“Oh my god do you think they’re closing?”
We were standing in front of our favorite Konsum, pretending to be on a late-night stroll while waiting for the S-Bahn to haul away the twenty people standing across the street. We both looked at the boarded up windows and missing sign with furrowed brows.
“No look!” Markus said. “The shopping carts are still there. They’re probably just renovating.”
I sighed. “I fucking hope so.” That dumpster is the yogurt and expensive cheese dumpster, and my personal favorite. And if the Konsum here closes, there won’t be any more Friday night bike rides ending with bags full of Brie and mozzarella-tomato kabobs and chocolate covered bananas and crème pudding.
I slid under the fence and started filling my bag. “Do you like Jell-o?” I asked. Markus was leaning casually against the other side of the fence, keeping watch. People always see us; there’s a S-bahn station across the street and a popular brewery next store. But besides the well-dressed couples whose steps quicken when they see a pair of legs hanging out of a trash can, no one ever seems to care.
“Na I hate Jell-o. Are there any more of those fruit juices though? They were really good with vodka.”
A tandem bicycle is the ultimate dumpstering vehicle. Or it would be, if we had a working trailer. Even without it we can fill two backpacks, strap a box to the luggage rack, and then bike home, with the person in back balancing another box in their arms.
At our other regular stops, a Konsum and a Netto across the river, we fill our bags with vegetables that I can use for the vokü—eight cauliflower, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, zucchini, and broccoli. I balance a box of oranges in my arms, and we pedal home.
It is usually our last stop, but the adrenaline had us back out on the street after unpacking the booty. Before leaving, I looked at the ceiling and dictated a short letter. “Dear Dumpster gods. I need some more vegetables for cooking tomorrow, and stuff for the salad. Thanks.”
It’s almost joke. Almost. It’s more like a budding diy folk religion. I’ve never asked the dumpster gods for something and not found it in the next days or weeks. Starts to make you feel like the universe is watching out for you. Starts to make you forget about being afraid: afraid there won’t be enough food or a roof over your head, and remember about living, passionately and unapologetically. And all because of a bunch of trash.
This time we rode to an Edeka whose containers are always full of pinapple rinds and that smell like fruit and garlic. Every container we opened got better and better. First some of the usual suspects: a few yellow bell peppers, apples, and enough broccoli to fill out my soup at the vokü the next day. In the next container we found mushrooms and a bag full of hot chilis that we strung and hang in the kitchen. And then—buried treasure!—an entire garbage bag filled with bread. We took the entire thing out and drug it around the corner. It was too heavy to just be bread, and at the bottom of the bag we find ten packages of asparagus, and ten more of children’s salad. “Vegetables for cooking tomorrow and stuff for the salad.”
Dear Dumpster Gods, You are fucking fantastic. Love, Nikki.