So Last Season
The bright ones had to go. All the gaudy near-neon throws (both pillows and blankets, things meant to be tossed) — the hot pink and electric green, the blinding-bright yellows and oranges that “went together” because some moribund, cubicle-dwelling corporate flunky had decided they should — they had to go. With the innocent audacity of a three-year-old who believes things have reasons and it’s possible to know them all, I asked why.
They’re summer, was the manager’s reply. I asked why again, because it was July, and she still hadn’t answered my question. She worked with practiced efficiency, slicing the pillows apart to bleed out their bleached-white plastic floss stuffing in the bottom of the dumpster. A holocaust of late-20th century suburban supply in excess of demand. No one, it seemed, wanted the porches of their gated subdivisions to look like children’s playhouses or Caribbean all-inclusive singles resorts. These innocent, over-dyed fabrics were the victims of some dusty MBA’s hubris. But why are we destroying them, that’s what I want to know.
Something about bottom lines. Something about things having to be unusable before they can be dumpstered. Something about it being illegal to take things from dumpsters, because in this blighted landscape corporations claim ownership and control over things even after they’ve thrown them away. Something about if you don’t buy them from us you can’t have them at all. I thought about a pimp who kills a girl if she dares try to leave him. People like that exist in the world. I stopped asking questions.
Later that night, while I was drinking however much it would take for me to stop caring, a woman ambled across the store’s back lot, evading the lights with motion sensors. She worked with practiced efficiency, scrounging through the dumpster for anything that could be of use. Then, all at once, she threw up her hands, announcing to no one her joy at discovering the mound of thick, bright fabric. She crammed as much as she could into a black garbage bag she’d liberated from somewhere else. A few weeks later, the fabric had been cut apart, washed, and re-sewn into adorable patchwork dresses her 5-year-old twins wore on their first day of kindergarten.
© 2014 by Jennifer R.R. Mueller