Every day when I pull into my work parking lot, I scan the gray concrete searching for trash left over from the previous night’s events. For the past year, it has been my honor to hunt and gather these treasures into the bin, in hopes of making the place presentable to prospective clients. It never stays tidy for long though.
My workplace sits adjacent to a bustling bus stop on a busy highway in a rougher part of town. Due to my position inside the office near a large window, I’ve witnessed many special scenes, not just the leftover remnants of them. As I am soon to transfer away from this location, I chose to commemorate my stay with a top-ten list.
Top ten tossed treasures and traumatic tableaus:
10. Super Sad Snack times
I often find trash in clumps indicating the subject stopped to snack on multiple items whilst awaiting their transport. Sometimes these combo-clumps tell a sad tale that is all too familiar. Like the time I found an empty Ben & Jerry’s ice cream carton next to an empty plastic bottle of cheap Vodka. Or the pile of cherry stems, pizza crusts, and cigarette butts. I usually wallow in ice cream and cigarettes in private but, who knows, give me a few years and I might throw up my hands and have at it in a random parking lot too.
9. Bagel Buffet
As a food-lover, and a carb-lover in particular, I was especially annoyed when I discovered a full dozen untouched bagels strewn about the parking lot. Someone had better have a damn good reason for leaving bread behind. Don’t people know about the poor starving kids in Africa… or down the street? Or was my mother the only one to harp on that? When my annoyance dissipated, my imagination took off with the potential events that could lead to this tragic waste of scrumptious sustenance.
Was a kind client on their way to deliver the bagels to our door but then attacked by hungry seagulls? Or did the seagulls shoplift the treats from a delivery truck and fly over from the nearby grocery store? Perhaps they were caught in the crime and had to flee the scene? Or did the bag just tear as someone rushed to catch a bus? Or was a dissatisfied client leaving behind tempting treats in an attempt to send me to the latrine? Whatever the circumstances, waste is always woeful. Luckily, I was strong enough to resist the temptation. I don’t know how the birds fared, however.
8. Heroin Hiatus
Now this one I found seriously shocking and sad. I lost a loved one to Heroin addiction when I was a teenager and I absolutely abhor the stuff and anyone who profits from it. But yes, I have found discarded Heroin needles in our parking lot and I have had to report clients who consistently display track marks.
I could write a book on the harmful effects and all my opinions on drugs and addiction but there are plenty out there already penned by professionals, so I’ll spare you. My main take away from the discovery is that these issues aren’t just on the news or in books, they’re affecting our friends and neighbors. It is everyone’s responsibility to stay watchful and speak up when we notice the warning signs. Not just the warning signs of drug use, but the signs of traumas that lead people to view drugs as a necessity.
7. Smoking Sod
In the Summer, our bus stop sees an increase of smokers and a corresponding increase of discarded cigarettes. Some of these cigarettes are still on fire when they’re flicked into the bushes or surrounding mulch mounds. Without the rain or snow to extinguish the sparks, it is up to us to stand watch. So, we all keep our eyes out for smoke in the Summertime.
There is even a designated bucket in case we need to run out and douse the flaming foliage. I never thought it would be commonplace for a coworker to say, “Hey, the lawn is on fire again. Can you take care of that? I’m helping a customer.” Then again, I never thought I’d be cleaning up Heroin needles or seriously considering eating bagels off the ground so, that’s life in America. Thanks, Obama. (jk, I love you).
6. Cologne Collection
On entering the building one morning, I spotted a small backpack in the bushes. In my morning daze, I figured I better investigate in case it hid something dangerous in its’ many zipped pockets. I had no plan on what I would do if I found something dangerous, but my morning mind doesn’t think that far ahead.
I dove in and discovered damp designer pajama bottoms and a small collection of colognes. My morning daze transformed into total confusion. Obviously, some poor wandering homeless man had forgotten his stash of sleazy smells.First I felt pity. But how did this homeless person acquire designer DKNY pajama bottoms and a collection of expensive Hugo Boss/Hilfiger/Calvin Klein brand bottles?
I can’t even afford that stupid Bath & Body Works crap. I wait for a holiday for one of my female friends to re-gift me some of theirs. My pity then turned full circle on myself. I had taken a homeless person’s bag and turned it into a sad reflection on my own life. That is talent right there! Watch out, Lena Dunham, you’re not the only narcissist writer on the block.
5. Couples Caressing as Costumed Kid Cartoons
I’m going about my business at my desk one day when I hear my coworker exclaim, “Umm. What is going on out there?” and stop to gaze out the window facing the bus stop. Curious to discover the cause of her careful scrutiny, I approached to find a very public display of affection taking place between a plump twenty-something and her boyfriend on the bench outside.
It wasn’t the crass crotch-massaging that startled me so much as the bright Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-Turtle costume the adult male was wearing on a day that was definitely not Halloween. When the turtle reached down his mate’s backside, started massaging his own little Donatello, and all the while continued to puff lazily on his Newport’s, my small-town Midwestern awe at city-living quickly went up in smoke along with his cheap cigarette. My coworker simply grabbed her phone and started recording video stating, “No one is going to believe us.”
4. Piles of Poo & Passive Police
A customer walked in shaking her head and muttering, “Now I’ve really seen it all.” Afraid of the answer, I didn’t ask what she’d seen but simply carried on with my work. But, of course, my curiosity crept up causing me to peek out towards the infamous bus stop. There sat a one-legged man balancing his bottom over the edge of the bench and unburdening his bowels like he was in his own bathroom.
He buttoned up like nothing had happened and continued to wait for his bus. The smell must have spread, though, because a short Asian man soon perked up his nose and tracked down the pile of poo. I couldn’t hear his reaction, but I saw him yell and shake his finger at the one-legged man for a good three minutes.
Concerned for the sanitation of our corner, we called the police about the mess. Ten minutes passed before a policeman pulled in, pinpointed the pile and the perpetrator, and passively explained the problem with public pooping. He let us know he’d addressed the situation. It turns out the man is a disabled and homeless veteran so there would be no fine.
3. Pounds of Pot
My office building shares a neighborhood with many “alternative medicine” clinics and “herb” shops so a lot of pot-smokers come and go in our area. On April 20th of all days, a non-customer visited us and asked us some questions about our company. He carried with him a brown paper shopping bag full of what we naively assumed were his groceries. We answered his questions and he went on his merry way. After ten minutes or so another customer pointed out his brown paper bag sitting in our lobby.
I went to pick it up to place it in our lost-and-found box but low and behold, I held pounds of pot in my hands, not eggs or bread. Not sure what to say or do, I discreetly carried the bag to my boss and leaned it over for her to peek in. She glanced in and said, “He’ll be back for it. Just wait.” We waited about twenty minutes and he wandered slowly back in to ask, “Did I leave something here, miss?” My boss replied, “Not the best thing to leave behind.” My coworker whispered, “Damn it, that would have been sweet.”
2. Penis, penis, penis
The first time I saw penis in the parking lot was when a very high fellow mistook our planter for a urinal and took out his piece for a piss right outside our windowed conference room where upper-level management members sat in a meeting.The second time I saw penis was when a drunk man decided to bare all in our bushes and wander around with his pants around his ankles. The third, and I’m hoping the final time, was when a respectable (looking) businessman stripped down behind the retaining wall near the bus stop to change his clothes into something more casual. I’m tired of seeing penis guys.
1. Sex Stop
I sometimes leave the office after six as the sun starts to set. As one working girl ends her day, plenty of poverty-stricken prostitutes just begin. Sex workers start up their shifts and wander the highway selling themselves. Suddenly the sad snacks, drugs paraphernalia and empty ice cream cartons make more sense.
If anyone out there ever discovers us sitting out in the remote parking lot of the universe, I wonder what they’ll make of what remains and the “civilization” we created.