816 Mike Smash.

Today we jump to Ed & Mike, conversation already in progress. 

Those of you who’ve never worked retail might not know this, but there are lots of rules about trash.  The kinds of rules people like to use to get other people fired.  I’m not sure if it’s true for all professions, I expect there are a lot of trash rules for food service.  A lot of the retail trash rules are bound up with the publishing industry, ironically enough.  Magazines that are thrown out, for example, have their covers torn off and sent back to the company so they can recieve tax credits and whatnot.  It’s wildly wastefull.  We used to throw away hundereds of pounds of paper every month from magazines alone.  Now that printed media is dying off maybe they’ll take a moment to consider recycling that paper as some sort of cost cutting technique.  I don’t know, but it always struck me as bad.  For all I know it may take more resources to recycle paper than to make it new.  In any event, as much as I like print media, I think the digital revolution will at least cut back some of the waste. 

Trash rules are bound up in loss prevention (theft) rules too.  That goes for all kinds of trash.  I worked with a lady, using the term very loosely, that was fired for eating out of an open bag of Skittles that was on its way to the dumpster.  I was no fan of her, but when she told the story to my friend Joey she scored points for ending it with “I just wanted to taste the rainbow.”  XD 

The guy who set the whole thing in motion was sent from HQ specifically to find a way to fire her.  It may sound strange but it happened a lot.  The board of shadowy figures would get crossed purposes with someone and the next thing you know some dude was snooping around the store looking for any way to get them fired.  Actually, that should only sound strange if you’ve never worked for a corperation.  That sort of thing is more normal than weird by volume.

35 Comments

Part of why I got fired from my last job was for taking stripped books out of the trash. Okay, technically out of the recycling bin, but that’s more the region I was in than the actual trash item (Southwest Kansas, and the Midwest in general are harder to find recycling centers. Also, paper recycling doesn’t really do much saving of anything. Sustainable forestry methods save tons more, but don’t get the pretty post consumer content label that some people look for…)

I’ve seen dozens of people get fired for eating wasted candy. The process at the company I worked for was to get the wrapper and throw the candy away (especially chocolate) because it had to be sent to the warehouse first, then back to the company in question, and given a random time-frame this meant ants if you left the open container. Same went for any open grocery item, but not dented cans. Finding an empty container on the shelves was something else.

Something that still gets me, is that people will open a container and dump the contents into their bag (baggie, canteen, or whatever) and leave the package, but other people won’t buy the same item because the package is dented. Especially confounding when the package is a box with a canister of the item inside where not even the canister, let alone the final product, is marred in any way what so ever…

Don’t know about other industries, but at the C-store I ran we couldn’t throw any food away in our dumpster. Most of it was for fear that someone would take it out, eat it, get sick, and sue us for making them sick (cause expired junk food left in a dumpster and covered in trash is a perfectly healthy thing to eat).

Hrm…I work at Pizza Hut and the store I work at has little to no trash rules. The problem with the store I work at is the owners are control freaks with cost. Managers must have another manager verify ALL of their money drops in the safe. If anything is made wrong in ANY area then it is deemed waste and it MUST be documented. Otherwise, you are immediately casted as a suspect in theft of store product. If the register comes up short, then a manager is a suspect of committing monetary theft. The cooks and I are basically forced to skimp on the toppings, especially cheese, to try and meet their ridiculous expectations on weekly cost %. We run about 28-29% and they expect 26% MAX.

Now, most would go “Ah, are the cooks using too much of the toppings?” like the owners have done. If you go by the nightly inventory, that would look like the case but after factoring in the waste record sheet, we are ALMOST completely in line on pizza and wing related things. Which leaves theft of food as the only explanation.

Based on what I’ve read in the manager’s office(there is NO door blocking access) in the mornings, there are costs being out of line that management has NOT mentioned. Syrup for the soda machine is a good example. Wings going missing is another unmentioned thing. Again, theft is the only explanation due to recording waste. Now, someone might say “but what if they record what they stole as waste to cover their tracks?”. That’s a sharp question with a good answer. Management must see it first hand for it to be recorded.

So yes, there are some stupid rules and regulations out there but that’s because situations like the one I spoke about above have happened. Those rules and regulations are probably misguided attempts at preventing “future incidents”. The worst part though? Some people are at everyone’s throat, quick to blame them while acting completely innocent. I know who’s stealing and what they’re stealing. I just can’t prove it. If I could, my job as a pizza cook would finally return to being fun again.

I have found for loss prevention in any retail, you don’t have to prove your suspicions to bring them up to your manager. (If your manager is a suspect, go higher.) Because if you’re lying, its a quick case, but if it turns out you are correct, then corporate will find any easy way to get rid of them.

the other solution is every time you notice something missing, make a mental note of the time, what went missing, and, if you know, who had been in the area since you were last there. Then write it down and make a log. once you get 2 to 3 pages (at least) of events, whether connected or not, it should be enough to grab someone’s attention.

@Shinami–

You may have uncovered the actual culprit in your cost fiasco. It sounds like your management is stealing the soda syrup and selling it on the black market. This scam is as old as soda; my Mom was fired for ‘stealing from a register’ when she worked as a cashier back in the 1940s; later it was proven that the real thief was the Ass Manager who fired her. His big crime was selling gallon bottles of Coca-Cola syrup to WWII black marketeers, and scrimping and saving (and firing innocent checkers) to hide his indiscretions.

–Perfesser

When I worked at an arcade, we occasionally junked machines. My manager’s rule was: “If it was going to get thrown out you can take it.” So sometimes when I junked machines I would take the motherboard and marquee (the sign for the game) and sell them. Other times there were useful things inside the cabinet, like old manuals and such. Those also got taken or scrapped.

The cabinet would then get taken to the dumpster, where it would sit overnight until the maintenance crew came on duty. They would demolish the cabinet so it could fit into the dumpster.

I had one customer ask me if they could take the cabinet. I said that I had to put it outside, where it would stay until the trash was picked up. They got the hint – it was gone by morning. The manager asked me, and I said I had put it outside like I was told. He shrugged and let it go.

I can’t believe they would just trash those things. There’s always someone willing to buy it for some reason or other. If they had put a sign on it shortly before disposal saying “Buy this machine! Highest bidder by xxx date gets it!”… probably would made a chunk of change. Or put it in some local for sale paper… Management is really strange and stupid sometimes.

You know those cardboard stands they have in stores for DVDs? I always loved playing Bruce Lee on those. Especially the Twilight ones. Kick those wankers right in the nose.

When my gf worked for 7-11, she felt bad that we rarely had money for food and stuff, and that things went to waste every night in her store, so when she tossed things, she didn’t open *everything*, and threw it all in a bag to be set next to her dumpster… then she called me (we lived a block away) to ninja it away.

The best part? Her store got a bonus for having better-than-par waste tonnage.

This was in Hawaii, where they threw out bento boxes and manapuas (rarely) and musubis… it was donut and hybrid-chinese-food heaven~ Once, I went downtown with a bag of donuts recovered this way and fed a couple hobos I saw when I walked to the store.

People starve while others whine about taxes… if we kept what we threw away, none here would need to suffer, it feels like. I understand capitalism, and I accept it in large part… but my humanitarian side doesn’t do well with it.

Food waste is a massive issue. We aren’t short food – we make too much of it and waste it. And there’s laws that force it to be wasted (at least in Ontario, regarding grocery stores, possibly retirement homes too). There isn’t any political willpower because the ones benefiting would be the poor. The only political willpower would come from “green” type people who thing this kind of waste is absurd.

Reading this panel caused a flash-back to several former managers I worked for… they weren’t cool, they always did things by the rule book, but then every once in a while, they had something about them that came out and it was a little crazy. Being REALLY excited to smash things is right up there. (Hey, I love to smash stuff, too, but I don’t go all Bruce Banner on it)

Like finding out that one manager was a preacher for a church in his home, or finding out that another was in an open marriage. Or the one that just didn’t show up for three days and then her mom called the store looking for her, too. Turns out she just quit without telling anyone, but we thought she might be dead.

My saddest story of retail waste came from when I worked at Starbucks. My location had The Training Room in the back of our store, and there was a huge wall-sized canvas with pre-printed art on it hung up in the room. They decided to renovate and throw out the old decor. I’m a painter and I asked if I could have the canvas. The answer was no, and since they closed the store for renovation, there was never a chance to sneak to the dumpster and grab it or anything like that. It would have needed breaking down to fit in the dumpster anyway.

I never understand why management says “No, you can’t have the stuff we’re going to throw out and have to pay to get it hauled away.”… especially if there’s no security concerns.

I certainly hear you on the magazines. We do the same at the library where I’ve been working for a good number of years. We rip off the cover, and toss the rest. PILES AND PILES of magazines in the dumpster; and I was the guy dumping them in for the longest time (then again, I’m the guy moving a lot of things, since the majority of the staff is old ladies. It’s hilarious to hear “aren’t you going to put on a coat?!” every time I step outside for a few seconds).

The same goes for the books we toss. I mean, many times we only toss books that are trashy anyway, but when they’re weeding and getting rid of the older stuff; it’s just ridiculous how many bascially good looking books just get dumped. I was jumping boxes of ’em on day and this lady was just friggin’ APPALLED by what I was doing. She kept asking if there was any thing else I could do with them, and I kept telling her that I’m not the one to talk to. Go inside. Talk to the director. But hell, what do I know? I’ve been telling people to talk to the ones that know things for YEARS and they still go about thier business, randomly walking around and looking for things on thier own.

At the very least we have been doing a lot of recycling lately. Things have changed quite a bit from a few years ago. Still…we need some other system in the works to take care of these piles of magazines and books.

“People starve while others whine about taxes… if we kept what we threw away, none here would need to suffer, it feels like. I understand capitalism, and I accept it in large part… but my humanitarian side doesn’t do well with it.”
What’s bothering you is corporatism, not capitalism. Corporatism is everything for the shareholders and upper management. Capitalism at it’s best expression is a garage sale.

I was referring specifically to American Capitalism, with all it’s nuances and subtleties, not to the concept. I get the “For the almighty dollar!” mindset, and in some cases it IS a good thing (R&D can be driven by it, for example), but automated industry and everyone living how they wish (Hiya Star Trek!) is much more a utopia to me than anything else.

I recovered a huge Jeans display shelf jc penny threw out back about 15 years ago for my mother who operated a store in the same strip mall and was able to use it in the front for food or whatever, on the destruction side ive horribly maimed microwaves and wine fridges before. and on the salvage side i have managed to procure many a nice item here and there that would have other wise been junked, ive gottne like 5 mp3 players that way, the people who take the returns rarely check to see if the item is in fact defective or non fuctional

I’m pretty sure manufactures have started printing “Do not return to store before you call this number” because a number of returns are items that are perfectly functional, but either the documentation sucks or it was misunderstood.

Well, now we know why he’s so passive.

He smashes things in his spare time and has no energy left for work place conflict.

I’m old enough to remember when newspaper drives were one of the main forms of recycling. It pretty much died when it got out that recycling 1 ton of newspaper made 10 tons of toxic waste. Magazines with glossy paper were never recyclable. There is just nothing you can do with that kind of paper.

On the topic of corporate waste rules, most of that is due to lawyer abuse. A company that even sees another company lose millions in a ridiculous lawsuit tends to become paranoid. And they have reason to be. One mistake that leads to a lawsuit can lead to can drive a company out of business and cost all of their employees their jobs.

On theft within a job. If the owners are paranoid about theft and dishonesty it usually means one of two things. First, it can mean that someone robbed them blind in the past and now they feel like they can’t trust anyone. Second, it can also mean that they, themselves are dishonest and expect everyone to act like they would. If you strongly suspect the later, run, don’t walk, to find yourself a new job!

No, recycling newspaper doesn’t produce that much waste, not anymore at least. Probably a mostly bogus factoid made up by the paper mills that saw too much of their revenue decline. It’s extremely common nowadays: Make a study, use factors that work in your favor, ignore the ones that don’t, so that the study says what you want… Making virgin pulp causes a lot of pollution too, a fact they certainly ignored in this “study”.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_recycling

@Mark,:

I’ve worked at my store for almost 5 years and the ONLY raise I’ve ever gotten was 10 cents. Sure minimum wage has gone up twice in the last 5 years here in Texas but the last time it went up was about 2 years ago. Oddly enough, it’s been almost 2 years since my last evaluation which I KNOW is BS. They are required to evaluate a person every so often and yet, I never hear a thing about it. So, that “dishonest” part may have validation. Only problem is…there are no jobs where I live or else I would have quit this job ages ago.

@Crave–

I have a couple of relevant memories of trashing unwanted material at my past jobs. At Radio Shack, we had a roof leak during a blizzard, and soak the boxes of our entire stock of Mattel Intellivisions. Our manager was one of the good guys. He sent the destroyed boxes to the insurance company, who paid a large portion of the inventory price (yeas, Radio Shack stores had to ‘buy’ their inventory from the warehouses). The manager then turned around and sold the ‘damaged’ stock (which had a waterproof inner shrink-wrap) to the employees — and he bought the first one. Intellivisions for everyone!

When I worked as civilian Security Officer at a Navy research base, we had a rule that anything intended for discard had to go onto a Navy truck and be hauled to the dump. This included lots of nifty techie toys that had ended their days in the dumpsters. The guards quickly learned that the truck would be parked outside the gate the night before the Dump Run, giving scrappers, scroungers, scrufflers and pickers (to say nothing of Boris and Natasha) the opportunity to give America’s Defense leftovers the once over.

–Perfesser

When I worked retail (back in the Pleistocene Era, otherwise known as my early 20s), a friend of mine was framed for jewelry theft by the Powers That Be so she could be fired, though, oddly enough, charges were never brought against her. Why? Because rumors flew that she was dating one of our departmental managers. Which did happen, but not until after she was fired. That manager left the company very soon afterwards. As this was the mid-80s, racism may have also figured into it (even if is was mid-80s Los Angeles), since the manager was black and my friend was Latina.

Nowadays I work for JPL (yay NASA!). You can bet we have very specific rules about trashing our stuff.

This reminded me of the saddest day of my life when working at a grocery store…we had to throw out over 100 pies made that day…saved a few…but I cried a little…

When I worked at a small convenience store if we had any Cadbury stuff that was almost out of date we weren’t allowed to reduce it, and we were always over-stocked on their cakes and such, so we’d end up writing off masses of the stuff.

On the flip-side though my manager was pretty good (had no respect for rules) when it came to fruit and vegetables. The packs had sell by dates which almost never related to the actual shelf life, so whichever supervisor had to write them off at closing time could take whatever they wanted and then give their sales assistant the pick of what was left. I’m sure she would have got in a lot of trouble if certain people knew she was letting us do that.

At another store I worked at we had a policy of not testing returned electronics. Somebody brought back a DVD player eleven and a half months into it’s twelve month warranty and proceeded to buy the replacement model, complete with another twelve month warranty.

I was sent to throw the old one in the trash compacter.

I remember the trash rules for the Albertsons chain involved having all foodstuffs required to be thrown away in the dumpsters with big padlocks on the doors and lids. I was always told this was to keep people from looting the dumpster. So I asked, why we couldn’t donate some of the stuff that had just hit sell by dates? and was told and I quote, “Oh no. We can’t do that! What if something was a little off and someone got sick? We could be sued!”
I’m always thinking in the back of my mind now, if I ever have to live on the streets, I’m bringing a set of bolt-cutters with me. ^.^

I hate that stores do that with old shelving and such, one of my most beloved bookcases started life as a magazine rack. It had to be left behind during one of our many moves though.

More of the bullshit wrong with society.
I get it.
Well… I indirectly get it.
I don’t work public sector, so I don’t have to put up with this particular issue myself… but I get that blame-culture is perpetuating wastefulness.

No, recycling the waste paper costs more than making new – or just throwing it away. That wouldn’t be a cost-cutting measure, it would only increase costs – for the city, if not for the company.

Somehow the cost of recycling was dumped on the city, which is a strange thing – companies should have to pay for the eventual disposal of their product.
Recycling paper might cost more because just dropping the paper somewhere and forgetting about it is cheap, but if you want to actually properly deal with it (compost it, make sure you’re not just dumping this problem on your children) – recycling it is cheaper.

Oh, but on the subject of store shelving… I renovated a warehouse music store that went out of business. First thing we had to do was get rid of TONS of metal shelving. Literally, many tons of it. The boss made about $1200 just scrapping the steel. I kept a bunch of the metal-slot wall shelves. Dad has a bunch of them, I have them in the house and the garage. One of the best things I ever kept on a salvage job, though it took a lot of work and an overloaded pickup to save the damn things.

In my job most of the things gotta get sent back to the providers, some things that cannot such as yogurt gets stored in a basket until the manager comes to visit, he then breaks every product, slashes to yogurt/breaking toys/cutting ham/etc. Sometimes he would act nice and let us have the apples or chocolates UuU

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