My Social Experiment

Y’all might already know that I live in an area that’s rural. It’s a historically black area, and some of the homes are shabby, some are well-kept, and some are grand. My little pocket of woods is in a shabby area. There are some trailers and concrete-block houses, some sheds and abandoned properties. Mostly there isn’t much of anything in my particular area, which suits me just fine. 

I met a man who works as a dispatcher for the 911 system. When he found out where I lived, his eyes widened a bit, and he said that they didn’t get many calls from this area by people of my “flavor”. I think that’s why no one messes with me. They must think I’m crazy, plus all the cats. 

Speaking of cats, I get cat food donations from various folks and rescue groups. When one calls and offers a whole PALLET of cat food, I don’t say no. They deliver it to my gate and usually help me offload into the shed. 

I had one such load a few years back. The canned food expired last March a year ago, according to the date on the cases, but the food itself had not gone bad. The cats were bored with it, and rolled their eyes at me every time I trotted it out. 

Really, I had CASES of the stuff left. What to do? I had given some away in the past, but I didn’t feel like toting the food around. I decided to try a social experiment. 

I put several cases of food by the end of the driveway with a little sign “FREE CAT FOOD”.  And headed off for the day. 

When I returned, the food was gone. 

I did it again the next day. 


I cannot tell you how tickled I was when I turned the last corner on the way home, and saw that everything was gone. I had told a few sensible people about my experiment, and they said that someone could sue me because the food was expired. I told another person and I wondered out loud if a food bank would have taken the cat food if unexpired, and this smart person said probably not because there are non-English speakers/readers who might take the food home, add mayo to a can of cat food and feed it to their children. All good points and well-taken. 

I continued my experiment, shaking up the mix a bit by adding bags of dry cat food, and continued this for a few more days when I had an epiphany. 

Why not put out things I don’t want any more? It would save me a trip to the dump and keep things out of the landfill, plus the logistics suited a person like me. Just drag your junk to the end of the driveway, and see what happens. 

I had several skateboard decks that I put in an empty kitty litter bucket and put next to the stack of canned food. When I got home that evening, the cat food was gone. The skateboard decks were not. 

After all, my sign did say FREE CAT FOOD, not FREE SKATEBOARD DECKS. Clearly my advertising campaign needed a boost. 



So far, I’ve disposed of skateboard decks, mismatched cups (how many cups does one person really need?) and various useless kitchen items, rusty tools, an old bicycle with two flat tires that had been sitting outside for seven years, the red vinyl Adirondack chair with a broken back (do not buy these chairs even though they look super-cute and home-deco-y because the plastic connection between the back slats is too thin and breaks), bags of expired dog food, a wobbly baker’s rack that I got out of the metal dumpster at the dump 10 years ago, a bicycle pump, some pairs of boots and galoshes, and who knows what else. 

The dogs got so used to people stopping that they stopped barking when a vehicle would pull over.

I got rid of things I didn’t need that someone else could use. And they took it away for me. 

I feel like a mad scientist.  In a happy sort of way. 


2 Responses to “My Social Experiment”

  1. sharon Says:

    one person’s trash, is another’s treasure…..I love putting it out for free, always a taker and as you said, better to pass it along. 🙂 Also, great news about Jen, a beautiful dress! Grandbabies soon?


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