By Kristin McGrath
The cars were parked in the spaces clearly labeled, “15 minute customer parking ONLY.” Yet this was a daytime rule, one that, at 25 minutes after midnight, had no authority — much like the rule that anyone wanting food from a grocery store must enter during operating hours, fill a cart with unblemished produce and pay for it.
On this particular spring night, the Trader Joe’s in Falls Church, Va. — or, rather, its dumpster, was the first stop for the cars’ occupants. As it turned out, it wasn’t even necessary to go into the dumpster — nine shopping carts surrounded it, filled with bulging plastic bags. Inside were discarded loaves of Tuscan Pane bread, zucchini, oatmeal, chocolate chip scones, pita bread, naan, a package of brownie cookies, strawberries and some non-edible items, including a Trader Joe’s T-shirt, wrapping paper and some greeting cards.
Two men wearing authoritative-looking florescent yellow and orange vests approached. If they were store employees or security, the group would be asked, or more likely ordered, to leave.