In honor of Buy Nothing Day, here’s a little tale from Andy “Cotton” Sarjahani, whom you may remember from his work on food waste. Sarjahani told me recently that he had met an eccentric drifter who saw dumpster diving as an essential part of his life philosophy. I asked if he’d be willing to write up the encounter for everydaytrash.com and he was kind enough to do so. Enjoy.
Bo Knows Dumpster Diving
A few weeks ago, while filling up my ’97 Toyota Corolla (Marilyn – after “Marilyn Whirlwind” on Northern Exposure), I noticed a fellow holding up a sign saying that he was hungry and needed food. I was pretty hungry myself and since I do sustainable food systems/food justice work, I asked him if he wanted to go get some food with me. He said his name was Bo (Beau?) and that he came up to Montana (where I live) from Oklahoma, in search of “true freedom”. The quest for our “true liberty” seems to be a recurring theme here in Big Sky Country and will also be in this piece. Bo was definitely keen on food, but insisted on Burger King. He stated that the food there was the only thing he liked. True freedom. After an 87 second pontification on the numerous things wrong with patronizing the home of the Whopper, we finally ended up at the deli of the local food co-op. We grubbed on beet and kale slaw, maple mustard pastured chicken, and Peruvian purple fingerling ‘taters. Bo had an interesting story to tell indeed. He is 47, but could have passed for 67 (likely due to the multitude of intense experiences that have bombarded his life). He even had a dog named “Freedom” for eleven years that has seen the whole country. Bo spoke of how cruel the world is, his disdain for “the button-pushers” of society, his days train-hopping, and many other random anecdotal pieces of information.
After Bo and I finished our meals, we bought him some groceries (he was confused that the co-op didn’t carry bologna, hot dogs, and Ho-Ho’s) and then drove out to the Gallatin National Forest to drop him off to head out to his camp site. Bo smoked a bit of marijuana then continued to go off on society’s “button-pushers” and how “weak and insufficient” they are, and how they didn’t know what “true freedom” was. I asked Bo if he saw the irony in this critique of society – I asked him if he felt like he was ever at the mercy of society for his survival. He said no. I asked him if he knew how to hunt and fish and clean/process his own animals. He said yes but he did not do so. I asked him what he did to survive. His answer? Dumpster diving. Bo feels at liberty because he dumpster dives. He then explained to me that he feels comfortable taking money given to him during panhandling sessions and taking it to spend on liquor and drugs. He feels that if you give someone money, it’s theirs to do whatever they want with it and the giver should just accept that. He feels that he can survive off of dumpster diving and use the money given him for self-medication. Here’s what’s pertinent to readers of this blog and what would be interesting to hear feedback on – Bo kept coming back to dumpster diving as his rationale for a couple of his unique philosophies – justification in taking money and using it for self-medication and the safety net for “true freedom” is dumpster diving.
Bo decided that he wanted me to drop him off at the liquor store because he didn’t want me to know where he camped (for fear I might steal his things). When I dropped him off at the liquor store, he gave me a couple of hugs and said goodbye. He was on his way back to true freedom…