People left weird things in the fuel center where I worked for a couple of months in the summer of 2019. While I never found a baby in a trashcan, I did find a big box of candy and a bag of prescription drugs.
I found the candy first.
It was a busy Sunday afternoon, overcast all day with a drizzle in the afternoon. If you think a Sunday afternoon was a tranquil time at the fuel center, think again. All the tourists who’d spent the weekend in town were fueling up before leaving for home. All the locals preparing for the workweek ahead were getting their fuel before their Monday rush. The only fuel center day busier than Sunday was Friday, when people were getting ready for weekend adventures.
About half an hour before my replacement was scheduled to arrive, I looked across the fuel center and saw a large cardboard box on top of an empty merchandiser. My first thought was that someone wanted to dump an empty box, but hadn’t taken the time to break it down and put it in a trashcan. I sighed and headed outside to dispose of the box.
Thankfully I looked in it before I tried to snatch it off the merchandiser
because the box was full (and I mean full) of candy. There were half a dozen boxes of Cracker Jacks, lollipops. Smarties, and several other varieties of yummies. It was a jackpot for someone with a sweet tooth like mine.
Alas, the candy did not belong to me.
It was quite a dilemma for a trash picking, ground scoring scavenger like me. I was pretty sure the box had been deserted, not forgotten–pretty sure but not certain. If I had been simply a customer, I might have justified loading the box into my vehicle. After all, there was no one near the box. On the other hand, I was on the clock, and I was confident the company I worked for would frown upon an employee scavenging on company property during work hours.
My next thought was, What if it’s poisoned?
Let me say, I’ve eaten food from the trash many, many times. I once lived in a college town where dumpster diving at the end of each semester was my favorite sport. During the same period, my friends and I regularly scavenged from the dumpster of a local grocery store. I never limited my food acquisitions to sealed packages, and I never worried about being poisoned. But a box full of candy? It was too good to be true! What better way to terrorize a small town than to leave poisoned candy in a busy place where ti was sure to be found and eaten? Did I really want to be done in by the deadly sin of gluttony?
I hauled the box into the kiosk and called the CSM (Customer Service Manager) on duty.
I found a big box of candy outside, I explained. It wasn’t in the trash. I might have been forgotten.
The CSM told me to bring the candy into the supermarket. She was clearly over me and my fuel center problems.
She looked a bit surprised when she saw the size of the box, but she quickly handed responsibility over to one of the assistant store managers who was bagging groceries for a customer. The assistant manager looked perplexed, but after finding the name of a local day camp written on the side of the box, she said she’d get the candy back to the organization it seemed to belong to. I was glad I no longer had to think about the abandoned treats.
It was about a week later that I found the drugs.
When I started my shift, I saw a white paper bag with the logo of the pharmacy owned by the company I worked for. The bag was on the ground near pump 3, and I figured it was empty and left behind by someone who had no qualms about littering. Once I got signed in on the POS (point-of-sale) system and updated by the coworker I was replacing, I went outside to condition the merchandise and pick up trash. I made a beeline for the pharmacy bag.
When I grabbed the bag, I was shocked to find it was heavy and rattled when it moved. I looked inside and saw four prescription bottles, each full of pills. Whoa! What was I going to do with this!
I brought the bag into the kiosk immediately so I could examine the bottles. While the bag had the logo of the company I worked for on it, the bottles were clearly from the corporate pharmacy down the street. The bottles also showed the name of the man to whom the drugs had been prescribed. Each bottle had a name of a drug on the label, but I didn’t recognize any of them.
I wondered what was going on here. Had the drugs been forgotten? Had they been dumped? if they’d been forgotten, why had they been taken out of a car and put on the ground? If they’d been dumped, why had they been left on the ground and not deposited in one of the trash cans?
I called the CSM on duty, a different one than the one I’d alerted about the box of candy. After I explained the situation, the CSM consulted with the same assistant manager who again happened to be standing right there.
The assistant manager asked if the prescriptions had been filled by our pharmacy.
I said no, the bag was from our pharmacy, but the bottles had lables from our competitor.
Throw them in the trash, she instructed.
It seemed so wrong to me. The patient had probably paid a lot of money for that medicine, and the guy was obviously sick if he needed four bottles of pills. Wasn’t there something we could do?
I knew the assistant manager had made up her mind, so I didn’t argue. I put the bag of drugs on top of the trash can in the kiosk. I figured the owner of the bag would come by in the next five hours while I was working and ask about it. When he identified himself, I could grab the bag from the top of the trash and hand it over.
I waited in vain. No one asked about a forgotten bag of prescription medication. No one skulked around the fuel center looking for a lost item. The drugs stayed in my trash can until I brought the day’s load of garbage into the store and over to the baler in the stockroom.
I hate an unsolved mystery. I’ll spend the rest of my life wondering about
those candies and drugs. Where did they come from? Who left them? Were they left on purpose or accidentally? If leaving the items was an accident, what did the person who’d left them think when the loss was discovered? How did the guy do without his medication? If the items were left on purpose, why weren’t they put in the trash can?
Like the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.
Images courtesy of https://www.pexels.com/photo/pile-of-gummy-fruit-candies-1050300/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/assorted-candy-lot-1656600/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/purple-liquid-poison-on-brown-wooden-surface-159296/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/colors-colours-health-medicine-143654/, https://www.pexels.com/photo/bunch-of-white-oval-medication-tablets-and-white-medication-capsules-159211/, and https://www.pexels.com/photo/ask-blackboard-chalk-board-chalkboard-356079/.