Dumpster Diving

No, I’m not becoming a tree-hugging hippie. But I need boxes to ship my books back to Singapore in (having already filled two suitcases with mostly outdoor gear, and going to fill two backpacks with clothes), and the only really big one I have seems too flimsy to withstand the trans-Pacific journey. So I went cruising around Hyde Park, partly to relieve depression, with the side excuse of looking for abandoned boxes. After a few seemingly good prospects came to nought, I took a turn around the quads, knowing that dumpsters weren’t usually to be found there, but figuring that it was probably the place on my way back home that had the least negligible chance of having boxes lying around. It turned out that my having to stay for convocation wasn’t that bad after all — they were throwing away loads of unopened boxes containing convocation booklets. An utter waste. Luckily an empty one was near the top of the dumpster, so I took it home first — couldn’t hold more than one while riding. Didn’t have my cargo net with me, but I could rest the box on the front rack while grasping one corner of it with my left hand to keep it in place. Then I went back for another, but all the others near the top of the dumpster were full and unopened. I dragged one out with some difficulty and removed about 20 booklets to make it easier to handle. Then I took the box with the rest of the booklets to the recycling bins at the other end of the quad, and fed the booklets three at a time through the slit of the paper bin. Voila, a fraction (?) of a tree saved, and an almost-new box to ship my books back in. They’re a bit smaller than I would like, but with the limited success I’ve had, I’m not inclined to cruise around Hyde Park looking for boxes again.

In other news, my Knog Frog lights arrived. One white, one red, $20 for the pair. The first thing I did was to destroy the white one. I was trying to remove the inner body from the silicone body, and ended up breaking the bulb away from the inner body while trying to put it back. Argh. I really like those lights. Simple and extremely functional. Rather like my CETMA rack.

A friend remarked that I’d become more mellow after coming to the US. All too true, I suspect because I loosen up when I do not have to actively fight oppression. It would never have crossed my mind to actively offer help to strangers in Sg; in fact I used to find the idea nauseating. But yesterday, walking back from the Point, I passed someone trying to push a shopping cart full of boxes but having to stop every five steps to right the topmost box which kept threatening to fall off the cart. His progress was painful. I offered to help him carry that topmost box to wherever he was going. Luckily for me it was only two more blocks, for it turned out to be quite heavy. Suffice to say I’ve never offered help of my own accord to this extent before. That’s how impoverished a human being I was. But so many strangers have helped me, or offered help to me, in Chicago that I find it quite natural now, and nothing to be uptight about.

The idea of being uptight about such things is ludicrous. But I did grow up in a ludicrous country. To which I now have to return to spend a few more insufferable years. Will I tighten up again, now that I’ve been loosened?

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