July 13, 2010 · Comments (2)
I rode to “the bins” today. Goodwill has many locations in Portland. Whatever doesn’t get sold in their retail stores gets shipped off to its last chance in their “outlet stores.” Imagine a warehouse filled with waist-high plastic containers (thus the “bins” moniker) filled with stuff. The containers are on rollers and every ten-to-fifteen minutes a new bin gets wheeled out. Employees guard the bin’s contents until it is properly in place on the sales floor. Customers line up to secure their spot so as to be first to rummage through the heaps and hopefully score a bargain.
Not surprisingly, the things that hold little-to-no value in their first, second, or last run at life are merchandising products. You know this stuff; you go to a trade show and everyone is handing out a free pen, baseball cap or thermos with their logo on it. Maybe you’ve gotten some “merch” as a gift from your own company. Someone in the “make our employees feel good” department was given a small budget and instead of simply paying everyone a $5 to $10 dollar bonus (because that would appear to be cheap) they place an order and gift everyone on staff a “free” water bottle. And what luck, the water bottle has the company’s name on it so it can advertise for and represent the company wherever it goes.
Maybe that’s how it went at Platt when they decided to order water bottles that were not dishwasher safe, could only hold cold water, and shouldn’t be used in the heat—in other words, completely useless, already trash and a burden to the recipient.
The majority of the objects in the bins is company-made consumer-donated junk. Dig through a pile and you’ll see old VHS movies, cassette tapes, lonely plastic toys, unheard vinyl records, forgotten books, old clothes and the faces of a thousand undervalued employees.
It made me think about how we’re all gonna die one day.
Look around at all everything you own. Is it killing you or keeping you alive?