By Jamie Mast

When my RA (Residential Assistant) suggested we should go out and do something fun for the night, I was thinking of bowling, or at the very least, a run to Dairy Queen. It wasn’t either of those, but it wasn’t a disappointment of a night either. It was something a little bit better than that. Just a little way in town there is a Krispy Kreme shop and at the end of the day, they throw out all of the doughnuts they don’t sell in the dumpster outback. So, if someone happens to take one of those bags full of doughnuts you technically get about four dozen or more doughnuts for free, which is terrible for a normal human being but perfect for a few college kids with nothing better to do with their lives. Like seriously, think of all the things you could do with those doughnuts, and then let me know because, honestly, my imagination doesn’t stretch that far.

It was time to suit up and make a game plan. The store closed around ten. Employees would be cleaning up for the next hour or so, leaving us with an opening around eleven, eleven-thirty. Our tactical expert was my roommate. A worn veteran of the slightly frowned-upon activities, she knew the best places to hide and the quickest way out. Dressed in all black athletic gear and silver hoops that demanded attention, she was the boss of this operation. The second was our friend the criminal justice expert and a big police fangirl. So we’ll just call her Capt, you know, like the captain of police… ah, nevermind. Anyway, I swear she could recite every existing law in numerical order just to prove her point. So if we got in trouble she was our bail, but we all knew that wasn’t going to happen so we brought her along for funsies. Our RA had the tan minivan. A soccer mom’s dream with storage room to spare. Perfect for however many doughnuts we end up stuffing in the back. Our RA wore a patchwork of black clothing with bright yellow rain boots, covered in flowers. Yes, she was the mom of the group and she would be our getaway driver. Finally, there was little old me, chilling in black with highlights of color. Not completely hidden but not quite out there either. But I had the flashlight so I was in.

Fast forward, eleven forty-five. Four girls, one van, out in the parking lot watching the workers moseying about the Krispy Kreme shop. Where were the doughnuts? We sat in the minivan tapping our toes and drumming our fingers, waiting for the chance to pounce. Any second they would come out and toss the glorious treasure right into our hands. Yet, as each minute ticked by it became increasingly apparent to us that we probably won’t get our doughnuts.

Capt stared off across the empty parking lot and let out a long sigh. “You know, I bet we look like squatters.”

Our RA made the mistake of asking what a squatter was.

Now we are all reluctant scholars when it comes to squatters. Those who unlawfully make their homes in places that most of us wouldn’t think about. Some examples would be alleys, parks, and, you guessed it, dumpsters. According to our local criminal expert, they could hide in dumpsters while looking for things they need and jump out and attack people that might stumble upon them. So like all logical, smart people, we went back to campus.

But, we all know if that was true, we wouldn’t have a story.

Instead, our RA kicked on the van and we went dumpster diving. Checking any dumpster from Hobby Lobby to Pier 1, we searched for something to take home as a trophy. Our RA at the wheel, the Boss and I on scouting, and Capt: the watch out. We would pull up to the dumpster slowly, open the doors, and two would jump out. Flashlight in hand, we would quickly open the lid and look inside to see what we could find. Then as quickly as we raced out there we would run back into the van and take off once again. In the end, our efforts only managed to scrape up three trash bags, a sweatshirt covered in vomit, three slit lawn chairs, enough cardboard boxes to build a third world nation, and no squatters. Apparently, we chose the day after the garbage truck came. The clock was ticking and here we were empty-handed and annoyed. Before us stood one last dumpster. As we pulled alongside the dumpster, I handed my flashlight to Capt and pointed to the door.

“Have a go at it,” was all I said, tired from running back and forth. She shrugged and hopped out to give it a go. As I slumped back in my chair, I glanced at the buildings trying to figure out which one we were behind. That was the problem with stores, they put all their advertising at the front and have nothing in the back. I heard a soft grunt as Capt opened the dumpster lid and peered inside. Then the next thing we know, her scream pierced the night causing all three of us to jump up and look around. I quickly slid open the door as she dove back into the seat. One word filled our heads as our RA hit the gas pedal: squatter.

I sat down in my seat and spun to comfort Capt. “What was it? What did you find?”

She sat there all out of breath and half dazed. Staring at the ceiling her gasps for air soon turned into a soft chuckled then a loud laugh. The van slowed to a stop as we turned to stare at her. “A mannequin,” she said with a snort. “It was a mannequin, I thought for sure it was a person.” Without even hesitating, Boss swung open the car door and raced across the parking lot, Capt right behind her. Reaching up, I closed the front door and motioned our RA to follow them. Boss grabbed the lid and pulled it off, letting it clang loudly. Pulling herself up, she flipped on her phone and used the flashlight to look inside the dumpster and there he was. A six foot two inches manly mannequin.

Have you ever looked at someone and wondered, “Who in their right mind would do that?” I have; quite a bit actually. Sometimes it’s to others, sometimes to myself, but at this moment it was to my friends who practically dove into the dumpster to pull out a giant mannequin (who was missing an arm and a head) and shove it in the back of our minivan. We didn’t know what we were going to do with it. What do you do with a giant six foot, extremely buff mannequin? The only thing that we knew is that this mannequin had to come back with us. So, that’s what happened. Once we got back on campus one person carried the torso, one carried the legs, and a third carried the mannequin’s one and only arm. We proudly carried him straight through the dorm common room, through all the prying eyes, and onto the second floor.

This is where he pretty much stayed as a tall, gray, and very unlikely mascot for the overly excited girls on that floor, well, until he was stolen. However, that’s a whole other story in itself.