Yesterday's job on the dump truck was an all-day affair. We were charged with emptying a house in Fairfax, Virginia, that had been abandoned 8 years ago and unoccupied since. It's as if, one day in 1999, the person had left to go out for a pack of smokes and never came back. The house was fully furnished, the closets full of clothes, and the refrigerator and upright freezer fully stocked.
Mind you, the fridge and freezer had not been opened in 8 years and had not run for who knows how long. Guess who got to open them up and clean them out?
You may wonder why we didn't simply tape the doors shut and dump the fridges with the contents in them. We would have loved to; alas, the dump has a special drop-off point for fridges and requires them to be empty.
My wishful theory that dead and rotten things eventually stop smelling proved off-base. Sickeningly so. The odor that burst forth and infiltrated our nostrils and pores was shocking.
Still, the freezer in particular yielded up interesting things, and I'm not referring to the half-eaten leg of lamb (I think it was). Inside were old plastic containers containing leftovers that had been helpfully labeled with contents and dates. There was chopped basil from April 30, 1982. Eggplant parmesan from 1979 (even if the house was abandoned in 1999, how could these things have been left in for so long?!). There were probably 2 dozen of these containers in all, spanning many years but nothing later than 1984. The 1977 containers of lard are pictured above, as is the stick of butter found in the fridge. The butter, by the way, had become very light and papery and felt hollow. That said, it was not too bad spread on toast.