The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Well, I don’t have syphilis, if that is what you are thinking, but I do have some cold: a viral or bacterial infection. Maybe I have mono, but I will never know because I don’t have health insurance. I could go to the health center for free, but when they tell me I have to buy prescription drugs, I will only be able to look at them as say, “With what?” Maybe these are the issues we should be talking about this election: why some people can’t afford health care, why the oil companies keep making money hand over fist, and why there are some people right here in good old Muncie, Indiana who eat what others refuse to eat. I saw a guy climbing into the dumpster at Marsh, and I knew from the looks of him he wasn’t doing it because it is a cool thing to do. He was doing it because he had to, to feed his family. I thought to myself, I sure hope he doesn’t try that at Wal-mart. If he does, he’ll be shocked. Literally.

I belong to this list-serve that is for the Freegan community. Not too long ago, I received an email telling me never to try to dumpster-dive in Wal-mart dumpsters because they have recently electrified the bottoms and sides of all of them. Why? Because they get paid by developing countries to export their broken merchandise. Apparently, letting people get the broken goods for free is not in Wal-mart’s exemplary human relations plan; they would rather exploit developing countries and charge them for what Americans don’t want or can’t figure out how to fix. The voltage they have chosen to use is actually of a higher level than a cattle fence, so it is apparently a pretty good jolt, enough to make dumpster-divers well aware of Wal-mart’s intolerance of them.

Weird, huh, how protective we are of our garbage? Look at me honestly and tell me that you wouldn’t be pissed if you looked out the window to see someone rummaging through your refuse hopper. All that strategically wrapped trash, the carefully separated recycling, and the painstaking arrangementof those bags to ensure the closure of the lids and it would irritate you to see some gruff man in dirty clothes digging through your waste. Never mind that you’re throwing it away, it’s yours until it hits the back of the truck. No one else can have it.

That’s a pretty far cry from ethical or moral. Putting aside the Bible—in which we are commanded to not only allow people to glean our fields for leftovers, but we are also commanded to give our second coat to our brother or sister—and looking at this situation from a purely moral and ethical standpoint, how can we even begin to think ourselves progressive, like we tend to do in these United States? I think it’s safe to say that it is only ethical to allow people to scavenge our trash.

I am fortunate enough to have friends and family who understand my desire to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Recently, some friends of mine gave me tons of clothes. Some of the clothes fit me, but others I will be using to make new clothes and some bags that I will either sell or give away. I may make one bag to auction off at our reading for Cella’s Round Trip. The reading will be on November 21 at the Heorot. All four of us (Sarah, Elizabeth, Rachel, and I) will be reading, and we will be raffling off some stuff in order to make enough money to go to AWP in Chicago. We hope to raise a nice little chunk of change. Maybe we’ll even have enough left over to donate it back to Cella’s for production costs.

Look at this, I am supposed to be sick. I’m stopping.

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