I'm taking this home! December 16, 2022 8:05 AM   Subscribe

This post started me thinking about found objects that I intentionally brought home. My favorite was a five drawer dresser, what's yours?

The Intruder thread really got me thinking about items found over the years and incorporated into our lives. My favorite: I was driving home one night after being at the bar (ahem, drinking was of course involved). I passed by a tall dresser someone had put to the curb. I was giggling my head off, trying to manuver this thing into the back of my truck alone (I'm a short, curvy girl) and stay quiet as it was 2am. The next day I needed help getting it out!

That dresser survived two marriages and several moves. It's only one of many found items I've collected over the years, but it's my all time favorite. I'd love to hear yours.
posted by annieb to MetaFilter-Related at 8:05 AM (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

I live in New York City and so this is how I obtained about one-third of everything I own.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:11 AM on December 16, 2022 [13 favorites]

Well, I mean I found this guy when he wandered into the record store where I was working. I took him home. He stuck around.
posted by thivaia at 8:58 AM on December 16, 2022 [12 favorites]

I've gotten so many great things off the sidewalk, but especially lots of books.

There's a book called French for Reading by Karl Sandberg. I'd seen people recommend that book many times on language-learning forums (as well as here on AskMetaFilter). I'd looked for it online but it tends to be way more expensive than most used language books (ABE currently has it for over $50).

One day I was walking down the street and saw a few books on the sidewalk, and one of them was French for Reading. It's so rare to find a sidewalk book that you've actually been thinking about buying!

Another great sidewalk book, one I'd never heard of before finding it on the sidewalk: All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders.

More recent delightful finds: a two-drawer filing cabinet (drawer action isn't GREAT but perfectly acceptable) and a tiny hedgehog finger puppet.

Great question, annieb! Thanks for posting it! I'm looking forward to reading everyone's answers.
posted by kristi at 9:02 AM on December 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

A papier-mache owl

A plastic rosary

Coins with holes in them

Some really good boots that were left for free

Various paintings
posted by Kitteh at 9:22 AM on December 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

thivaia that guy looks awesome!!
posted by supermedusa at 9:28 AM on December 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

I live in New York City and so this is how I obtained about one-third of everything I own.

I grew up poor in the suburbs and my mother was an inveterate garbage picker, for obvious reasons. Lots of things in our house came off the curb, but in particular, there was a dresser that I used from about the mid-80s until I moved out.

I still own this dresser. It was an ersatz changing table in my daughter's bedroom for a while, and now it's in our bedroom again.

Whenever we have something nice to get rid of, we put it out really early the day before garbage day, and it never, ever makes it into the truck. Someday maybe that dresser will go on to spend another 40 years in somebody else's house.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:16 AM on December 16, 2022 [10 favorites]

When I was in college, I found an African violet that had been thrown out. I brought it home, put it in a pot and named it Dave. Dave has moved with me every time I moved and 40 years later several Daves (divisions or rooted leaves from the original plant) still sit above our woodstove.
posted by Redstart at 11:03 AM on December 16, 2022 [14 favorites]

One fave — a giant painting in an alley depicting a scene (I think) from a Drive By Truckers song. It was a nice piece, but big enough that it didn’t easily fit anywhere in my apartment at the time. Eventually I got tired of shuffling around it and sold it for a couple bucks at a stoop sale. That came after a couple years of offering it to friends who all uniformly would admire it and then pass on it because they didn’t have room either.
posted by cupcakeninja at 11:15 AM on December 16, 2022 [1 favorite]

In college we called moving-out-of-the-dorms season Hippie Christmas because we'd find all sorts of cool stuff. Because of Hippie Christmas, to this day I have never paid for an ironing board.

My other favorite is Bud Bacon, a keychain flathead screwdriver with "Bud Bacon" printed on it. Why? I found it in a box in our attic and nobody knows where it came from. It's the perfect size for prying up picture frame points to get art out, which was part of my job for 10 years. Also good for assorted prying etc.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:26 AM on December 16, 2022 [8 favorites]

Also! I found a lovely white cotton sweater with beautiful cabling in a dumpster and wore it for years until someone ran into me with cheese toast. We couldn't get the melted cheese out of the cables so it went back from whence it came. RIP the last white garment I ever owned.
posted by blnkfrnk at 11:28 AM on December 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

A great old Carhartt coat with a busted zipper. A thorough cleaning and a trip to the seamstress later, it was in good shape.
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:29 PM on December 16, 2022 [4 favorites]

At a hotel in Italy, someone had left behind the book Air by Geoff Ryman, so I took it with me.

I had with me, at the time, a Kindle which I had no way to charge. And by the time it was time to go home, the charge on my Kindle was completely dead - which was fine, right, because it was my last day in Italy.

Only it wasn't. Because my green card had been accidentally left behind on a dresser in Brooklyn. There followed an extra day and a half of embassy appointments and phone calls with people who didn't speak English. I finally rolled up to the airport with the necessary documentation, but I also had to kill 23 hours until my flight. (I had spent a LOT of money and was entirely mentally and emotionally unable to do any more traveling, so... I just decided to kill 23 hours at the airport.)

I was absurdly grateful to have a very good 400-page book available to keep me company, and to keep me from spending all of my money on the coin-operated internet terminal (which I think was something absurd like 2 euros for 15 minutes.)

(I also bought Freedom by Franzen at the airport bookstore, and I hated, hated, hated that book. And The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, but I have no idea why I like some of her books so much and dislike others with equal fervor. So: Air was the right book at the right time, when I really needed it.)
posted by Jeanne at 12:50 PM on December 16, 2022 [8 favorites]

A copy of "The Player of Games" in a hostel in Český Krumlov in South Bohemia, where they had a take-a-book-leave-a-book policy. It was my introduction to my favorite author Iain M. Banks and The Culture, which is my favorite Luxury Gay Space Communism Utopia.
posted by signal at 12:57 PM on December 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

A mug that inexplicably reads "50 Isn't Fair!" I assume it's meant as a 50th birthday gift but...is it a pun? A reference to something? Is 50 traditionally considered a fair age? I have no idea, and no one here is 50.

Also a perfectly serviceable 8-cup french press. Thanks, neighbor!
posted by capricorn at 12:59 PM on December 16, 2022

My daughter found an armoire in the discard pile near our building years ago when she lived here. She and her friends painted the detail on the doors with blue, purple and silver paint (somewhat messily, but still cool-looking.) She left it with me when she moved out, and it now lives in my spare room holding witchcraft supplies. I'm currently working on making it nosy mother-in-law-proof for her Christmas visit. Draping a string of very jingle-y bells around the door handles should hopefully do it. Although her getting an eyeful of the penis and vulva candles would be well-deserved punishment for snooping. I should put some weird sex toys in there too, just in case.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 1:07 PM on December 16, 2022 [5 favorites]

Another NYer who furnished most of their apartment with street finds. The "local ecosystem" is very efficient in Manhattan in particular... I've gotten a relatively new pottery barn couch (which I reupholstered with a staple gun and some saftey-pins), a perfectly clean crate and barrel rug (pre bedbugs!), side tables, kitchen-ware (all my Pyrex and baking sheets are street found), plates (some of which we still use), many iterations of wall decor (including a no-right turn traffic sign that my partner requested did not move with us to the current apt). Some of it we kept for years, some a few months, some has been painted multiple times, some has been passed a long to friends or returned to the street.

I've had roommates and new to the city friends bewondered; assuming that they will need to furnish everything new; and well, new things are nice, but free +a bit of a scrub is delightful.

My favorite tho, is a pair of somehow indestructible pasta plates that have chickens marching around the edges. We use those daily and have for 16+ years.
posted by larthegreat at 1:20 PM on December 16, 2022 [7 favorites]

In the summer of 2020, I found a decent sized potted lemon tree on the curb on garbage day. I assume that someone's kid planted a bunch of fruit seeds and one of them kept growing and growing until their parents' decided they did not want a decent sized indoor tree. I took it home and put it on our western exposure porch for the summer. Brought it inside for the winter and it bloomed but dropped all the baby lemons. Put it back outside for summer 2021. Brought it inside again for the winter and it bloomed and started growing lemons. It kept blooming and blooming all spring, but I got worried it was going to overwhelm itself, so I start picking the blooms off to better support the developing lemons. Last month, I picked three mature lemons and made a Shaker lemon pie.
posted by hydropsyche at 1:46 PM on December 16, 2022 [18 favorites]

I found a keyring with a wide metal serif "J" on it, on a residential street in a one-traffic-light town just over 30 years ago. I've been using it ever since, but the metal's starting to get thin along the top of the ring hole (right now: 1mm thick), so I expect eventually that the piece will break loose and I'll either have to pay to have it repaired or let it go. Probably the latter, given that I found it (but I am oddly fond of it).
posted by johnofjack at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

I once costumed nearly an entire show with clothes found in a dumpster (we washed them first!).

I also have a collection of Winslow Health & Hygiene pull down diagrams that were destined for the trash that my mother found while substitute teaching.
posted by brookeb at 4:53 PM on December 16, 2022 [2 favorites]

I adopted a kitten that a co-worker found in a parking garage. The cat hid under various cars and made his way into my truck engine and my heart. And that is how I became a cat person.

I trained him to sit and to accept a harness. When i came home from work, I'd put the harness on him, and we'd go sit on my little deck. He would try to catch bugs.
posted by NotLost at 8:11 PM on December 16, 2022 [13 favorites]

I found a partially disassembled baby grand piano tossed in a gutter in West Philadelphia. It had been painted white with latex house paint and was covered with drink rings. We dragged it home and with the help of a friend who was a piano and organ restorer we got it cleaned up and tuned up, and kept it for a few years.
posted by moonmilk at 8:14 PM on December 16, 2022 [3 favorites]

When our University decided to close down and liquidate its print shop, I (a bookbinder) went to get as much paper and related storage furniture as I could haul and squirrel away in my tiny workshop. As I was checking out, I noticed a very witchy handmade broom by the door. I grabbed it, held it aloft, and said, "and I'm taking this too!" And then ran away with it, cackling.
posted by ikahime at 10:48 PM on December 16, 2022 [15 favorites]

At work, I had a drafting desk that needed a tall stool. The stool provided was not nearly sturdy enough to support my weight. One evening, my boyfriend and I were driving in a business park and I saw a tall stool in a dumpster. Stop! I cried! We hauled it home and it was a wonderful heavy duty, comfortably padded, hydraulically adjustable stool. I used it for over 25 years and it was still at my office when I retired. Sadly, I had no place for it at home so I left it behind.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 1:50 AM on December 17, 2022 [9 favorites]

A cow skull. I mean not a fresh one, but a dried-out, bleached and mounted one.
posted by scratch at 7:40 AM on December 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

I found this brown bandanna on the Devil's Slide trail. Being a thoughtful hiker, I removed the clutter from the trail. I decided to keep it, since a sweat rag can be useful on a hot day.

Fast forward to a couple of years later, when another hiker told be about the hanky code and that having a brown kerchief dangling from my back pocket might be sending an unfortunate message.

I still have the bandanna. But I don't wear it in public anymore.
posted by SPrintF at 10:43 AM on December 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

I like to pay it forward, as far as this kind of thing goes. I've had good luck setting out gas grills, large bookshelves, bedframes, a computer hutch, and a few other things. The times I have seen the people who have picked the items up, they have always seemed very excited and happy.
posted by coppertop at 5:59 PM on December 17, 2022 [2 favorites]

When I was in my early teens, my friends and I were digging through the library free bin and I found a shirt that said "Class of 87" on it (which is 10 years earlier than my eventual graduation date). I thought it was HILARIOUS and wore it to school all the time. I still have it, 30 years later!

Of course wearing a shirt that alludes to you being 23 when you're actually 13 is funny stuff. Wearing a shirt that insinuates you're 53 when you're actually 43... not as funny. It may be time to donate that shirt.
posted by silverstatue at 6:36 PM on December 17, 2022 [4 favorites]

Favorite is a craved wood panel with a fighting dragon and phoenix that I found in the trash years ago. I keep meaning to try and look up where it might be from.

People do still leave free stuff out on the corners in SF but I haven't ever grabbed anything memorable here.
posted by oneear at 11:03 PM on December 17, 2022

We got dedicated space in our condo building for swapping stuff. People leave things, people take things. It's great. My most impressive score was a 14 cup cuisinart classic, in great shape and fully functional, but without the blade. Since cuisinart had issued a recall/replacement on the blade, I got them to send me a new one also for free. We put things down there regularly to recharge our karma, after that especially.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:53 AM on December 18, 2022 [3 favorites]

I got two pristine white dining chairs the day we moved into our current apartment. Some nuts and bolts needed tightening. Our new dining table seats 8 and I don’t have the energy to choose a set of chairs.

I’ve also picked up a few small bookshelves from the street that we still use.

We used to refer to the stoop as “Bermuda” because anything we left on it would be taken quickly.

Now our building has a lobby and we just tape a note on things “FREE.” This has helped us shed an ice cream maker, an inflatable mattress, and an air fryer so far.
posted by bilabial at 7:29 AM on December 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

I found this year's Christmas tree in the gutter walking home from the bar a few nights ago!
posted by vespabelle at 11:10 AM on December 18, 2022 [6 favorites]

Living in a college town means there's at least once, sometimes twice a year, periods of great bounty. Many of these are prosaic (free weights, chairs, mixing bowls.) I still think my favorite is an eye-watering blue and black and white patterned shirt made of very polyester, although the full length stand mirror has also been a great score.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:02 PM on December 18, 2022 [2 favorites]

A couple of years ago, my wife was driving down our street and saw someone putting this doll house (including all the furniture) on the kerb, so she stopped and asked if they wanted it. They said, no, it was junk and they just wanted rid of it. She managed to squeeze it into her Veloster and brought it home. I did have to repair the staircase (one screw missing), but it's perfect otherwise. Our grandchildren think it's the greatest thing ever :-)
posted by dg at 3:28 PM on December 20, 2022 [2 favorites]

Twice I've dug things our of a snow bank that I never would have bought and now can't live without. The first is a thin sweat wicking Nike toque. It never occured to me I needed such a thin head garment but I use it all the time in winter shoulder seasons. The second is a samsonite collapsible stool which turns out to be the perfect thing to strap to my tool back and use as both a step and a sit stool.
posted by Mitheral at 11:25 PM on December 20, 2022

In 1979 I found a restaurant style table base in a gutter, along with a whole tree full of plums someone cut down full fruit. I madevplum wine andvgathered firewood. The table base is in my kitchen holding up a 36 inch round with glass, and table cloths. I found another table in the gutter, a wicker round, which I repaired, painted, and I am sitting beside it. I love the freebies best of all. You can buy things, but the stuff that just comes your way is like fated, like it travels with you through time. The plum wine was good, and the gathering of fruit wood in SLC was a tradition whick kept a cord of wood on my front porch for many years.
posted by Oyéah at 7:05 PM on December 21, 2022 [1 favorite]

I really miss college free boxes. And the free box tradition in Montpelier, where I used to live. I have mugs and assorted kitchenware from Montpelier, and I saw really cute clothes there, but I left it for fear of bedbugs. I also found this profoundly silly old book, The War Between the Sheets, that I have been meaning to give to someone who is interested in old sexology.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:03 AM on December 22, 2022

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