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A monkey's evolution from trash to mascot

Staff writer

Meet Moe. He’s a stuffed monkey. Presumably, someone loved him once, but things didn’t work out, and Moe was thrown out with the trash sometime before Christmas.

Lucky for Moe, employees down at Marion County Transfer Station have a soft spot in their hearts for discarded toys like him.

“I was in the pit, and I kicked the thing, and I thought, ‘Dang this thing’s ugly’,” equipment operator Joe Vinduska said. “It came out of the trash truck, so it had a lot of ‘schmang’ on it.”

“Schmang” is anything from “dirty diaper juice to mayonnaise,” he said.

Vinduska tried kicking Moe into the semi trailer underneath the station’s main floor, but the monkey missed the trailer and startled coworker Doug Hanson in the dark below.

Later as a prank, Vinduska placed Moe on the floorboard of the semi Hanson drives.

“It scared me,” Hanson said. “I jumped back when I opened the door.”

However, Hanson’s initial fright blossomed into something warmer and eventually he took Moe home.

“Moe is Doug’s baby,” Vinduska said. “He named him.”

While Moe was on sabbatical at the Hanson home, Hanson’s wife, Autumn, designed a Moe-sized safety vest similar those transfer station employees wear.

Donning a Santa Claus hat, Moe was all cleaned up when he went back to work.

“It’s kind of a rough environment, but we keep it PG around here,” transfer station employee Martin Combs said. “Kids like to see Moe when they come recycle with their parents.”

Combs accessorized Moe with a pair of sunglasses.

“Moe’s got a lot of history here,” Vinduska said. “He stays on the shelf by the door and greets everybody.”

Thanks to Hanson, Moe can now perform his greeting duties more efficiently.

“Doug put some wiring inside Moe,” Vinduska said. “And he put a brick in his butt so he wouldn’t blow away in the wind.”

The wiring extends into the arm and hand enough so that Moe can hold items like an American flag Hanson plans to give him for Independence Day.

“I guess he’s kind of a mascot, but it’s just humor,” Hanson said. “The wire makes it more functional, now Moe can wave.”

Last modified Feb. 4, 2015

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