Around 5am every morning, you can find me wandering the dark streets around my apartment with my dog Zoe. I am usually very jittery and nervous because I am sure that at any moment I will be murdered by a serial killer. I constantly look for any suspicious people or activity or noise and then, the instant my dog is done pinching off, I bag it, throw it into the nearest trash receptacle and then run/jog back to the apartment and thank the gods I was not raped.
This particular morning, my dog wanted to go out a little earlier than usual. It was because of this change in routine that we were witness to a very familiar scene: Hoards of people sorting through the trash at Trader Joe’s. I have witnessed this while living in Brooklyn, but there, the Trader Joe’s was organized and the trash was not placed in the dumpster til people sorted it for non-rotten oranges or half-moldy bread. Here in Seattle, the bags are unceremoniously thrown into the bin just as God intended.
I did not notice anything at first. I had just finished picking up my dog’s steaming crap in a thin plastic bag and was in the process of throwing it in the Trader Joe’s dumpster when I sensed movement from all directions. Like zombies, 3 people came slowly walking around various corners with reusable grocery bags eager to do their trash shopping. Zoe and I backed away slowly and watched from a distance as they very politely worked together to liberate this semi-fetid feast. This mild-miasmatic meal? This early-hour effluvium?
Anyway, I went to work that day and thought about how common this practice is. I even brought it up with my coworkers. Who are doctors. Nurses. Professionals. As I ended my story, the anesthesiologist entered the room and notified me that one morning that, I may just see him waist deep in waste outside my local Trader Joe’s because he is an advocate of what is called “urban foraging”.
I politely reminded him, the attending medical doctor who makes a six-figure income, that he eats from the same place I throw my dog’s diarrhea. He made some comment about salvaging and I made some comment about disgusting, and the conversation ended, neither side appeased. I also noticed that the other people in the room looked at me like I was kind of wrong.
I never thought I would be in a debate about not eating trash. And I never thought that my coworkers in the hospital would be mad at me for making that point. True, I was unflinching in telling everyone how repulsive the idea is, but that is my right…just like it is the right of any hobo to go sifting around in sewage looking for sustenance.
Convinced that I am right, I now make a point of only throwing my dogs poop in the Trader Joe’s dumpster, no matter how far away I am. As an added “fuck you,” I now never tie the bag close, praying with each toss that fecal matter coats every last item in that bin.