Saturday, March 27, 2010

Seeds, Jobs, and Garbage

First, I will share some updates with you, then I will share some thoughts I have about garbage.

I have planted a second round of the seeds I got from my friend Myles.  The first batch got baked when I went backpacking and forgot to ask my roommate to water them.  So, I started more a few days ago, and nothing yet, but once they start sprouting, I will share photos.

Now for a jobs update.  I am of course still working at Starbucks.  Promotion seems not TOO far off, but it still has yet to happen.  My manager tells me it is a matter of timing and not performance, which is good, but promotion and a raise would be better.  However!  I had an interview with an outdoor retailer yesterday, and I feel like it went really well.  It wouldn't pay much more than I am making at Starbucks, and initially I'll probably get less hours there than I am getting now, but I am intimately familiar with the outdoor industry, and I am excited to get back into it.  For a while I plan to try to keep both jobs, and push myself hard, hopefully getting about 30+ hours at each one.  Eventually though, if I am offered a full-time position with this new job, I will take it and probably cut back to between 20-30 hours at Starbucks, especially if the timing is still not quite right enough to promote me.  If I do get promoted at Starbucks, it will make my decision more difficult, because I definitely like the outdoor industry quite a bit, but I have no idea how quickly I might come upon opportunities for advancement with the outdoor retailer.  Obviously, I need to start thinking career-wise if I am going to save enough money to start my homestead.  And in that respect I want to keep my options open, which means that if Starbucks promotes me sooner than this new possible job shows any promise, I have to stick with them as my "first" job, and use the outdoor retailer as supplemental income.  But who knows what the future holds.

Now I would like to share an observation I made while working at Starbucks that got me thinking about how people in American society mentally and emotionally deal with "garbage."  One of the tasks that anyone who has worked anywhere has probably done is take out the trash.  (I would first and foremost like to point out that Starbucks produces WAY too much garbage.  So much of what we throw out at Starbucks is recyclable, or compostable, but everything goes out to the dumpster.  It is sad to me on a daily basis, though I have plans for the compostables someday, if I can get enough composting space at my house.)  In order for this to make sense, let me describe what a "trash run" is like where I work.  We keep a large-ish plastic garbage can in our backroom, and put the plastic bags full of trash into it throughout the day.  Once it piles up enough in the back room, someone does a trash run, and they wheel that garbage can outside to the dumpster.  For some reason our back door to the outside world is blocked, and so we wheel our garbage can through the lobby, and directly through where people line up to order.  This space is narrow, and usually crowded.

I have observed on my last few trash runs that people NEVER pay attention when I am coming through with the garbage bin.  I have to say excuse me to nearly every person that is standing where I need to go.  Many of them look in my direction, but pay no attention to what my presence with a garbage bin implies.  Many more of them don't even notice me.

Now, I know people might be preoccupied with thinking about what they want, but I have a theory about the real reason people do not move out of my way without me practically bumping into them with the garbage.  First of all, people are NOT this mindless to my presence when I am not hauling out the trash.  If they see me or anyone else trying to come through, they do a pretty good job of scooting aside and letting us through the line.  I think that most American's put on the blinders when it comes to trash, or people dealing with trash.  Any of my readers reading this are probably nodding their heads and saying, "well duh Kyle, this is no great insight."  And I agree, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that the "garbage man" is not well respected in our society.  And I know that when I'm doing a trash run, I'm the garbage man, hence the disrespect I have noticed when I'm performing that task.

But I think it goes deeper than just disrespect for a dirty job.  I think I might have figured out when garbage man is such a disrespected job, instead of one appreciated by the many who do not have to do what the few are doing.  I think, somewhere deep down inside of everyone in the place that is still connected to nature, and that communicates in someway with the earth and nature and the environment, most American's are ASHAMED of the garbage we produce.  I think most people know that they are doing grievous damage to the planet with the amount of waste they are producing.  And I think that the part of us that is connected to nature is such a deeply rooted part of us, that the sub-conscious dissonance this causes the average person can only be dealt with in one way, turning a completely blind eye to the problem.  I think that in order to deal with the sadness of their wasteful nature that people know about deep down inside, they just decide to pretend that the garbage doesn't exist.  That when trash gets thrown away, it goes "away."  Where is this mythical "away?"  Is anywhere on earth really "away?"  People don't want to think about that.  And so by turning a blind eye to the trash, they turn a blind eye to the people dealing with the trash, which means they turn a blind eye to me when I'm the "garbage man."  This obviously disturbs me on multiple levels, the least of which is the disrespect I feel oozing off of people as soon as they see me dealing with the trash.

Maybe I am reading too deeply into it.  Perhaps people are just really, really excited about their lattes or mochas.  But I don't think so.  I think they are deep down ashamed by the amount of waste their lattes and mochas produce.  And when I parade that waste right in front of them as they're standing in line, some part of them deep down inside can't handle it, and so they put on the blinders and just ignore me, ignore their waste, and ignore the bigger problems associated with everything I've been talking about.  What do you think?


  1. you are right, DENIAL is universal. Its not just paid lobbysists for the fossil fuel industries, the so-called Climate Change or Global Warming Denialists. We are all in DENIAL.


  2. dude, money troubles are the worst. i feel your pain about trying to find enough work- i'm in the same situation right now.

    i think you're bang on about the garbage issue. it's so much easier to just toss and forget than to pause and consider the implications. sometimes when i drive by the landfill i just want to go in with a shovel and pickaxe and look for cool stuff. there must be so much useful junk in there waiting to be restored or repurposed, but of course there are strict anti-scavenging laws in the interest of public safety... although in my opinion they are more in the interest of the consumer capitalist model. but i'm starting to sound like a 19 year old marxist here....

    anyway, great post. sorry it took me so long to read it. when are you gonna start blogging again?

  3. I'm actually in the middle of writing a new post. A lot has happened so far this month, and I have a lot to write about... the problem is I have hardly any time to do it. But look for a new post either tonight, or tomorrow morning.