We have five big pine trees in our yard, each with a seemingly never-ending supply of cones that slowly ripen and drop off. So, throughout the year, instead of gathering them up and dumping them, we save them for friends who use them for their fireplaces in winter. They also make great barbecue starters.
The last couple of winters have been pretty mild, so our collection hadn’t diminished by too much. In fact, where they were stored started to look like a junkyard, with fertiliser bags bloated with pine cones toppling over and spilling their loads everywhere.
So, this year I decided to “recycle” them: put them in plastic bags and place them on the footpath, with a big “FREE CONES” sign hanging over them.
The idea was that they could be used as decorations on Christmas trees with a bit of Santa snow sprayed around to cover up the whitened bird droppings. The artistic ones among us make wreaths of them, winding ribbons around and decorating them with bells and holly and stuff. They look pretty good hanging in windows and on doors.
The first day, I filled about a dozen plastic shopping bags with cones and put them out on the footpath to await results. Nothing – they stayed there overnight and were still there the next morning, neglected cast-offs without a home to go to (except back to ours, or maybe the dump).
We live on a main road with a lot of passing traffic and they had a lot of “exposure”, as the real estate floggers are prone to say.
They remained there for most of the following day, but, finally, late in the afternoon, they’d disappeared. “That’s nice,” I thought. “Some people must have seen them and cottoned on to the Christmas decoration idea”.
Early the next day, another dozen or so bags found their way out to the footpath to join the spirits of their departed friends. I checked on their progress periodically throughout the day. The last time I looked, I saw a bloke walking across the road to his car with three bags in his hand.
“Great!” I thought. “He’s found a use for them”. Then he lifted the boot lid and threw them in, joining the pile of nine already in there. “That’s a bit weak” was my second thought. “You’d think he’d have the decency to leave some for the next person”.
No worries, next day I dutifully piled another 10 under the sign and went out. When I came home, they’d gone, so I took the sign down and bundled up a new lot of 10 for the following day.
Tomorrow came, and I’d no sooner deposited them on the footpath and turned around when I heard voices. A woman and her two kids were wandering over to their car, their hands full of bags and me with an empty spot where they used to be. About 15 minutes went by. Foolishly, I’d forgotten to take the sign down – how dumb can you get?
Then the front door bell jingled one of its selection of 16 tunes. “Where’s the free ****in’ pine cones?”, came from this character nearly filling the space normally occupied by the door.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “Today’s lot have already gone – went about a quarter-hour ago”.
“Got any ****in’ more?”
“Well, tomorrow I will”
“Ya’re weak as piss! Still got your bloody sign up out there, mate. Oughta take it down if ya don’t got any free ****in’ pine cones to give away”
“I … I … I’m sorry. I’ll try to do better tomorrow. OK”?
“Yair, see ya ****in’ do. Hooroo”
It’s nice to know the Christmas spirit is alive and well!
Thanks to John for sending this piece through.
Have you had a similar thing happen to you when you were just trying to be generous? Tell us about it below!