“What did that [overhead announcement] mean? It sounded cool!” “It meant [basically] in 30 minutes, all hands on deck[1,2].” Coming up on 5 years ago, I was just bumming around in life, and ended up working at a thrift store for the hell of it. While looking for new junk is my primary reason for going, I also like going to remind myself of the times I hopped into gnarly trailers full of donations to salvage rarities.
That was one of my more physically demanding jobs.
I was out of shape, getting inebriated as much as I could, living without ambition. Jumping in and out of trailers to salvage sellable donations, and trashing the rest, was tough enough. Needing to clear them out solo in a timely enough manner without being grilled for taking too long – at $9.19 per hour – really helps me appreciate what I’ve got now. I’m in better shape, I only alter my mind with coffee and learning new junk, and my ambitions inspire me to wake up at 3AM to write.
All that’s easier when I remember the time I didn’t steal this TurboGrafx-16.
Knee-deep in your broken donations, within my first month of sobrieties, I found this pristine gem. I thought of ways to stow it away. If I hid it in the bushes behind the dumpster, or under the wheels, I could get it later. Between the security cameras, no real place to hide it effectively, and I suppose my morality still being in check, I did the right thing. I brought it in so someone could buy it in a heartbeat. I’ve never had another opportunity to buy or play one. I’m OK with that.
I didn’t compromise my humanity for temporary pleasure.
Because say I did steal that videogame console. How much enjoyment would I have gotten out of owning or playing it? There’d always be a lingering immorality to the object. It would be like drinking, and drinking, and drinking this evening, waking up tomorrow or sometime next week, and pretending nothing had happened, while continuing with a ruse of sobriety. In a more symbolic sense, it was letting go of something that could give me pleasure that was not mine to enjoy.
“The House of the Rising Sun” always transports me back.
Specifically, to this one overcast day. I was bringing in carts of donations from the trailer to be appraised by the fellow minimum wage laborers. A third were stuck without luck, a third like me in the depths of their personal hells attempting to find salvation one paycheck at a time, and the last third had no other options. The loading dock had a speaker playing this song. Two coworkers were taking bags of clothes off the carts while singing this song in quiet desperation.
They were resigned to their fates of being invisible hard labor in modern America.
I took the first opportunity I could find to escape that old junk.
Hearing overhead announcements requesting a “M.O.D.” always reminds me.
|Sources: My personal experiences.
Quotes: [1,2] A conversation with coworkers in 2018.
Inspirations: The life they don’t teach you about in school.