Silly rules

Now I’ve got a car that isn’t shit I’m determined to use it. So I’ve signed up as a volunteer with an internet company a friend told me about. They’re all about preventing food waste. The deal is, you show up at crack of dawn, they offload a bunch of stuff that’s about to expire, you take it home, put it in the fridge, and list it all individually in their app. Then people in your local area bagsy the stuff they need.

I’m not far from an estate managed by the same dangerous buggers as Grenfell was. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’ll be some pickup, as nobody else is doing it in my area. You accept the request and then leave it on your doorstep at the appointed time. They appear and wander off with it. From a friend who does it, it’s mostly pastries. I thought, in order to try it out, I’d book a one off pick-up slot. Just to see how it goes. I can be a pastry-conduit.

I was going to have to be at a supermarket near me at 7 in the morning tomorrow. I didn’t relish the early morning but I was weirdly excited at the prospect of helping the community. I enjoy moving energy around far too much for my own good.

The store insists on an induction first though, so I booked one in for 3pm today. I was driving at 3pm, so I set an alarm. Jo was going to call me on my mobile. Fifteen minutes to ascertain that I’m not going to stagger into the shop drunk and be sick on all the shelves while shouting “This shop is the best!”

I pulled off the motorway into a service station at 2.50pm and waited. At 3.05 I started messaging the group chat, trying to raise somebody. Nothing. No induction in the fifteen minute slot. I sat in my car waiting for half an hour for an induction that is nothing more than lip service. It probably involves telling you the supermarket’s brand values and making sure you know how to open a door without falling over. And it never came.

I figured I’d show up anyway, and said so to the group chat, but no. “Rules are rules,” I’m told by my volunteer coordinator. Better to let the food go to waste than to break the rules!?! I’m not going to go now. I suspect that if I break the rules and appear it’ll be considered worse than if I just let it go to waste, because, as so often, the letter of the law trumps the spirit of the law.

This is the problem with the world.

Tara came home once in a mood. She worked as an intensive care nurse and she’d been disciplined. “I used a machine to save a guys life. I haven’t had training in the UK but I have in Australia. I was told I shouldn’t have used it without the UK training. I said the guy would have died. They said ‘Maybe that would’ve made them change the rules.’ “

This is just some wasted food. But it’s stupid. You’ve got a willing volunteer, happy to give up his time to make it work. You’ve got loads of food heading to the bin. You’ve got a system in place to get that food to people who want it. But you can’t, because you have to tell the volunteer that the door opens inwards and the colour blue means that we really care for the environment, and this is our excruciating acronym, sign here.

This is why I wouldn’t last three seconds in an office. At least I get a lie in.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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