April 12 2010
So the other night I was out with Roscoe and we walked past the local Trader Joe’s around 10-ish. Right around closing time. We hooked around the corner and walked smack into a decent crowd of people hanging around by the back bay of Trader Joes. Where the deliveries come in and the trash goes out or whatever. 15-20 people. My first thought was the store was closing and the employees were all leaving at the same time.
But then it seemed like something else was going on. Nobody was leaving or talking to each other. They were just sort of milling about. Seemingly anxious or something. There was a buzz in the air like something was about to happen. Like a protest or something. I couldn’t figure out what was going on so Roscoe and I pulled over to watch for whatever was coming next…
A minute or two later, a dumpster was carted out of Trader Joes. Then another. Then another. And they were parked along side the building. The people waiting around immediately started digging in the dumpsters. Not like a frenzy but definitely rushed. They were pulling out big plastic bags and ripping them open. Inside were fruits and vegetables. Much of it was shrinkwrapped. Like straight off the shelves. I couldn’t see what else was in there.
I was sort of stunned. These people were dumpster diving at my local Trader Joe’s. They knew when the trash was coming out and were waiting for it. It wasn’t the idea of people getting food that way that surprised me. And I was glad the food wasn’t going to waste. Nor am I snobbish about street stuff. (Hey, I got a few pieces of furniture in my place brought in from the curb…) it just was the clientele was surprising. Because this wasn’t like a homeless situation at all. Some of the divers looked like straight out hipsters or parents.
Then I wondered if maybe they were all doing it for some sort of charity? Like maybe they were gathering the food to donate somewhere else? Or something? But it wasn’t that vibe. It was too rushed. Too excited. Plus, if they were a charity organization I’m sure they could work out something better with Trader Joe than having them huck it all in a dumpster and carting it outside “for charity”.
I gotta admit it freaked me out a little. Sign of the economy stuff or whatever? These ‘regular’ people were grabbing up the goodies from the trash. But then again, most of the stuff was shrinkwrapped or in plastic bags– and the food was probably entering their very first day of expiration. It was far from “gross”.
So when I saw some dude walking away with a full plastic bag of perfectly decent groceries and throwing it in the back of his car– I kinda shrugged and was like, ‘Whatever. Pride or less pride or whatever— that dude just got a free bag of groceries! Good for him!’
But still… I did feel weird taking out my camera. So I didn’t.
PS. Here’s pics I took a while ago when Trader Joes first opened…
UPDATE: Apparently I’m a bit of an ignoramusus about what was going on here. (most likely freegans and anti-waste people. not like hard-times people necessarily). And didn’t mean to seem jerky or judgmental at all. In fact, to mention pride was wrong. Now that I’m clear on it– this apparently doesn’t have to do with pride– seems more like it has to do with attitude. Just hadn’t seen it before and that was what’s happening.