Turned Away

Turned Away
Imagine, hypothetically, that you are charged with receiving and processing donations to a charitable recycling store. Imagine also that you are short-staffed and overburdened. Donations are piled higher than you can reach, and you can no longer see the floor in the receiving bay.

You make an executive decision. There will be no more donations today. The gates are closed. You post a polite sign apologizing for the temporary situation, and you look forward to a day of unimpeded donation-sorting.

Smart move, right?


People who donate to charities do not take kindly to being turned away. They are, at first, bewildered. Then they become belligerent. How could you deny them this opportunity of selfless charity? Don’t you know they are the good guys? What are they to do with all their unwanted donations? There are only two options; take them to another charity store or take them to the waste management facility.

But they are really good usable things! Someone could still use them!

This is true. Unfortunately, most people are doing exactly what you are doing. Removing usable stuff to make way for more fashionable stuff. We have lots of usable outdated stuff. Too much, in fact. That’s why we are closing the gate today.

If you go to the dump, you have to pay the waste management fee. In our area that is $7. For that, you get several other people to solve your dilemma and a large area of land in which to sort your unwanted possessions. So, by standing here berating me for not taking your stuff, you are trying to avoid the cost of two cups of coffee.

We talk about old windows, toilets, and screen doors. We talk about how far you drove to get here. We talk about the value of recycling. We never talk about overconsumption. Customers may be good-hearted, well-intentioned, and kind people, but they aren’t always right.

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  1. Thanks, Malcolm. Since I posted this I’ve been wondering if there is some reasonable way to get our oversupply of doors to people who can use them. I know clothing gets bundled and shipped to developing countries, but doors are probably too big and heavy to make it worth while.

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