It was around 11pm on a Saturday night when we arrived at Central Market. We were in the back ally, moving toward our dark target: the dumpsters.
There were six of us. Five were novices. To heighten the excitement, some of us intentionally wore dark clothes, as if we were spies with a secret mission to accomplish. The walk from our car to the dumpster was uncertain for me because I couldn’t shake off my nerves or my sense of guilt—even though I wasn’t breaking any laws. Before committing myself to this sneaky mission, I made sure to do my research; I found out that as long as dumpsters are not in private property, anyone can dumpster-dive and claim what they have found under the Law of Salvage without being charged with trespassing (The Law of salvage has an origin in maritime law, interesting!).
The sounds of our steps and opening the dumpster lids were magnified in the vacant parking lot in the dead the night. Fortunately, there was no one else around, though I constantly looked over my shoulder and imagined that someone was watching us. With our flashlights (who knew that my headlamp would come in handy other than when I am biking), a pile of greens appeared in front of us. As our leader dug further, we saw blueberries, pomelos, persimmons, peppers and apples. Almost all of them were in good conditions, despite few spots here and there. With the sight of those fruits, I forgot my fear and balanced my waist on the edge of the dumpster and reached for my persimmons.
Our mission at this stop was fruitful. Several of us were holding boxes of fruit as we headed back to our vehicle. With our adrenaline rising, we urged the leader to think of more places for us to dumpster-dive, wanting to treasure hunt more and craving more adventure. We dropped by several more locations, some grocery stores and bakeries. Those stops were not as fruitful, but we found a slightly-opened bag of bread at Texas French Bread and a scattering of bagels at Einstein’s Brothers Bagels that, unfortunately, couldn’t be salvaged.
Nonetheless, the mission was successful. We rescued some food and had our first visceral peek into dumpster-diving. For those of you who just heard about dumpster-diving for the first time or have heard of it but do not know what it is about, I hope this post has provided you a clearer image of what dumpster-diving is like and has sparked a desire to experience the thrill first hand.
My persimmons were delicious.