Buy Me

By: Cassandra Dee

“That’s right, so I have to scavenge. I walk around the city most days, looking for fruit that’s fallen on the floor.”

I was nonplussed. We were in Manhattan, which is a great place, but still, it’s the city. Where in the world did fruit trees exist? This was a grey town, filled with towering skyscrapers, people rushing by to get here and there, barely stopping to breathe. Where in the world did this guy find ripe fruit on the dirty concrete sidewalks?

But Harris had evidently answered this question before because he nodded proudly again.

“Sometimes I go to the dump,” he stated. “If I can’t find fruit on the floor, I figure the dump is just as good because it’s fruit that’s been discarded. Waste not, want not,” he said, wagging a finger at me.

And I almost choked then. So this guy was scavenging at the local landfill for food? On the one hand, I got his point. He wanted to be environmentally friendly, and certainly picking up discards from the scrapheap minimized your carbon footprint, you were consuming what had been thrown out by others. But that was the point. This was food that was other peoples’ rejects, fruit that was probably molded and half-eaten, nibbled on by rats, and this guy was telling me that this was his norm, that this was what he consumed on a daily basis.

So I smiled weakly then, trying not to look revolted. I love people who champion a cause, but sometimes, it’s just not for me. I support these folks, their fervor is impressive, but I can’t eat rotted food from landfills, it was too much. So I smiled weakly, unsure what to say, and Harris sensed my unease.

“Would you also be a fruitarian?” he asked sternly, eyes blazing at me. “Would you go with me to the dump to forage? You know, we’d be saving Mother Earth, making the most of her bounty.”

I swallowed again. How to answer this diplomatically? Should I lie? Should I let small white lies roll off my tongue to please the client? But I couldn’t, this was too weird, and the whole thing was just spinning out of hand. I had to say something and be diplomatic about it.

“Um, I think what you’re doing is amazing,” I murmured appeasingly. “I mean, eating only fruit must be really hard, do you get enough calories each day?” Probably not, judging from his wasted form, but I desperately wanted to avoid his question.

But Harris couldn’t be deterred, he merely fixed his eyes on me again, this time insistent.

“So what do you say?” he pressed. “Could you live the fruitarian lifestyle? The real deal, eating produce that’s already been dropped from the tree?”

I swallowed again. I wasn’t going to be able to dodge, I wasn’t going to be able to get away with a few vague “ahs” and “ums.” So slowly shaking my head, I let my true views out as gently as possible.

“Again, I really admire what you’re doing,” I murmured. “But no, I don’t think I could. It’s not that I don’t believe in what you’re doing,” I rushed, trying to be conciliatory, “but it’s just not me. I can’t eat from the dump, the stuff there must be way past its due date. And I think if we buy responsibly and support local businesses, we’re doing our part to further the movement.”

But Harris was immediately turned off, sniffing and looking away.

“That’s what you think,” he said accusingly. “But you’re just a cop-out. Real environmentalists go to extremes because it’s not extreme,” he added haughtily. “Besides that shit at the grocery store is all wax and dyes, you think you’re buying a Red Delicious? Honey, those apples are actually green on the tree, machines color them red.”

My client’s attitude was insufferable, but again, I wasn’t in a position to disagree.

“I’m sure you’re right,” I agreed soothingly. “I’ll never buy a Red Delicious again because it should actually be called Green Delicious.”

But despite my best efforts, Harris was done. He turned his narrow chin away, refusing to look at me anymore, like I hurt his eyes.

“Handler!” he called out to the air, raising his voice slightly. “Handler!”

And immediately the middle-aged woman in a cocktail dress appeared once more, nodding deferentially.

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