Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dumpster Diving: Varsity Team

My roommate and I were having a discussion the other night about the Single Woman’s Dilemma, which goes something like this: Should I buy nice things now, because I have no current marriage prospects and therefore no hopes of getting Nice Things via a wedding shower OR do I buy cheap things and hold out hope that I’ll be able to replace them soon when I get a man and a wedding shower?

It’s mercenary, I know, but at least I’m not the only one who’s thought that way.

For the record, if I ever get married, the only thing I want is a Kitchen Aid mixer, in eggplant. Oh, and love everlasting. Thank you.

I have no problem with cheap, if it’s good quality, which usually means that I buy stuff secondhand, and that’s fine. I have been moving a lot recently, which means that things come into my life and quickly go—by my count I’ve bought several irons, various dishes, linens, glasses, hangers, etc. Lately I’ve become more conscious of trying to stay out of the consumer culture, which means I try not to throw stuff away. This also means that recently I’ve been buying the Nice Things (like a new bed!) knowing that I’m going to hang onto it for a loooong time.

Sometimes though, you have to go cheap, like my $30 Target bookcase which still reeks of woodglue and formadahyde a week after I’ve unpacked it. I was feeling guilty as I went to throw the box away—it’s cardboard! It should be recycled!—because we have no recycling facilities onsite, but imagine my horror when I looked into the Dumpster and saw an entire set of frying pans, barely scratched, that someone had thrown away.

The horror. The horror.

Now, we have pans. We have enough frying pans that—should we choose, we could fry an entire carton of eggs, with each egg in its own special pan. We do not, however, have saucepans. But as my eyes traveled over the pile of white garbage bags and the various other items, I saw a gleaming pile of saucepans just out of reach. I could not believe it. I went back into the house and quickly made up a fishing pole, using the handle from our broom, a wire coathanger and one of my grosgrain ribbon belts, and proceeded to fish the saucepans out of the Dumpster. The first try bent the hook on the hanger straight, but with patience I managed to extract a stock pot, a medium-sized saucepan, a larger, flatter saucepan, a small saucepan, and (miracle of miracles) a vegetable steamer! Which is something I’ve been lusting for lately. Huzzah!

The reason why the hook was bent straight was made abundantly clear when I flipped over the small saucepan—these aren’t your cheap, Dollar Tree aluminum saucepans, oh no. They are heavy duty, Faberware Millenium stainless steel cookware, with the copper bottoms, heavy enough to commit murder with. They are wedding-registry worthy Nice Things. And they are all mine.

What’s a little dumpster diving and some heavy duty scrubbing?


Anonymous said...

I agree you find some interesting things in dumpsters. I love your creativity and talent in writing and i see you in acting also. Keep up the good work.

Diane Fields said...

i left this comment Nicole-Diane here.

Laura said...

I'm so proud of you for retrieving a perfectly usable set of saucepans. Shame on whoever threw them away. In Peace Corps culture there's a lot of hand me downs and re-using. Not a lot of Nice Things - although I just bought myself a new (cheap) tent which was probably more than I can afford and my bicycle which I spent money on last August and have actually been riding needs repair. You had me worried there with the Single Girl's Dilemma because I use empty jars for glasses and can't see myself getting married anytime in the future. Not the kind of "married" one recognizes with a registry anyway.