Dumped Dinner is an original work of creative nonfiction by me, hikaymm. The story details my first experience dumpster diving. I'll be posting the full story up in parts; hope you enjoy it!
Click here to read Part 1: Finding my Dumpster (http://www.vingle.net/posts/351319-Dumped-Dinner-Finding-my-Dumpster)
Click here to read Part 2: Diving for bagels (http://www.vingle.net/posts/351393-Dumped-Dinner-Diving-for-Bagels)
Click here to read Part 3: Chelsea's Dive
On the way back to my apartment, Sean’s car was quiet. I was not sure why he had not joined me, but diving was just Sean’s hobby. It was Chelsea’s life. I thanked him and insisted he take some bagels. He grabbed a few and drove off after mumbled goodbyes. I went inside and called my roommates over to look at my haul.
After bagging them up and tossing some in the freezer, we counted twenty-nine bagels. I squealed with ecstatic joy at the pastry desserts I found in the box under the bagels. I could smell the fresh cinnamon and bit a piece off instantly. I could smell their freshness. One of my roommates tried one, too—she had worked at Bruegger’s and knew that everything is thrown out at the end of the night and made fresh each morning.
When we took a look at the yogurt and the sauté mix, however, and hesitated. I still had not made up my mind on these items. I grabbed a bagel and wondered into my room to do some work while I munched on it. Is it really safe? Sure, Chelsea said she had never got sick, but would I? Maybe she’s wrong this time. How do I know?
Two hours later, I re-entered the kitchen. I had read and re-read multiple accounts of dumpster diving and how to decide if the recovered food is good or not. I knew the food was still frozen and even the expiration date had not passed yet. I knew where the food came from, a reliable store.
What I did not know was why the food was tossed out, and I couldn’t get past this lack of information. Eighner had trained me to answer these three questions, and I, unlike Chelsea, was not willing to toss out the last bullet point. I grabbed one of the sauté kits and noted its frozen status. I’ll cook it; then, decide if I’ll eat it. My oil heated up quickly. I washed and tossed in the red onions and asparagus, still unsure. My mind attempted to zone out as I prepared a meal I had enjoyed many times before. When I recognized the bright green color of the tender asparagus, I clicked the heat off and pulled the pan from the burner.
I placed my hands on the counter stared at it trying to ease the anxious nausea growing in my stomach. Then, I paced. I shut down my mind, stabbed a fork in the food, and ate a bit. I paused. I waited for the sickness.
It never came. I tentatively picked my fork up again and went back to my roommate’s room, still feeling nauseous, though I kept chewing. She reached over, without a word, and took a few bites, too. Soon, my bowl was empty. She suggested we finish off the pan.
My mind keeps wandering back to the fact that the food came from a Dumpster and tried to tell my body to be sick, but another voice kept repeating: no, it’s fine. You’re going to be fine. I never get sick.
I am not sure I can call myself a dumpster diver. I did not get in the Dumpster. But I did eat food that came from it. The whole time I was thinking of all the sanitation “rules” I was breaking. Chelsea had shamed me into eating the food, and I thank her for it. Since enjoying my salvaged meal, I have been a little more aware of the Dumpsters along my route to and from school. I have gone to Einstein’s ever few weeks and snagged some bagels. Maybe I’ll eventually make a stop at Trader Joe’s if I’m feeling adventurous and trust myself enough to judge the quality of food that I can’t smell. Maybe. It takes time and practice to learn, after all.
Food looks different to me. As I cubed chicken that I worried may have gone bad for lunch, I nearly tossed it out of paranoia. I paused, though, and thought what Chelsea might think if she found my perfectly cubed chicken in the Dumpster. Score! Instead, I kept cooking. I still have not had the heart to touch the yogurt, but hey, it’s looking like a pretty great time for a snack right about now! I don’t want to waste it, right?