When I got booted out of Peace Corps training at Hilo, Hawaii in December, 1964, I dropped off the plane back to the mainland at Honolulu. I went to work in the Hilton Hawaiian Village Hotel Makahiki Restaurant for a while as a bussboy while deciding what to do next.
I was the only Haole working at the Makahike. All the other bussboys were Filipino and the waitresses, managers were all Orientals. The bussboys all worked for minimum wage and a percentage of tips, which still left things marginal as a means of survival.
But I soon discovered the bussboys all had an edge. On my first day, maybe first hour working there I went into the back carrying a huge tray full of dirty dishes and food left behind by the eaters. I’d no sooner gotten out of sight of the customers before the head bussboy grabbed me by the arm, put the tray down and began screaming at me. Moving dishes and pointing at leftover food items I’d mixed, spilled water over, made no effort to keep separate from others.
“Garbage! You made it garbage Haole bastard!”
It turned out all the bussboys kept discarded food separate and put it on a table in the back each time they unloaded from the customer service area. Then, anytime one of us had a brief break in customer demand up front, we’d go to the table and gobble a half-eaten steak, papaya, anything suiting our fancy.
During the time I worked there I ate well. I’m not certain I’ve ever eaten better, more consistently, even during times of affluence.
In the post Could you choose to live on the street? I described a man I knew as a youngster who dropped out of being president of a bank to live under a bridge. I suspect one of the ways he survived involved carrying what I did at the Makahiki a step further.
This video is called Shopping at the Third Hand Store, aka Dumpster Diving. I love these guys. Shopping carts, cell phones, watermelons. Too cute for words.
We have been eating out of dumpsters for a little more than a year now. We have never gone hungry and we have never been sick. In fact, we now eat way better than we ever did when we had money, and our immunity to illness seems to have been bolstered from dumpstering for food.
A while back I received the following comment from Poland on one of my YouTube dumpster videos:
That’s possible only in America!
In Polish dumpsters we have only stinky dump, and i mean it, just dump.
What you have here it’s not dumpster as i know it, just place when people leave useful stuff. I think i’ll just move to America and live from Dumpster diving, it would higher…
74 years old, a resident of Leavenworth, KS, in an apartment located on the VA campus. Partnered with a black shorthaired cat named Mister Midnight. (1943-2020)
Since April, 2020, this blog is maintained by Jeanne Kasten (See "About" page for further information).
I’m sharing it with you because there’s almost no likelihood you’ll believe it. This lunatic asylum I call my life has so many unexpected twists and turns I won’t even try to guess where it’s going. I’d suggest you try to find some laughs here. You won’t find wisdom. Good luck.