NYU students are moving out of their dorms this week, and while all in the city will mourn their loss, we will always remember them from the piles and piles and PILES of trash they leave behind.
Seriously, how big are these fucking dorm rooms? I dropped by Founders Hall on 3rd Avenue and 12th Street to survey these majestic monuments to waste (ironically, the graduation of NYU students means the loss of our interns, but someone's gotta do the Charlie work) and what I found will shock you. I mean, maybe, if you're a newborn baby or have never been to middle America.
I arrived as sanitation workers were sweeping the
trash mostly perfectly salvageable, or at least recyclable household objects into their truck, but not before I got to peer through an open window into the life of an NYU student: Let's see, I saw one sock, several rugs, a laundry hamper, a whiteboard that read "To Do: Clean WHOLE bathroom," a desiccated Christmas tree and an unopened box of Twining's English Breakfast tea. I was tempted to take the tea back to the office, but sensed that it's precisely that laissez-faire attitude toward hygiene that earned me this assignment in the first place.
One worker, whose name is Jamie, saw me taking photos of the detritus ("The only time I get my picture taken is in prison," he quipped) and told me that he's been collecting the city's garbage for 10 years. Though he's worked even the most moneyed streets, he assured me that it's near the dorms of NYU where he's discovered the costliest stuff.
Just today, he said, he collected a brand new refrigerator, several microwaves, and innumerable clothes and shoes. What else? "You don't want to know," he said, his eyes darkening. I assured him I did. "Toys," he said. "Those kind of toys." Ooh. He's also seen his fair share of watches: "Nothin' nice nice," he said, "but over a hundred bucks."
"These kids don't care. Money's no object, and they throw everything out," he said. "Must be nice to have money like that, right?"
By way of illustration, another worker tore open a garbage bag, revealing a pile of NYU paraphernalia that appeared to have been freshly laundered. According to the university's bookstore website, a new NYU t-shirt starts at $17.95. Guess there's no point in donating it to Goodwill when everyone in NYC already has plenty of everything.
It's too late for this year's batch, but Dear Incoming Freshman: Here's some light summer reading to splice in between No Exit and Eugene Onegin (Charles Johnston translation). Remember, all the viral performance art in the world won't stop the earth from burning.