(originally posted 7/6/2021)
I didn’t realize that dumpsters pretty much come in a narrow range of sizes. There are no giant dumpsters.
Which kills my story idea. D. O. A.
The premise required an enormous dumpster. A hundred feet high and a few football fields wide.
I know what you’re saying; “Another story set in a dumpster a hundred feet high and a few football fields wide? Boring!”
But there’s where you’re wrong. This one would have been different.
The story would be about a hard-working young girl who worked part-time for months to afford a new jacket and on the day that she finally saved up enough money and went to buy it her dad spied her walking out of the mall with it and, in a fit of jealous rage caused by his own insecurities and lack of financial success, stole it away from her and threw it into a dumpster.
A dumpster a hundred feet high and a few football fields wide.
The girl the stood at the top of the enormous dumpster and looked down into dark fetid waters within and made a solemn vow to retrieve her jacket.
Now obviously the first thing I could do is examine what made her father such a load, his upbringing or battles with mental health, but that would be too easy. If I was going to make a story about a dumpster a hundred feet high and a few football fields wide interesting I knew I was going to have to think outside the box that was a hundred feet high and a few football fields wide.
Not easy to do. If you’re thinking otherwise you’re clearly not picturing a large enough box.
The premise of the story would be that she ends up spending months working for the equipment she feels would be necessary to get her jacket back. Mostly because she misconstrues the expression ‘dumpster diving.’
She thinks she needs scuba gear. The reader would be shaking their fist at the sky and saying that youth is wasted on the dumb.
Scuba gear is not cheap. Something she would find out the hard way.
The wet suit, the mask, the flippers, the aluminum tank, the regulator… the list would go on and on and I would spend a completely unnecessarily large amount of time on each item. You the reader would be screaming for me to try and understand and articulate the father’s motivations or his daughter’s burning need to reacquire the jacket but no, I would just focus on the trivial. Laser focused baby. Because that’s what makes an interesting story… to me anyway.
A lot of times drama and trauma and other words that end in ma complicate an otherwise perfectly weird premise.
So months later we would find her in her full scuba gear at the top of the giant dumpster and she would dive in and anyone reading about it would be struggling to come up with some mental image of the disgusting sludge that would make up the contents of this particular dumpster. It would be showtime for the imagination. The smell of it and if the girl would have any reasonable chance, once swimming around in the muck, of finding her long-lost jacket. Was that a heron flying overhead?
And no her dad would not show up and help or rescue her.
Why do readers always jump at the chance to inject something inspiring or uplifting?
No, she would swim around for hours in the slime and filth and then finally give up. Because that’s what happens when you look for a jacket months after it’s been thrown into a dumpster that is a hundred feet high and a few football fields wide.
But there you are. There are no dumpsters that big. Just makes sense when you think about it, what truck could possibly pick it up and haul it away? And to where?
And yes, the dumpster is actually the grown woman’s subconscious.
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