Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Today I finally got my act together and hit the As-Is Goodwill at Mission and 11th. It's not the Portland Bins, for sure, but it has got its own set of rules which I found totally amazing. The section of warehouse is set up with about 20 bins, each about 7 feet tall with one half-open side, and 5 by 4 feet width and girth-wise. When I first got there, it was about helf-past, and I thought it was kind of weird how there were about 30 people there, just kind of waiting along the perimeter of the space. A small girl was sleeping in a makeshift bed of bathrobes and blankets, and each person was sitting on, perusing through or hunched their own mound of assorted clothes and fabrics.

After about 10 minutes of sorting and sifting, a worker came up to me and told me that I had to put everything back into the bin because a 'changeover' was about to happen. Then an army of staff turned all the bins on their wheels to face the gate so people couldn't take things out of them anymore, and then rolled them away. New bins were wheeled in, but curiously still, everyone was pretty motionless and just kind of waiting around, not even browsing at the visible contents of each bin as they were rolled in. It seemed strange to me, having been seasoned by the cutthroat behaviour displayed at the Goodwill outlet in Portland. When all the new bins were rolled in, a man came around and started yelling names out as he pointed to each bin. It was then that I realized that there were clearly rules that I didn't know, so I stepped aside and asked a few bystanders how it worked.

About every hour, from 7am to 3pm, names are called off a clipboard kept at the front desk in order of their listing and each person is assigned an unsorted bin. Those people ordain over the contents of their assigned bin, and no one can encroach upon it's contents until its overseer discards what they don't want onto the floor, at which point it's free reign. I was initially sad that I didn't get a bin-- it seemd like such a status symbol and I self-identify as somewhat of a thrift-queen. It felt strange to be demoted to foreigner status in a place that felt like my own turf. But going through the discard piles was really exciting too-- I felt like some sort of Radical Salvage Fairy, flitting about mounds of unwanted things.

I had gone to find stains, the more atrocious the better, having realized that very little of my clothing had stains woth rendering into drawings. What this proves is that I'm good at not dropping food onto my lap, but bad at not getting my pants caught in my bike gears-- my clothes may be unstained, but they are tattered and torn into rags. I left the As-Is Goodwill with a backpack full of lace and doilies, hankerchiefs, fur collars, scarves and little bundles of kids socks for 5 bucks. This picture is from one of the better stained things I found-- a great big blue stain, and some smaller crusty brownish/orange ones. I got to the studio at 7 this morning, took a break for the excursion described above, and drew sweatshirt fabric all afternoon for a new drawing about my dad. I had a few epiphanies about my project when I met with Allison today, but I'm too tired to geek out about them right now, so tomorrow, tomorrow, my friends.

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