This morning I got about halfway to work and realized I had left my lunchbox at home. I was bummed at the time, but it turned out to be fortuitous.
Driving back from town with a footlong sub, I spotted something in the road. Something that looked like a tool. Naturally, I stopped to check it out. Turns out it was a very nice pair of adjustable pliers. They were lying in a particularly rough patch of dirt road, so I imagine they just bounced out of a truck bed due to the ridiculous washboards.
Today's find got me to thinking about my habit of stopping and picking up stuff along the road, it's origin, and if anyone else does it.
I don't think I was born with this trait, but if I was it was definitely honed during two summers while I was in college. I worked as a summer intern for the Highway Department and those guys were pros at finding all kinds of good stuff along roads and in ditches. Some were better than others, but all of them would take any opportunity to grab a 5 gallon bucket seen lying in a road ditch. I witnessed a few unbelievable feats of dump truck driving as they would jockey for position to pick up a prized bucket.
I don't think I ever found much other than a few wrenches during that time, but the competition for "road treasure" definitely honed my skills to well above average.
That was about 20 years ago, and I still find treasure every now and then. I think it helps that I do quite a bit of driving for work and travel many miles of highway every year. It's probably not the best driving practice, but I do find myself checking out the shoulders and ditches for goodies a lot.
As I was contemplating these things over my sub, I tried to come up with my best find along the road. There was that time I found $20 on a pile of plowed snow, several quality buckets, and a 16" Cresent wrench.
But I think my best score was when I found a pristine milk crate along a rural highway. A milk crate? That's not that special. However, when I stopped to get the crate I discovered two chains not 20 feet away. Both of them were practically new, 3/8" chains about 12 feet long. I keep one in my work and personal trucks as tow chains and they have both been used several times.
About the time I finished the sandwich, the morality of picking up "stuff" (the wife might call it junk) along the road came into question.
Is it considered stealing? What if the person comes back looking for whatever they have lost? Should there be a time frame for a "grace period" after something comes to end up along a road before it's to pick it up?
I'm not sure if I have the answers. I think once it hits the road or ditch, then it's fair game. Then again, I might not feel the same if those were originally my pliers that I had paid good money for and then lost...
Does anyone else "treasure hunt" along the road? I know I can't be the only one. Last week I spied a receiver hitch insert along a lonely stretch of road and made a mental note to stop and pick it up on the way back by. Well, when I came back through a few hours later it was gone. So I know there's at least one more person out there that does it.
Keep your loads secured and tailgates up.