The McKirdy Bros Professionally Eating Ribs
Times are tough, for many people this isn’t the first time they’ve struggled to make ends meet. I’d like to humbly share a time in my life my frugality took a dark but interesting turn. It was 2008 and I was a student at the University of Oregon. My major was international studies and so, in a way I was honing my skills for a life of financial hardship. I was “in between jobs” as they say, and while I had saved enough money to still afford rent, my savings were diminishing fast. Food was expensive. I had contributed to society, paid my taxes for long enough for me to feel less guilty about what I was scheming. I looked to the homeless for inspiration and I found none. “They are doing it all wrong” I said to myself.
I had long been a fan of free food so I started brainstorming of all the past places food was a plenty. Buffets. Breakfast buffets. Continental breakfasts. The Holiday Inn Express was closest to my house, so that’s where I first walked in as confidently as possible, to a hotel I’ve never been in before. Oatmeal. Apples. Oranges. Muffins. It was a beautiful display of food not meant for me, which made it even more exciting. I had my backpack on me because my Spanish class was in a half an hour. I ate what I could, and opened my bag to shove a bundle of bananas in. I took an extra muffin for my friend because he was broke like me, and as it turns out I’m very generous with other people’s food. This went on for a while. So long that I started to rank the hotels. Phoenix Inn had apple juice and hot chocolate so I gave it a B+. But breakfast was only one meal out of the suggested 3 a day. I had started noticing official University of Oregon food golf carts zipping around campus. I was lucky enough to have experienced this before at catered public events and so I knew they had the goods. One day in between classes I saw a green cart zip right in front of me and if it were possible I would have jumped right on the back and followed it to wherever it was going, but I had to be more inconspicuous. So, I ran. Calmly. Like I was late for a class across campus. Finally the cart stopped in front of the law building. Taking from future lawyers was alright by me. I wasn’t stealing. I was taking something being offered just not to me. Oh was it delicious. The pasta was seasoned and covered in feta cheese and oil. I was in heaven. The breakfasts and occasional catered meal kept me for only so long. I did some grocery shopping rather often to buy my bulk items of hummus, rice, beans and oats. Cheap nutritious foods. I was at Whole Foods when I noticed a bread man checking the dates of each loaf and then collecting the ones that were about to expire. I striked up a conversation and he told me that he could give me some just not in the store. He told me to meet him out back. A couple of minutes later he was noticeably more casual with me. He didn’t care about the bread. So I took all that I could. Six loaves of organic whole wheat bread. It only lasted me a few days.
Turns out he gave the rest to the Eugene food pantry, but they always had plenty of bread from other donations besides his company. I looked into the pantry and I qualified. I rode my bike to the pantry, and again only had my backpack. They told me to go outside and they would bring me my food allowance. They rolled out a two level push cart full of canned foods, cold milk and other dairy products including a very cheap pint of chocolate ice cream. I could only carry about a quarter of what I was alloted. I wouldn’t have eaten most of the other stuff any way because it was full of MSG, salt and I knew it would taste awful.
Eventually I was able to get a job and save up some money so I didn’t have to go to all the trouble, but I had a good run. Without all the ways I found to get free food I am sure I would have started charging groceries on a credit card. I hope I don’t have to do it again, but it is nice to know that sometimes beggars can be choosers if you’re smart enough. I am very thankful for each and every free bite to this day.
Andrew Scoring Free Organic Bread