When the Sun goes down, people all over the City of Newark take to the streets in search of Treasures which others have unwittingly thrown out. It's a trend that plays out in Communities across the State and Beyond. The reasons for doing this are as varied as the Treasures found within the Dumpsters of Apartment Complexes and Commercial Properties.
From the outside looking in it's hard to imagine that these Treasure Hunters are anything more than Drug Addicts trying to secure their next Hit of (insert drug) or Homeless Bums looking to afford another Bottle of Booze. Although there are some who are in it for selfish reasons such as getting high, others do it to survive.
I caught up with a Gentleman on Newark's South Side who regularly hits up the Newpark Village Apartment Dumpsters. For security reasons and because Dumpster Diving is sort of a Gray Area in California this Individual will remain Unidentified, except for an Alias.
Pete, is a Caucasian Male in his late Forties who has been a Resident of Newark for 15 Years. In a past life he Maintained Jobs in the Engineering Field and was a regular working stiff that is until the downfall of our Economy and everyone stopped hiring. It's a Story all too familiar for Millions of other people across the United States.
Surprisingly, Pete was quite friendly and answered all my Questions during our short 15 Minute Conversation as he Rummaged through Dumpsters at Newpark Village. Something which none of the other Divers I encountered wanted any part of that Night.
"You know, News Publications are putting out Monthly reports about the State of the Bay Area Work Force. They say it's getting better, but what they neglect to tell you is that the numbers are getting better because people have ran out of their Unemployment Benefits so they are no longer counted." He said.
Pete continued "As a Home Owner myself, and a Family man it falls on me to support my Family and if that means digging through Garbage so that I may keep my home and feed my family then so be it."
Although Pete did admit to me that he doesn't go Digging through his Neighbors Trash or Residential Home Trash Cans in General out of Respect for his Neighbors and others.
I asked Pete whether he's ever been hassled by NPD and he Replied with "No... Not yet anyway.".
According to Pete he's found everything from Armani Suits, Computers, and Expensive Golf Clubs to Stereos and Surfboards.
"Some Electronic Goods just need a bit of work done, go to Frys purchase some Chips, Wire or other Materials, fix it and sell it for hundreds of dollars over the Internet." He said.
Pete Adds "It's Amazing the kind of Valuables people throw out just because it's got a Scratch on it or a Kink in the Wire. It's Wasteful"
His Biggest Treasure he's found so far was a Business Class Server with a Xeon Processor and told me he sold it for over $3,000.
I asked Pete about his Family since it became obvious that he was doing this for them. He told me how he's got two Children, one of which is going to the high School next Year and how he and his Wife really want to move back East where they Originally came from.
They Ultimately decided to Stay here in Newark until the Kids Graduate from School.
"When I was a kid my Father was in the Military and so we moved from town to town and I remember the feeling of having to leave all my friends behind. I don't want my Children to have to feel that pain or know what it's like, so we stay. " he said.
I asked him Point Blank if his Family was aware that he Dumpster Dives and he replied with a quick "No, no they don't". I pushed it a little further and asked him what his Wife thinks he's doing.
"My Wife thinks we're sitting on a Nest Egg, I handle all the Finances in the household and she makes sure the kids have what they need. Truth be told, our Special Bank Account for Emergencies ran out months ago."
I asked him if he had considered reaching out for Help and he Replied "I have too much Pride to ask for Help, i guess it's a Trait from my Father who hated Quitters and raised me to never give up or settle"
When I asked Pete about what he'd rather be doing he Replied with " Honestly? I'd rather be Working, I mean I have found many items that were highly lucrative for me but I've always been a Team Player and Love to be on the Floor solving Problems. "
He continued "Look, I don't want to be Rummaging through Garbage Dumpsters, but I also don't want to be out on the Street or stuck living in one of those Sleazy Motels like EZ 8. I have a Masters Degree and my only Choices are Handouts or working in the Burger and Fries Field for Minimum Wage. ".
"It's because of my 'Dumpster Diving', as you call it that allows my Family to keep living in our Home and continue having a normal life. I don't regret it for a second" he added.
I asked Pete if he had any words for people who might be in a Similar Situation and he Replied "Yes."
"When all you keep hitting are Dead Ends, don't give up. If you can, come out and join the rest of us you just might find something that will put food on your table."
On this Night Pete didn't find anything particularly Useful except for a pair of Dress Shoes which were in Pretty Good Condition. Once Pete was done throwing the Trash back into the Dumpster and Cleaning up, he headed over to his Slick Black Porsche to put the Shoes away.
As our Interview came to a Close he came back with a Patch Mug which apparently had Coffee in it.
Pete Shook my Hand and thanked me for our Talk, I asked about the Patch Mug and he told me he's a Newark Patch Reader and asked me if I was THAT James!? I replied with "Of Course!" he smiled a little then told me he enjoys some of my Posts and added how I wasn't what he expected me to be. Like wise, Sir.
After thanking him for his Compliment toward me he got into his Beautiful Porsche and took off to Destinations Unknown.