Friday, March 30, 2012

Throw Away People

When I was in my late teens, I worked at a grocery store deli. Behind the grocery store was a HUGE trash compactor which was probably 20ft long, 10 ft high and 10ft across. There was a 5ft high cement porch at the level of the door of that compactor, so it was easy just to drag the trash out the back door and push it in. The first night I started working there, the guy who trained me told me that before I pressed the button to compact the trash to make sure that there were no people in the compactor. He said that sometimes homeless people would be in there getting the food out. I was paranoid about crushing a person because I think that would be one of the worst ways to die. The grocery store was in a small town but in the poorer section. It was also next to the county jail, and one night a man escaped and ran behind the store with the police chasing him. After I had been working there for a couple of months, a stockboy pointed to an old man and woman and said that he had to yell at them to get out of the compactor. I recognized the couple as people who came in during the evenings asking if I could sell them something from the deli at a cheaper price. Usually, I was the only employee there at night and wasn’t sure, so I asked my manager and she said absolutely not. Her reasoning was that if we started selling food cheaper when we were closing, then many people would wait until the deli closed to come begging for cheaper food. Her solution, in fairness to everyone, was to throw the food away. Every day that I worked there I would throw away about 100lbs of food. I wasn’t allowed to take home any of the food either for free or discounted. Ironically, that store held food drives a few times a year.

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