Sometimes you don’t need to dumpster dive, there is an alternative. The following is an excerpt from my travel memoir Where the Wind Blows. This take place in western France as I am living with Gail and 10 other people in a five story building they are squatting.
On old bikes we set out through the winding French cobblestone backstreets. An endless maze that Gail knew perfectly. Houses came in close, lack, tall, sleek, like city walls. Parks opened wide, with children playing on the sun warmed grass. Overhead Black birds in thick clouds exploded, explored the air and then reformed in a tight swirling cluster.
“Gail, do you want to go dumpster diving?” I asked, excited to try again.
He pursues his lips and casts his brown eyes down at me for a long wordless moment.
I continued, “you know, going to the trashcan to get food.
“Oh, yea. Recycling, we call it. We don’t need to do it tonight, some of the other squatters went to recycle, they will be back tonight with plenty of food for everyone.”
As the sun fell under the city’s slate roofs we pulled our bikes in front of the mall. “Eric, I know how you want to recycle, so we will. This is a good place. He clinched his teeth in repressed furry “People waste so much, people waste everything, so when the mall closes we will go into the dumpsters and recycle something good. Ok?
“I nodded my consent and we went wandering around the mall. One by one the shops closed. Some food vendors packed their excess food away for the night. Gail smiled. Others packed them in large black trash bags and carried them off behind a door where a hydraulic compressor awaited anything they wanted to forever destroy.
Croissants, baguettes, chocolate scones, so much delicious French bread. A woman tossed them all into new trash bags. “Gail, do you think she could just give them to us if we asked?” Delicious food, but I wasn’t about to step into the hydraulic compressor for any amount of food.
“Hmm, maybe, why not try.”
The woman’s eyes grew and she gave a long pause, her eyes searching Gail, me and the bread. “I can’t give them to you, my boss would fire me, but maybe I can lay them down beside the trashcan.”
Gail gave a quick nod.
Five minute later we walked out of the mall with two huge trash bags, 15 Kilograms of bread, in our arms. We laid them on our handlebars and walked home. For two days we and everyone else in Gail’s squat feasted on an endless assortment of french bread.