Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Dumpster Diving Do's And Don't's

Hello, my name is Basil and I'm a Dumpster diver.

At work there is a battered Dumpster that is used by about four different companies in the large alleyway where I work. The Dumpster sits behind some shrubs and a five foot tall cinder block wall. I make about four trips to the Dumpster a day, two of those to hide behind the wall and talk to Bianca on my cell. I always take a peek in and see what's what, see what treasures lie in its cavernous maw.

If it's a good day, there will be a ton of plastic bottles and/or cans sitting on the bottom. If so, I hop in, collect my stash, and hop back out. It's even better if the Dumpster is full, then I can collect the recycleables from the top. But if it's only half full, I usually nix the plunge. One reason is what I like to call the "rat factor." I've seen some poodle sized vermin in there, and fear a Luke Skywalker-being-attacked-in-the-trash-compactor type of situation if I jump in a half full Dumpster. Another reason is that one of the companies makes toupees, and they are constantly getting boxes of human hair from all over the world. Oftentimes the Dumpster is rife with empty boxes, bits and pieces of hair everywhere. I'm not one of those people with a fear of human hair, but if you've ever gotten a haircut you know how hard the hair is to get off your neck and skin. I'm okay with my hair. The hair of strangers? Like, grody. To the max.

At our apartment complex, we also have a Dumpster, but there is to be no diving. I get within about four feet, then heave the bag like an seventh-grade girl making a shot from the three point line. If there's an odor of baby poop coming from anywhere, four feet's as close as I get.

Occasionally when I go to take out the garbage, our manager is out there. Digging. But not just digging. Opening. He's opening bags of trash to get the cans and bottles. He's got a variety of handmade grapplers and implements that he uses to get down into the steaming, festering heart of that Dumpster. The first time I saw this I was stunned. Stunned. I always thought that bags of trash were private as a diary. But once I witnessed our manager, cigarette dangling, pulling a can out of a pile of coffee grounds, I knew there was much to learn about the world and I was but a newborn babe.

My Dumpster diving has decreased since observing this violation of the trash bags. But not completely. I can't give up the thrill of the discovery, the sweet "tong" sound of feet on the steel bottom. Part of me will always be up for a throw over the side. But Bianca does have instructions to end my life the second she sees me fashioning an implement.


ursusdave said...

Aw c'mon now, if ya can get into that hairy dumpster ya never know what ya may find in aparment dumpsters. It is shocking when non-d-divers see me dumpster diving but that's their loss because it's about a lot more than recyclables of the bottle and can variety. Go hit on my blogger ID (ursusdave) to find my blog Duckin' and Divin' Techniques of A Recycle Ranger so that maybe ya can get inspired to dive a little deeper and wider and more often.

ursusdave said...

I don't know why but I just checked to make sure my dumpster diving blog shows up when you follow the ursusdave link but it don't show in the profile. Maybe it can only show 3 blogs. The address is www (dot) duckndive (dot) blogspot (dot) com
It is linked to my blog "The Way That I See It Is..." but not the other two on the profile.
But any way--keep yur eyes open, yur nose closed, and Dive! Dive! Dive!

Zachary said...

I made a living one summer when I was home from grad school by dumpster diving and selling my finds. Quite a bit of scrap metals, and consumer goods. Pretty good money for the amount of work I actually put into it.