Once outside, I hastened to catch up with Denny’s retreating back. For such an oddly shaped fellow, he could certainly cover ground quickly, I thought. My own intuition, not to mention his direction of travel, informed me he was headed for the back end of the establishment. A location I was pretty sure held the aforementioned dumpster. Just as soon as I had that thought, Denny abruptly turned left around the corner of the building and disappeared.
As soon as I made that corner, chuffing a bit, I could already see Denny had made it to a lone dumpster that set inside a fenced in area with sagging gate that was partially open. He was just standing there, putting on a pair of cloth gloves. He looked my way as I approached and with a voice of authority to me to, “Hold back a second while I open her up.” After he carefully lifted the lid, a cloud of flies flew out and to my amazement and headed straight for his head. It looked as though a turf war might be imminent, as his flies defended their spot on his cranium. (As I observed this, it occurred to me to remember and pick up a can of insect repellent next time I happened to be at a store).
“First thing you got’s ta understand is proper timing.” Denny intoned while holding the dumpster lid up with one arm and waving his other back and forth. “You see all these flies, DanO? They only show up when there’s lots of wet goodies to be had.” He gave a couple of quick swipes with his free hand, as the flies had gone from skirmish to full battle mode, and then leaned over into the black maw of the container. “Yeah, it’s a little ripe in here today”. I could just barely hear the movement of boxes as he leaned even more deeply. Suddenly one hand flew up with a soggy wrapper filled with some dark mass. Backing out slowly, prize in hand, Denny walked towards me.
“See this? Can you believe it? He began unwrapping the paper towel. “This here’s a filet Mignon thet someone threw out and it’s hardly eit on at all!” Suddenly a frown appeared. “Can you believe my luck, though, the damn thing is overcooked!” Denny looked questioningly at me. “Hey! You want this un?” He extended the paper towel towards me like a man giving up a prized catch of fish.
I grinned like a fool, shook my head no and began backing away. “Honestly, man. You are one sick puppy.” I began to turn away.
“Hey! Hold on a second!” Denny shouted back at me. “Man, you got you some real mental problems. This here is real food and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.” Denny added condescendingly.
“Did you know that over a billion people on this planet are slowing starving to death as we speak? Why over twenty thousand die each and every day!” Denny looked down at the filet Mignon in his hand for a second and the back up at me. “My point is that not everyone is blessed with unlimited resources like you, Densa DanO, and someday even you might find yourself penniless and very hungry.” This last point was punctuated by waving the meat in front of my face. (An action that only served to start a new mass exodus of flies from his head to his hand).
“OK. I apologize, man” I mumbled this while looking down at my feet. “I agree.” I paused for a second to think. “I agree that the way things are going these days, I could easily picture myself doing even more disgusting things then this.” I waved my arm to take in our current surroundings…
Denny nodded and then walked over to the dumpster, lifted the lid and nonchalantly flipped the grease soaked fly infested sirloin package back inside. He then released the lid which banged down with a airtight clang. As I watched this, I wondered how many flies met their end when that happened, but quickly dismissed the thought. At least they would have a great last supper!
“Right O, mate” I said in my best imitation of English brogue. “So, tell me more. Can you give me a few pointers should such a horrid and black day ever arrive?”
Denny, eyeing me warily, began reciting what he termed his four ‘Dumpster Diving Principles’ designed for anyone looking to supplement there food intake. I’ve written them down here:
First, check out your dumpster’s location and contents for potential risks.
It’s risky to immediately walk up to a dumpster’s location and dive right on in. Many times there are cameras on surveillance, or even hazardous wastes nearby, therefore causing the goods inside to be potentially unhealthy.
One time long ago, outside a Hewlett Packard Training Center, a security guard caught a friend name Bob and me approaching a large dumpster that looked might inviting. When the guard yelled at us, we both played dumb, telling him we were doing a research project to reveal how much edible food is disgracefully thrown away. He smiled at us, winked and said we could go right ahead. Well, old Bob, he jumped right on in there without a seconds thought! But, when he came back into view a second later, he was a black as the dickens! Seemed that old HP used that particular container as a repository for discarded ink! My goodness, Bobby shore was the butt of a lot of jokes, over the three weeks it took for that shit to wear off…
Second, keep to large venues and go where lots of food gets tossed.
In other words, find a large enterprise like Consumers. They must stick to a strict code of tossing food that has passed its’ expiration date. This will result in a steady stream of items getting canned each and every day. Also, check any bakeries in your area for day-old breads.
Be circumspect and blend in as much as possible.
Once a full dumpster has been scouted, return to it at an appropriate hour when traffic is minimal (like as in midnight).
Act bold, walk up to the dumpster like you owned the damn thing; I often will wear a construction hat so as to look official. Then quickly, forage like mad and collect everything you can. Carrying a grocer’s bag from the market can help conceal your real prurient intent and also makes a great carryall for all them goodies.
Get your bounty home tout suite.
“When you’ve filled your bag, move out quickly. Once back home, check everything over and wash carefully if needed. Here is where you can discard any products you feel are not edible.
In the end, it is under your discretion of what to eat and what to toss. Me, I eat purty near anything!
Also, it is good to note whether or not any other ‘divers’ are close to the dumpster. For example, if a community of homeless people resides near a source, be respectful and leave it to them.
These are the foundations of dumpster diving, or reaping off what other people call “waste” when, in actuality, it can be spared and used as necessary fuel.
Treat it as an art form and you will soon find yourself with a free meal, and an intriguing way of discovering how to travel, eat and live on a budget.
Put your wallets away, save your traveler’s checks and foreign currencies, and take that dive boy!”
When he had finished talking, I walked back with him into the sanctuary that was the bar with a renewed respect and a growing interest in the idea of what dumpsters might hold. After buying us both a beer, I bid him adieu and headed on home. And, that’s when things really took an interesting turn
[End Chapter 2]