depending on where we live. “Skip” sounds so much nicer than dumpster or garbage bin! I have always been something of a scavenger, though less from the dumpster than the side of the road. It’s one of the things I love about Mississippi–just put it on the road, and someone will take it.

    1. Suz, I agree that there is lots to love about the different names we have for things.
      Must say that putting stuff on the road here in Ireland is very much frowned upon as there has been a huge emphasis in recent years in cleaning up the countryside.

  7. I don’t think I’ve ever wheeled a suitcase – too old to start now. When coming to live in Ireland in early ’08 I picked up an old, battered suitcase for a fiver at a charity shop. A bit heavy I thought, but just the job. When I opened it to start packing, inside was an identical, slightly smaller suitcase 🙂

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