---Tech Trash--- | entry page| who we are | what we do | what we find | legal issues | experiences |

During the nine months that we've been out on the street, many different things have happened to us in our quest for the tech trash of corporate America. One of my most memorable experiences happened this April:

My friend and I had just had one of our most successful nights ever, bringing in a huge load of computer equipment. As we had far too much to carry, and wished to continue searching for even more, we stashed our finds in a quiet atr ium next to a large office building. After searching with somewhat less success than before, we returned to collect the finds we had made earlier in the evening. As we began to load what we had found onto the seat of a broken office chair, we were acco sted by a security guard who demanded to know what we were doing with so much equipment. I explained our purpose to him, handed him a business card, and we proceeded on our way. We hadn't travelled much further than 75 yards when a police car drew to a halt beside us, and two officers jumped out. Four more police cars arrived minutes later. My friend and I were frisked for weapons, and I dutifully handed over my Leatherman and multi-grip tools to him as he did so. The officer then questioned us abo ut the origin of the equipment. We were detained while they checked our alibi with the janitor who we had met earlier in the evening -- and by a stroke of luck, he had specifically authorized the removal of the equipment by us. We usually just take it a s it lies, without asking anyone present, which would have presented a serious problem had that been the case in this instance, as we would have had no way to prove that we had not stolen the goods from a business. After the officers had determined that we were not in fact industrial burglars, they too were amazed that businesses were throwing out the equipment that they saw before them. Before he left, the officer first to arrive, and a number of others as well shook our hands and congratulated us o n performing a public service to the City of San Francisco, pledging the support of the SFPD to our cause.

A more common, and less nervewracking experience that we have is the looks that people give us as we dig through the trash. Some look away , as if they've seen something they don't want to see. Others look at us with pity, thinking we're homeless. Without a doubt, the worst kind of people are those that don't just look -- they take action, by either chasing us off, or calling the police, as happened with the security guard above.

Trashing puts you on a whole new level in the world. You talk to and see people in the course of it that your closest contact with would otherwise be dropping a dime into their styrofoam cup. Peopl e believe that homeless people are dangerous, but this is a gross generalization. Homeless people can be just as interesting and valuable to communicate with as 'ordinary' people, especially if you need to know the most intimate details and schedules of a particular area.

Without a car, trashing gets to be a logistical nightmare. One night, just after I found a 15" Macintosh monitor (the same night I got stopped with my friend by police), I got on a Golden Gate Transit bus to go home. It took about 5 minutes of arguing with the driver for him to even allow me aboard with my load, even though it fit under the seat quite well, and the argument was repeated again at the other end as he refused to open the back doors of the bus to permit easy unl oading of the items. Fortunately, the majority of my trashing is now done with my friend who is the proud owner of the nerdmobile, so it makes transportation of items much easier!

contact. fib@leaf.lumiere.net
created. 11.2.97