Granola Factory

A.B. Robinson

I knew a guy who worked in a granola factory, up in the
Pacific Northwest, some part that has gotten
expensive—was it Portland? was it British Columbia?
After rent there was no money for food. Preferring
hunger to chancing life out of his car (wouldn’t you?)
he’d get through a meal or two a day by filling his
stomach with remaindered granola when the boss and
the snitches weren’t looking. It wasn’t bad—I remember
him explaining— they weren’t going to bin the granola
because it was burnt, or the grain was spoiled, or the
rats got to it. The color of a batch was a little dark, or the
clusters of oats were too big or too small, or somebody
forgot to pour a sack of freeze-dried blueberries onto a
conveyor belt. All the same, you weren’t allowed to eat
it. Even the dumpster out back had a padlock, so he
had to be quick. And even so, he said, eating it was
horrible. He’d get blinding headaches, his gums were
sore and red, he took terrible shits. It was just sugar, he
said, sugar and puffed rice and oats and sugar. Berries,
for the rich to sprinkle, virtuously, on their yogurt. “It isn’t
like we were making it to live on.”