Beware the auction rug

Once burned, twice shy. But twice burned? Let auction rugs lie, my friends — at least without a sniff test.

Such a deal, I thought. My heart thumped as I strangled bidder number 32. The bid was a mere $30. For a 6-by-8-foot wool rug in the perfect colors for my living room.

"Sold! Thirty dollars to bidder number 32. Walk it outta here," the auctioneer sang and banged the gavel. He may have whispered to his helper something like, "Haul it out back." I couldn't quite hear.

I should have had a clue something foul was afoot when my friend, Anni, high-tailed it to my car holding one end while I struggled to keep up lugging the other. She didn't walk it outta there; she sprinted. She was laughing. I thought she was just being silly. But no, she was in a hurry to relieve herself of the offensive burden.

We shoved it in my trunk, and she went merrily on her way after dousing her hands with LiquiPure. On the ride home, I began to detect a strange odor — something akin to burning gym socks. It was late when I arrived home, so I decided to leave the rug in my trunk until morning.

By light of day, I could see it wasn't as clean as I'd hoped. There were a lot of pet hairs — they could have made a rug on their own. Well shoot, I thought.

The specter of a past auction-rug purchase darted through my mind. It had been saturated with pet urine, and no amount of professional cleaning could eliminate the horrible odor. My dog, Brownie, who was pretty old at the time, confirmed that a toilet was all it was good for. It went to the dump.

This rug couldn't be like that, though I knew I couldn't bring it in the house without cleaning it. Even though Brownie was long gone, I now had two cats, and that rug smelled like it had lined the bottom of a male mountain lion's cage for six months. They would constantly be looking over their shoulders. Plus, who wants such a smelly thing in the house?

I became disillusioned by the whole experience, rolled up the rug and let it lie in my carport. I could smell it every time I came outside, but I wasn't bothered by stray cats or possums. It stayed there for the longest time.

Then one day, I decided to be proactive. I bought a special Woolite pet-smell obliterator with OxiClean and a scrub brush. It was a hot, summer day. I dragged the heavy, wool stink bomb out to my driveway and hosed it down. I poured the Woolite all over it and gave it a good scrubbing. There was no way even cougar pee could stand up to this treatment, I reasoned. I sprayed it until there was no soap residue left and then let it bake in the sun.

When it finally dried, the pile resembled hay stubble, but I was sure it would smell fresh and clean. No. Even though many of the pet hairs came off on my scrub brush and jeans, the stink was permanent. I rolled it up and dragged it back to the carport where it languishes to this day. I keep hoping the lawn crew will steal it.

Recently, I roused myself to action once more. I only have about $35 into this thing, I thought. I'll just have the sanitation folks take it away for a small fee. Once I got through to an operator, the conversation went something like this:

"Hello, I have an old rug I'd like to get rid of. May I just lay it out by the can for pickup on Monday, and you charge me a small fee?"

Friendly guy on phone: "Well, how big is it?"

"It's about 6 by 8."

Friendly guy: "Will it fit in the can?"

"I doubt it. It would stick out quite a ways."

Friendly guy: "The best thing to do would be to take it to the transfer station. There's one on Table Rock Road and one in White City."

"You mean, I have to take it to the dump?"

Guy: "That would likely be best."

"Well, what would they charge for that?"

Guy: "I don't really know."

"I thought you could pick up about anything and just charge a small fee."

Guy: "Will it fit in the can?"

"You mean it has to go in the can?"

Too-friendly guy: "Yes. After they dump your garbage, they will put the rug in the can and dump that."

"I only have a small can. Best to take it to the dump, huh?"

Unhelpful guy: "Yes, probably so.

So, the lawn guys blew the leaves off of it again today. Because I have to take it to the dump, maybe I'll just get a tow chain and drag it behind my car. But with my luck, it would come loose, fly across someone's windshield and I'd get in trouble. How long does it take wool to rot?

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