Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Saturday, September 3, 2011

We All Must Do Our Part to Save the Sinking Ship

There I am at the helm of a compactor. One of my everyday duties at the two places I worked over the last five-and-a-half years was taking out the trash. It's honest work and someone must do it. Remember the saying about acting? "There are no small parts, only small actors."

Same with work. If my life was a movie there would be a scene, two people smartly dressed sipping morning cups in a nearby overpriced coffee boutique.

"See him," says one over the rim of his Frappe  a Beaucoup d'argent Cafe Mocha.

The other, bent over his MacBook Pro desperately seeking to finish a report for this morning's meeting with the Audit Committee, glances over. "Yeah, so?"

"Sad case," says the Frappe-boy with a grimace as the bitter under taste of expresso hits his tongue. "Used to be a Bank Officer, now he empties garbage."

Trash, my friend, trash, garbage usually contains discarded or wasted food product. And taking out the trash (or garbage) is a very important job. The main difference between Frappe-boy and myself is I may buy a good morning coffee at McDonalds and he fritters away his money on, well, that thing for the appearance of it.

Speaking of garbage, I have discovered something about restaurants and the discarding of their leavings. They are very sloppy about it. I know this because in both my recent positions we shared the compactor with nearby eateries. At first I though it was just this one that was inconsiderate in this matter. I would tote my bags of debris to the hopper and find it filled to overflowing. It is important for you to know that in a mall community each depositor of trash is supposed to compress it after dumping. You are also expected to breakdown any cardboard cartons to flats. I was always very conscientious about these rules, not so my culinary neighbors. Boxes and bottles were heaved with mutual disregard to space or consequence, thus unbroken cartons and broken glass. And spaced in-between were plastic hulks containing all the garbage of the day, often untied or punctured so sauces and other slops flowed about the mess.

At my first site where I emptied trash the compacter had a large open hopper, similar to a dumpster. This would sometimes be filled to above the compactor top with the smelly, smeary mix from the restaurant and I would have to attempt compacting this before I could even get my own in, all the while fearful some leaky unfastened bag of garbage would tumble upon my head.

At my second site the compactor was all enclosed. You open a door and shove your refuse in. Save for that, the restaurant we shared with was no different. The hopper upon opening would contain what had been stuffed within and left unsmushed and only the door prevented a falling rain of slop from hitting me, but the sill of the opening and often the very door would be smeared with old melted cheese, pasta sauces and I dread to think what else. On my last day of trash discarding I had to stand in a pool of such a mixture to reach the hopper. Spillage did not seem high on the list of the restaurant's concerns when it car to garbage disposal.

Despite the sins of the restaurants, you meet a lot of interesting and friendly people in the narrow confinds behind the store rows. I always thought of us as the back alley people, the members of a society most store patrons never see. I was very proud of my career amongst the back alley folk. I'd rather chat with the back alley guys and gals any day then spend my mornings with the Frappe crowd at Starbucks. The people who clean our spaces, haul away our junk, mow our lawns, sweep our streets and in general pick up after us are doing some of the most important jobs around. If you don't think so, then get rid of we back alley people and see how you like eating surrounded by un-bused tables or working at a desk littered with all your past debris. And you don't even want to imagine ever again using a Porte-Potty.

Which brings us at last, by a rather circuitous route, to my subject of the day. It really has nothing to do with trash disposal, that was just something I felt like getting off my chest. No, you need go back a couple paragraphs to the statement, "On my last day..." I was relieved from the ranks of the back alley people last week, my last day being as it were the 27th.

Why did this happen, you ask, did I spill too much trash in that alley? Not at all, not at all, it has more to do with my former employer corporation announcing their second quarter earnings on the 31st. Oops, did I say earnings? Slip of the tongue because you can't really think of a $27 million dollar loss as earning anything, except perhaps pity. Chucking overboard me and people of my low station is part of the grand design to save the sinking ship or the last grasp at a bailing bucket. But in such emergencies we must all do our part.

I was quite impressed then when I read this headline from "The Idaho Statesman" in Boise as reprinted in "Businessweek Online" September 2.

"CEO of Idaho [company] won't get a salary."

The article went on: "Sept. 01--The chairman and CEO of [an Idaho]-based Corporation is giving up his salary as the company struggles to regain its footing in the women's retail market.
On Tuesday, a day before the company announced lower quarterly earnings, the board of directors approved [the CEO's] request for no salary. [He] will still get employee benefits."
Well, way to sacrifice, sir, for the good of the group. Don't we wish all CEOs would take such measures when the companies they guide run into the shoals? 
And then I read the next sentence in the article.
"[The CEO] earned a $1 salary in fiscal 2009 and 2010."
Maybe it is a misprint. Perhaps the paper or the website accidentally dropped a few zeros behind that $1. If not, maybe the CEO should also give up those employee benefits like I did...oh wait, I didn't have any employee benefits.
But as men we must do what we must do. I am certain the dropping of my hourly wages and his $1 will save the company. Don'tcha think?



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