The Link Between Trash and Memory

If you ask me, there’s a definite link that can be established between trash and memory – and should, if you’re a bridge player. 

I’ve taken a lot of walks, having spent a great deal of my life so far reliant on a mixture of taxis, hiking and walking to get where I need to go. During these walks, I’ve also gotten to see a lot of discarded items next to the side of the road. 

While most people would either call it trash or let it go unnoticed, I’ve learned to treat it as a memory aid.

Here’s what trash has been useful for so far.  

Pointing Towards the Right Route

Sometimes finding trash means that you’ve found the entrance to a shortcut where people frequently discard it. When you’re in an unfamiliar area, there’s no better indicator for routes or nearby spaza shops than empty soda cans or candy wrappers.  

If you get lost in a new neighborhood, follow the trash.

Finding the Way Back

I’ve taken a lot of walks with directions that I either couldn’t remember – or being in another language than I spoke, couldn’t understand. (Bizarrely, I’ve also had people send me in the opposite direction of the one in which I was trying to get to – a common local technique for deterring strangers or new and unfamiliar faces, I’d guess now.) 

It can make finding the way difficult – and finding the way back on the same route harder.

Again, trash helps.

An empty drink can or discarded foil crisp package can be a very useful thing, if you can remember to turn left where you last put it. 

Recalling Cards

Trash isn’t always trash. 

In areas where illegal card games are sometimes played on the street, trash can also turn out to be a discarded deck of cards. 

Usually, cards are thrown to the side as the rest of the game gets taken down.

The other day, I saw a Jack of Diamonds discarded on a street corner. A few towns over, I spotted a seven instead in the same suit (but according to the back, of a different deck) – and of course, it’s a huge memory helper to keep track of the cards I see in strange places. 

Remembering to Recycle 

I can’t say something about trash and memory without emphasizing the importance of remembering to pick it up.

Should you go on plenty of walks yourself, make it a habit to carry an empty bag: Use it for picking up what you see – whether or not it was yours to begin with. (Additionally, if you happen to be a smoker, a small closeable ashtray for the road helps you to stop discarding cigarettes that cause either pollution or accidental fires.) 

There are usually many legitimate recycling initiatives in most neighborhoods: It’s a case of every bit helping to make a larger difference.