This was an interesting one. I got 9/10, I’m on a roll! And the comment was that I could have given a description of Dubois to help round out the story.
A different kind of moving day
by Sarah Leavitt
Marc Dubois’s apartment is an eclectic assortment of furniture, artwork, and electronics. A fading orange chesterfield dominates the living room on top of a majestic red Persian carpet. Several old tube televisions clutter the floor along with an ancient stereo system with waist-high speakers, wires askew.
Moving day on July 1 in Montreal is usually utter chaos. Moving vans clog the streets, boxes and garbage litter the sidewalks, and movers run around in a sweaty frenzy. For Dubois, a self-described professional scrounger, July 1 is a goldmine.
“So many people leave behind stuff they are too lazy to sell,” he said. “Some of the things are practically brand new.”
Dubois waits until the early afternoon to go out on his search for abandoned items and within an hour, his truck is full.
“I used to look through Craigslist in the‘ free’ section but I soon discovered it was often easier just to drive around and grab the leftovers,” he said. “I have saved thousands of dollars by scrounging.”
Dubois’s entire bachelor apartment is furnished by his scrounging, even his mattress. He has a functioning 1938 Frigidaire refrigerator complete with door latch, various game consoles—including an ancient Atari 2600—and has replaced all the doorknobs with marble ones from what he said was a particularly good find.
While some people get a garbage company to come take away whatever is leftover, most leave unwanted items on the curb. Dubois is sometimes greeted cheerfully.
“I saw [Dubois] looking curiously at my pile of furniture so I asked him if he wanted anything,” said Gary Carvery, who was moving that day. “I’d much rather it go to home than a garbage dump.”
It’s not as easy as it sounds, however. Dubois has gotten into a few scraps with people who didn’t appreciate his‘ cleaning up.’ On this particular moving day, Dubois accidentally packed up a velvet armchair that wasn’t actually garbage.
“The people were in the midst of moving,” he said while grinning slyly. “I was taking their grandma’s precious boob tube chair.”
A few times in the past, Dubois has had to deal with police.
“Sometimes the neighbours who have just seen the previous owners move out don’t like that somebody is coming and taking their things,” he said. “The police are called but it’s just a matter of explaining what I’m doing. Only once did the police tell me to move on.”
Moving day is known to be a hassle; most end up with aching backs and the daunting task of unpacking ahead of them, but for Dubois, it’s as if he spent a day at the mall. This year proved especially fruitful and he is even thinking of retiring from scrounging; it’s that, or renting a bigger place for all his treasures.