Garbage Picker

Garbage Can

I remember the first time that I ate out of a garbage can. 😯 It was in the late 1940s, and Kellogg’s was trying a new marketing scheme.

Variety-Pack

Their cereals came in small and large boxes, but they began offering them in tiny, serving-size boxes. The equivalent of a large box would get you 10 or 12 of these, all wrapped together. The fronts had an H-shaped perforation. You peeled back the two cardboard wings, and did the same with the waxed-paper liner inside. You poured milk right into the box, and ate the cereal right from it.

This was one of the first “labor-saving devices.” Working mothers didn’t have bowls to wash. The extra labor and packaging material made them more expensive, so they didn’t do well in my cheap, dirt-poor little town.

Kellogg’s produced them in every flavor that they made. They also made a ‘Variety Pack”, with some of each. The tiny, independent grocery carried them for a while. It sat beside a laneway to another street. There was a garbage pail right beside – not a dumpster – nobody could afford to throw that much away. Somehow, one of the sampler packs came apart. Unable to sell it, the grocer just gathered the pieces up, and dropped it into the garbage pail beside his building.

Finally dry from his immersion in the Niagara River, yours truly was busy skulking and gallivanting around town. I approached the store by the alley, from the next street. I stopped to look in the garbage pail, and couldn’t believe it. Someone was throwing perfectly good food away. There were little boxes of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Vim, Rice Krispies, All Bran, Shredded Wheat, Bran Flakes – several types that I’d like to try, but couldn’t afford to purchase a whole big (or small) box, in case I didn’t like them.

They were all “Good-For-You” cereals…. and all that Bran! You wouldn’t be just regular – more like steady. I don’t remember any Sugar Corn Pops, or Sugar Smacks, or Sugar Anything. Sugar hadn’t been invented yet – or perhaps it wasn’t off wartime rationing. That’s why old people like me are sour and bitter. They had nothing sugary to sweeten them up.

The pail was relatively new and clean. The bulk package cardboard was pristine. The small inner packs touched only it. I dug out most of the tiny boxes – as many as my little arms could carry, and quickly headed for home with them. I told my Mother that ‘someone was throwing them away,’ without mentioning the garbage can, and had a bowel-cleansing assortment of breakfasts for almost two weeks.

Even today, there are individuals and groups – and not just homeless people – who regularly comb supermarket dumpsters for food deemed unsalable – packaged meats, cheeses, bread products, even fruit and vegetables, past their ‘Best Before’ dates. They eat it themselves, or donate it to food banks, to be used today. It saves money, and reduces the amount going to landfill sites.

The son works a midnight shift. He leaves work at 7:30 AM, and reaches the nearby supermarket just as it opens at 8:00, to purchase a discount copy of the Toronto Sun newspaper. He has learned to look at the other discount racks. Stock that will be thrown out tomorrow, is on sale today, for 20%, 30% – 50% off. He often comes home with half-price ground beef, steaks, roasts, bread, and buns. What doesn’t become his 9:00 AM ‘midnight snacks’, or goes into his little apartment-sized freezer, often makes its way into the household larder.

Reduce Reuse Recycle! Waste not – Want not. Do you do anything like this, to aid your economy, and the Ecology?

Complete And Correct

Calipers

Used properly, the English language is one of nuance and precision.  Used as many of the great unwashed do….it’s a wonder that even the pizza order is correct.

I have quoted Mark Twain’s admonition that “There’s a mighty difference between lightning, and a lightning bug.”

I recently stumbled across a blog post about euphemisms;

Euphemisms are generally used to change something icky into something more palatable. As George Carlin said, “Sometime in my life—no one asked me about this—toilet paper became bathroom tissue. The dump became the landfill. And partly cloudy became partly sunny.”

I heard Carlin’s debut album, shortly after it came out.  It was funny.  His later work – not so much.  It’s difficult to be funny for 40 years.  He began to make fun of the English language.  I didn’t find it terribly funny, because it was neither complete nor correct.

None of the above are euphemisms.  Early toilet paper was paper….like pages from a Sears catalog.  It beat using a corn cob. Soon, it was transformed into soft, absorbent tissue, used all through the bathroom, for applying skin cream, removing makeup, blotting lipstick, (a single square is faster and cheaper than an entire Kleenex) blowing your nose, or as emergency feminine hygiene material.  It is no longer paper, used only on the toilet.

We used to just dump and abandon garbage – hence, DUMP.  Nowadays, waste is shredded, some is incinerated, compost starter and soil is added and mixed, and the lot is bulldozed and landscaped into a re-usable landfill.

Media weather language is precise.  There are seven words to describe skies – from overcast, to cloudy, to partly sunny, to scattered (clouds), to partly cloudy, to sunny, to clear.  Partly sunny is 10% open sky.  Partly cloudy is 10% cloud.  They are not even vaguely the same.  One did not turn into the other, no matter what George falsely claims.

George lost me as a customer when he claimed that there were 3 words – flammable, inflammable, and non-flammable.  “Why 3??  Either it flams, or it doesn’t flam.”  Just a minute George, flammable means that something will burn.  Inflammable means that it will immediately, vigorously burst into flame.  A block of wood is flammable.  An open pail of gasoline is inflammable, so, there are 4 words, flammable – non-flammable, inflammable – non-inflammable.  If you’re going to bitch about something, even for comedy, it really helps your credibility if you know what you’re talking about.

I was in a medical center the other day, where an information station was set up under an umbrella. Emblazoned on the umbrella were the words SERVICE AMBASSADOR. I find nothing distasteful about the word INFORMATION, but I am entertained by the thought of a group meeting to find a supposedly better (and definitely more pompous) description of the services offered under that umbrella. SERVICE AMBASSADOR: Do you suppose the, ahem, ambassadors who staff that desk need congressional confirmation?

Like ‘toilet paper’, above, ‘Information desks’ have developed to provide far more services than mere information.  Every English-speaking country in the world has Ambassadors.  I can only hope that it was a vain attempt at humor, and not narrow-minded American provincialism that she felt any of them require U S Congressional confirmation.

Loblaw’s food chain came forward, and admitted to price-fixing on bread.  A letter to a newspaper complained that their fraud conviction was ironic.  1 – By voluntarily admitting wrong-doing, they received immunity from prosecution – so, no conviction.  2 – The bread was exactly as advertised, just too expensive.  What they did, was price-fixing, not fraud.  3 – What is ironic, is that the guy who complained, hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about.

Come on people, Stop, Think, Understand!  English is a beautiful, accurate, expressive language.  Please learn to use it correctly.  That’s what I ask for.  What I’ll probably get….is that guy’s Hawaiian pizza.  😯