Back when I worked in fast food, a couple of days after I started my night manager came upon a homeless guy rummaging through our Dumpster just before closing, and he quickly had us make up a combo as his free meal for the night and gave it to the guy out back. After that, every night a guy would show up, but it was a different guy each time, and the manager would give away his meal to whoever it was. After about 9-10 days the first guy was back, and the manager asked him why it’d been so long between visits, and the guy said they were taking turns (from a makeshift “camp” nearby) getting a decent meal. He said, “From now on, stop taking turns – bring everyone tomorrow.”
She told the rest of us, and that next night we started paying a lot more attention to what we were throwing away. Anytime we had an item that was returned because we got it wrong or whatever, we took the returned item and put it aside. When we were supposed to throw out the fries because they were too old, we’d put them in a bag instead. Each of us was entitled to a free combo meal per workday, and most of us chose to give it up to the parking-lot guys. That night, eight guys showed up just before closing in the dark of our lot. Our night manager walked up to the group with a dozen bags of items, most of them hot and just-prepared, passed them around and said, “Come back tomorrow, and we’ll see what we can do.”
This went on every night for the rest of the summer that I worked there. On lean nights when we didn’t have as much to throw out or give away, he’d run across the highway to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread and a pack of cheese with his own money and we’d make grilled cheese sandwiches for the men behind the building in the last minutes before we’d shut down.
I worked late nights at that fast-food store for just two months, and during that time we probably fed 8-10 guys a night for eight or nine weeks straight before I left to start back at school, and I bet the franchisee probably never knew about it. I had been raised in a pretty privileged environment, but in that 2 months, I learned how to give back and help out. We were just four teenaged girls working the night shift at a fast food place, but we never felt threatened or unsafe – mostly we left at night feeling like maybe we did a little tiny bit of good for these guys.
A lot of people do want to help out. Let them.
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