One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. This old saying takes on even more meaning when living in the city.
There are dumpsters here. We get to walk out of our apartments and simply toss our garbage – what we don’t want or no longer find useful – into a bin for someone else to take away.
I was tidying and had collected my little bag of garbage to toss into the receptacle. I’m still getting used to this and approach the bin carefully as I’m unsure of what I might find when I get there. Today was no exception.
As I approached I could hear a rustling sound. I peeked in to see a young man with a big smile on his face busily sorting through the garbage looking for treasures. I said “yikes, I’m glad I didn’t just toss this bag, I could have hit you”. He said “no worries mam, I’m a professional dumpster diver, I’m very careful”. I stood there watching him execute his mission with great efficiency. Shoes, articles of clothing, kitchen gadgets all came flying over the edge landing on the ground in front of me. He pops up again with an unopened bottle of water. “Why would someone throw this away” he says while shaking his head.
From inside the bin I hear “I hope you don’t judge me for being a dumpster diver”. I respond from my safe distance. “Not at all. I can see how hard you work and I’m glad that you’re able to find something useful in there”. He took a moment to introduce himself and his friend who was diligently sorting through papers near the cardboard bin. He said “He has all the brains” and laughed heartily returning to his mission.
I went on to share a little story that was very close to my heart. “My son was lost in a bipolar fog for six weeks and told me stories about how he survived. He had lost everything. No wallet, no phone, his medications, his mind, all gone. He did a little dumpster diving of his own. I certainly wouldn’t judge you for doing what you need to do to survive.” He stood up and looked at me. “Where is your son now?” I responded. “Sadly, he passed away on December 1st last year from an accidental fentanyl poisoning.” He looked straight into my eyes.
“I’m so sorry”.
“I know you are. Thank you for asking.”
A security car drove up. “Heh you, get out of there and clean up this mess” “Yes sir. Can you please give me a moment” The security guard reluctantly agreed.
The young man leapt out of dumpster and walked over to me. “May I give you a hug?” “I would like that” He hugs me and once again says he’s so sorry. Locks his gaze with mine for a moment, then turns away to begin gathering up his treasures under the watchful eye of the security guard.
Typically, I just leave something in that bin. Today, I walked away with a treasure of my own.