Wilhelm Scheruebl Jr.







the garbage man

3rd Prize Outterspace

A ringing fills the hallway of my house, I open my eyes and press the button of my watch to start the incoming transmission.

"Message No. 149021 from headquarters.

Good morning. We hope you slept well.

Our team did a great job yesterday. It cleaned up 000,036,299 objects, making travel and space a safer place.

The current figures for space debris are as follows:

Objects > 10 cm - 000.015.392

Objects 1-10 cm - 000.328.481

Objects < 10 cm - 038.229.926

“Your  current area of responsibility is Sector E 002,322.
Be careful and keep the room clean. - End of Message.”

I close my eyes for a second and try to imagine what could be found in this sector, which would expand my collection. This is always the first thought I have when I receive a new message from headquarters.
This was first and foremost the reason why I applied for that job. All those lost objects by the famous space missions of the early days.

I've been obsessed with space travel since I was a kid. How many times have I recreated the scene of the moon landing in my bedroom and jumped from my bed to the floor, repeating Armstrong's famous words, "It's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

We as humans are of course much further now. Rockets are launched regularly, and tourists travel the lunar surface. Another advantage of my job was that it was one of the first to be available to the average normal consumer in space. I was able to combine my love for missions with finding artifacts from that time and was one of the first to leave Earth's orbit! I still remember the day my application was accepted and my training program for the journey into space began. 

We were not only the first to travel into space, but also an important part of space activities. Who would have ever thought that we, as garbage collectors, would have such a great influence on the future of mankind? I mean, after my work in space had begun, I realized that my job as a garbageman, already on Earth, played an essential role in maintaining the Earth's ecosystem. But the irresponsibility and the resulting...  caused by the people on earth, had made it impossible for us to save the entire earth from today's mountains of rubbish. Some areas of the earth where we lived then are therefore uninhabitable today. It seems that we still have a long way to go until we understand how to preserve our habitat and save it from destruction .. if it is not already too late for that.

But I do not only dream of flying into space to make a meaningful contribution, but also to pursue my passion as a collector. I search for lost or abandoned objects that were taken outside of the Earth's orbit and have been floating in space ever since. Like the cameras that were lost on the Gemini 10 mission and the STS-116 mission. The Ed White's lost glove from the first American spacewalk. Or bigger things, like all those satellites still orbiting the Earth. There's some special things you can collect. This enriches my job as a garbage man, so I like it even more.

Just as archaeologists search the ground for special objects, my playground is space - the orbit of the earth and the mystical universe. I search precisely for clues in NASA reports, Космическая программа СССР (Soviet Space Program), Space X ... and whatever they may be called. I'm mainly looking for older, historical parts. But I also collect newer ones, like the parts of one of the first settler ships that travelled to Mars. In fact, I was lucky to be the first to find this one. Of course, I'm not the only one who chases after such objects.

I am one of those junkies who searches for these objects solely on the basis of their own interests. The term came up over the years as we became kind of obsessed with the junk the space agencies left behind. The result was a veritable betting war for the most sought-after junk, to be able to sell it on to collectors. I call them capital raiders! I have always dreamed of space as a place without capitalism and politics. . .

I would like people to see my collection once and learn about our history. I wish to show the human potential we can have when we work together and not against each other.

My "museum" is only a tiny reminder of the great achievements of our past. I have no capitalist aspirations. But it is also a reminder that we colonized space not only because of the outstanding development of technical progress, but above all because we treated our beloved Earth irresponsibly and turned it into an uninhabitable planet. We had to flee from our own garbage! ... and now it continues here in space.

© Wilhelm Scherübl Jr.