On “Dumpster Diving” Response Paper

It is difficult for me to talk about books when I find the intro uninteresting unto itself. You wrote a letter to the dictionary producers to find out more about the origin of the word “dumpster?” So it was published in 1991, maybe you didn’t have Wikipedia to help you out there. Still, I tend to dislike this sort of introduction in fiction – the kind where the writer just mentions some quirky thing he does as a segue into whatever point he’s trying to make. The question becomes why is this important and why should I care? If teachers are allowed to ask those questions of readers, are we not allowed to ask them of writers and of our reading assignments? The first paragraph makes me think of those hipsters in the local community who would totally eat out of dumpsters despite being on the meal plan to be “ironic” or whatever. Granted, that whole movement likely didn’t exist in 1991 so I’m trying to let go of my prejudice here.

Once I realized that the narrator becomes legitimately homeless and is not dumpster driving in the eco-friendlier-than-thou way that local college students do, I had a bit more sympathy for him. The disturbing thing was how much he seemed able to get from the garbage. Who in their right mind would just throw their clothing in the trash when it can be given to Good Will? I guess people do this, but it bothers me! 

The writer talks about various dangers of eating out of a dumpster. One is botulism which makes canned food fatal to eat. This makes me actually a little worried for those hipster kids behind the bakery. It seemed as though the writer had to do a lot of different things to evaluate foods for their safety. He writes that restaurants would throw out food they could not sell but then stop throwing food out when they found out people were eating it. This actually frustrates me greatly. Why would people do this, honestly, why? All that food could be picked up if a freaking kickstarter were to hire an individual to do so and taken to a place where low-income people living off food stamps could get all the pizza some prank-ordering stoner didn’t want. This business would have to be on a bus line so that people without cars would be able to get there. I think food should be a basic human right and hate that people are so selfish as to starve out the homeless person who eats their trash. 

The narrator describes getting dysentery once per month despite being very careful with what he eats. Having never heard of dysentery outside of Oregon Trail (an old relic but whatever), I had to look it up. Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the colon which causes bad diarrhea, according to Wikipedia. Now I am especially sorry for those poor hipsters. Hopefully the bakery doesn’t throw out anything too hostile to the stomach. 

The narrator does not dwell too much on indigestion, and instead moves on to talk about the perspectives he gets on human life from viewing what people throw away. This part is honestly sad – particularly how many deceased pets he finds just thrown in the trash. His takeaway message is that items are not often worth acquiring, and mine is that people seriously need to be less wasteful and more considerate.. 

 

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