There are a few reasons for this.
For one, I haven't rescued any food in almost a year. After my Uptown Freegans meetup group fizzled out last winter, I just didn't have the gumption to get out there and keep it going on my own (though I do intend to ramp up my own food rescuing again this year). More significantly still, I took up a new day job last July. And this time, I couldn't justify it with metaphorical talk of dishes and revolution. No, this time I got a job in retail.
I didn't make the choice lightly, knowing full well how dissonant it would be for me to work such a job. Especially after I'd spent the previous four years touting my freegan lifestyle and ideals. Indeed, there are many aspects of working retail that I absolutely loathe -- we employees are not paid a living wage, customers are often rude and inconsiderate, consumerism and debt spending are encouraged, many products are inherently wasteful or otherwise harmful to the environment, and there is an immense amount of paper, plastic, and fuel that is wasted in packaging and transporting goods from factories and warehouses to the store.
Nevertheless, I was convinced that this was the right choice for me, at this particular point in my life, and I wish to finally come out of the closet -- to explain why... how I got sold on retail.
"Why do you want to work here?"
I mean... I don't. I just need the money and I enjoy rockclimbing!
I didn't say that, of course, but it's what I was thinking. So I stammered through the rest of the interview and ultimately bombed it.
Embarrassed, and still needing some scratch rather badly, I asked another friend for some guidance: how can I honestly answer these questions and still walk away with a job like this one? She coached me a bit and I gave the interview another try about a year later, at the same store, but with a new manager.
This time, I landed the job with no problem!
I had been sold on the prospect of working such a job, so when it came time to answer those questions, I was prepared with honest answers that didn't violate my principles.
"Why do you want to work here?"
Well, I have some experience working retail, at a volunteer-run bookshop in my neighborhood. When customers come in looking for a particular book, I love being able to help them find what they're looking for. I also happen to enjoy the outdoors and outdoor activities; I care about the earth and its ecosystems and I love interacting with them in various ways -- camping, hiking, rockclimbing... I'd love to equip other people to enjoy the outdoors as much as I do, in ways that both keep them safe and protect the environment that they wish to engage.
I've been working at this job since July (nearly eight months now) and as I mentioned above, it's not all flowers and rainbows (though flowers and rainbows are among the natural phenomena that I hope our customers will enjoy and preserve as we equip them for their outdoor adventures). There are plenty of serious problems with the way that humans produce, consume, and make-ends-meet in the world today. But for now, in this season of my life, working outdoor-sporting-goods-retail trumps the alternative, of putting myself and my family out on the street. I need the steady work, modest income, and steep discounts on gear that I could otherwise never afford.
So I'll keep at it for now, hopefully not swinging too far from my freegan and anti-capitalist sensibilities and convictions. And in the mean time, I'll still offer my music for free, volunteer time and energy in my neighborhood, rescue food whenever possible, and always listen to my conscience. It's all I can do to persuade myself (and you, my gracious and understanding readers) that I've not completely sold out.