May 2008

I think of our son Nick’s new “hobby.”  Specifically, climbing into dumpsters and pulling stuff out of the trash. 

When Nick was three years old he was already eating off the adult menu.  Other kids around him were eating grilled cheese and soggy fries; he was ordering swordfish.  My husband Lynn and I went to Naples a few years back.  Yes, the trash in Naples is legendary.  Actually, it’s horrific.  Nick’s grandmother on his paternal side was born in Naples.  I have to wonder, if he saw the trash in Naples, would he be as keen on pulling stuff out of the dumpster and eating it?

Apparently the biggest haul in New York City is at NYU.   The kids leave their dorms around the end of May and throw EVERYTHING out.

“Mom, I have enough Pantene to open a hair salon,” he says.  “Plus, any kind of laundry detergent and dryer sheets you want.”

I remind him he breaks out in a rash when I use dryer sheets.

“Plus,” he continues, “I got (sic) tons of computer paper, ink, art supplies, toaster ovens (still in the original boxes), and for some reason socks.”

“Do you need an extra comforter?” he asks me. 

I’m tempted to ask him the color of the comforter but I’m trying not to encourage him.  Apparently, the list of stuff that kids take to expensive private schools is endless.  Is it that the rich kids are too lazy to take any of this stuff home, or they are so rich they just buy more of what they’ve left behind?

It’s the stuff he pulls out of the trash though that he takes home to eat that skeeves me.  He gets “fresh” bagels that bakeries don’t sell and “dumpster” at the end of the night.  He’s told me on more than one occasion that the bags of bagels he “rescues” have still been “hot.”  I try to tell him they’re probably “hot” because they’re decomposing. 

He also frequents some very well-known food stores in downtown Manhattan “dumpstering” still-cold yogurt; fresh pasta (thrown out because it supposedly “expired” one day prior), those ready made salads in the bag (again because of an expiration date); chocolate bars, cereal, tea, rice, and coffee beans. 

Through high school Nick worked at a convenience store and told me they routinely threw stuff out not because it had expired but because they needed to make room on the shelves for new merchandise coming in.   Welcome to America!

I try to talk to him about catching something, like hepatitis. He insists on giving me a bag of coffee beans.  I take it and make coffee in the morning.  I live to write about it.

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