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Busted: Another Diver Is Hitting Our Food Dumpster

I am sitting at a booth at McDonald’s writing this, because our internet connection was cut off until we pay AT&T, that corporation that we ball-and-chained ourselves to a while ago, and McDonald’s, which rivals Walmart for the root of all social decline, has WiFi. Plus, McDonald’s is on the way to the recycle center, where we are headed, to drop off our enormous load of recycle, so that we can reconnect to the world and feed our internet addictions.

We were temporarily disconnected because we actually had to purchase groceries, and even though we bought WIC-approved and ‘Oops, we-baked-too-much’ rack food, the cost of this necessary commodity put us in the red for a minute.

Other people have discovered ‘our’ world of food dumpster diving. Our once reliable supply of groceries is no longer quite so reliable anymore, and this tells me that there are many other poor, hungry, desperate and creative folks living in our communities.

I suspected we had competition a couple of weeks ago, when my husband said to me, “I am Oh-for-three. I have checked for three days in a row and…nothing.”

On the fourth day, we checked ‘our box’ together and found nothing but an echo, except for proof that the Coors-Light-beer-can people, who dump their trash, including their Coors Light beer cans in the dumpster because they cannot afford their own roll-off service, had visited the dumpster. We removed the beer cans, and I said, “We have competition.”

Sure enough, yesterday, we spotted a lady diving ‘our’ spot, just like when the three bears discovered Goldilocks. “Ah-Ha!” I said. “Let me out and go park. I am going to talk to her.”

I grabbed a couple of empty grocery bags, and approached the lady at the dumpster, where she was packing enough food to feed an army, into boxes at the perimeter, and I sing-songed, “Dumpster Diving!,” a short snark meant to cut the bullshit so that we could explain each others’ presence to one another, two healthy, middle-aged, fairly well-dressed, sober, well-spoken women, raiding the fucking shit out of the garbage for food.

My new friend, red-faced with embarrassment, was saying something about chickens, and I thought that she had hit pay-dirt and discovered a bunch of fresh chicken for barbecue or something, but scanning her stash, I saw no chicken. Her stash looked like the produce section of Whole Foods or maybe Trader Joe’s, and she was saying something like, “I asked them and they said it was okay to get some stuff to feed my chickens.”

I was trying to wrap my mind around chickens eating the likes of fresh broccoli, cantaloupe, pizza, red potatoes, cabbage, and about twenty pounds of fresh strawberries, when she asked me, “So. What are you doing here?”

“We eat out of dumpsters,” I explained.

“Oh, my goodness, well, you just go ahead and take whatever you need here. You know, you do what you gotta do. Can you use potatoes? I admit, my chickens don’t really eat the potatoes. They love the grapes, though. But I cannot reach them.”

I helped the ‘chicken lady’ get grapes for her chickens, and took her up on her very kind offer to share, taking some of the strawberries, potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and lettuce, but leaving the ears of fresh corn, on the off-chance that an actual chicken may enjoy some fresh corn.

Then, my hand to God, she says, “I am going to go get my vehicle and pull it around.” And I swear, she backs this huge, gorgeous, black, double-cab pickup truck with a retractable truck bed cover right up to the back of the dumpster and together, we loaded this upper-class looking ‘king cab’ vehicle with a garbage raid. She jerked her thumb to bags of chicken feed that she had already purchased, and said, “You see. That cost me a hundred dollars. Just for the chicken feed.”

I guess that the interesting part of the chicken lady story is that she did not fit the ‘image’ that we all may have of a dumpster diver. In other words, in our country, today as I write this, I firmly believe from direct observation that it is just a hop, skip and a jump before one crosses that thin line into full-on poverty. Even people with money are getting creative.

I am so grateful to have met this woman, and I consider her a welcome kindred spirit. Plus, she is brilliant. Chickens. Who would have thought?

On a lighter note, our recycle/yard cleaning/junk-hauling business is looking very good. If we can stay our current course, I will file a DBA/LLC. In our truck bed today, for example, is a riding lawnmower that weighs several hundred pounds and will have to be off-loaded with a crane, plus an old, rusted metal bedframe/headboard thing that has, I kid you not and I have proof, a pair of old, rusted handcuffs locked to it.

Poverty and class war will bring us together and our creativity will reverse apathy with passion, you guys.

[note: written Thursday, posted Saturday, very sorry for the delay and temporary disconnection- we really miss this community! should be back online soon]

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