Monday, December 17, 2007

I Saw a Freegan!

Today I packed the girls up and drove back to our old neighborhood to pick up those pricey portraits I agonized over. Upon seeing them I coined a new word. Cutiful!

Our foray back to the city was a cultural experience that made me realize how suburban our new home really is.

For one thing, I really noticed all the moms walking around Lincoln Square were so much more stylish than anyone I see here in Oak Park. Cute hats, cute coats, the expensive strollers, and some obvious gym memberships.

For another, I noticed that the whole snow thing is way more inconvenient in the city that here in our non-suburb suburb. In OP, there is no parking overnight on the street allowed, so when the plows come through everything gets picked up. It's great. But in Chicago, of course, the streets are lined with parked cars day and night and when the plow comes, only the middle of the street gets cleared. I parallel parked today on what felt like the terrain of Mars -- frozen ridges and trenches. It wasn't that bad thanks to the old All Wheel Drive, which I don't get enough opportunities to use anyway. The other inconvenient thing is that it is not always easy to park close to the store you're visiting in the city. When we stopped at a toy store on the way home so Nutmeg could pick out a charity gift and I could secretly buy her a couple stocking stuffers, I had to haul the baby on my hip for a couple blocks from the nearest spot. Next time I venture into this neighboring metropolis, I shall bring the sling.

But it was outside Trader Joe's (yay!) that I spotted the most elusive urban dweller: The freegan. I had just spent over $200 on food and wine when I look out my car window and see a guy standing by the Dumpster, with some of the same stuff I just bought arrayed on the ground. He gave me the funniest shrug when I looked at him, so I rolled down my window and asked, "Freegan?"
Yep. "There's the most amazing stuff in here!" he told me.
I had actually read online that this particular TJs had a great Dumpster.
"All that stuff come out of the Dumpster?" I asked. There was a wedge of brie identical to the one in my trunk. Some of those little red and yellow peppers in a plastic shell, and a loaf of whole wheat.
But the freegan held up a huge, bulging backpack, and said, "All this came out of the Dumpster... Want some bread?"
I chuckled, and he said, "You probably don't want to feed your kids out of the garbage."
Do I? I guess not, come to think of it. I think I'll write about this encounter for Wise Bread.

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