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Dumpster Diving: Beaten at my own game...

I, like many people who don't have as much money as they'd like to, am somewhat of an amateur dumpster diver. You'll never see me actually go inside a dumpster, mind you, but when I see something nice sitting on the sidewalk with someone's trash, it's mine. Hey, I'm only human.

I used to live in Manhattan, which is a dumpster diver's paradise. There you have all levels of wealth living in close proximity, and you'd be shocked at what people throw away on the street. I've found perfectly good peices of furniture, books, CDs, suitcases, paintings, even electronics equipment just sitting on the sidewalk waiting to be swallowed up by the city...or me. I also lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that has to be one of the most literary neighborhoods in the city. There you will routinely find whole boxes of discarded books on people's stoops. At one point half my book collection came from found merchandise.

All this is to say, I've got no shame and I love a good trash-find. So when I saw what looked like a perfectly good mountain bike next to a pile of trash bags, gleaming in the midday sun like a treasure from the gods...I began to walk toward it with anticipation. So transfixed was I on the bike, that I failed to see a maroon van cruise by me at a good clip and angle suspiciously toward the bike.

"No," I thought. "Please no..."

Oh, but yes.

Moments later a man jumped out of the van, grabbed the bike, and loaded it inside the van, and sped off, tires screeching, gravel spraying. There are no words to describe the disappointment inside my guts at that very moment. I can only say, that in life, the race goes to the swift, but the dumpster diving race goes to those who have cars. Period. Even if I'd sprinted toward the bike the moment I saw it, there's no way I could've gotten there first. For a moment I even debated running down to the bike while the guy was loading it into the van and saying, "Hey, why are you stealing my bike??" Or some other such lie that obviously wouldn't have held up. Instead I walked home in defeat...


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