She Seemed Slightly Unnerved to Discover Me in the Trash

In Oregon, the lilacs are blooming; in Ithaca it snowed two days ago. My friend Steve Froehlich told me about the snow, and added that he had been dumpster-diving in it. In response to my asking whether he’d converted to freeganism, he told me the story below. Sheryl is his wife; he himself is a Presbyterian minister, six feet tall and broad-shouldered, with a mop of reddish-brown hair and pale blue laughter-filled eyes. And Karl is a mutual friend, the perfect straight man.

“Sheryl stopped by the recycling dumpster at the apartment complex up the street yesterday morning to make a contribution on her way to work. Somehow... somehow... (talk about straining a brain to figger out)... she threw in her Garmin super watch GPS computer exercise calculator that calibrates data from her heart monitor and bicycle to create holographic charts of her workout sessions all to the accompaniment of Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto. Yes, it's expensive. Yes, she's quite attached to her little digital friend. Yes, she was undone. So, she called me from the office to explain her plight, and I immediately set out to retrieve it. It was snowing -- weird wet glooppy snowflakes that had managed to get the contents of the dumpster cold and slackered together. I saw no alternative but to get into the dumpster to look for this lost treasure. I pushed my way through cardboard and lots of other things that are not easily mistaken for paper products but were in there anyway. With the wind blowing proudly, it was like I was trapped in a windtunnel with all the trash sucked up by the wind and swirling all around me.

After an hour of unsuccessful hunting, I gave up, but not before a woman walking her dog came up to make a contribution. She seemed slightly unnerved to discover me in with the trash. When I stood up, doing my best to be cheery and nonchalant, I started to explain that we'd lost something and I was trying... but she turned and walked away before I finished -- clearly she wanted no knowledge of my presence to trouble her consciousness.


Karl is of the opinion that I now have enough chips to cash in that will last me well into next year.”

[Note to the curious: Steve went back for more systematic diving later, and after fully clearing the second corner of the dumpster, discovered the Garmin.]

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