The queue for the bins

The queue for the bins

The supermarket workers carefully put the bags in the bin out of respect because they know this food is the livelihood of many families

Ignacio Lillo


Friday, 10 November 2023, 17:06


lt is the early afternoon and there is already a queue of people waiting by the back door of the supermarket. This is a daily occurrence, except on Sundays when they are not open. Then they sit on the large glass windows belonging to a nearby hotel, and there they pass the time as they think about how they are going to make a living.

One person uses a rickety scooter to carry his things, another uses an old shopping cart that was once used to shop along the well-lit and well-stocked supermarket shelves.

On the other side of the walls of the supermarket however it is dark, so people use flashlights to rummage through the bins. And also a bad smell, because at this time of day the bin has already been filled with bags of rubbish that have been sent down by parents who tell their children to

The supermarket workers carefully put the bags in the bin out of respect because they know this food is the livelihood of many families. "There is some tinned food in this bag which is perfectly fine to eat, and in the other one some trays that have just been taken out but there is nothing wrong with them," they tell the crowd, who are grateful for the advice on where to begin searching.

The employees have barely turned around when the rummaging begins, involving four or five people. In a matter of minutes, everything that is good to eat is divided into bags through a quick and quiet conversation, and all this while hardly making a mess around the bin. Having collected everything that is usable, the group disperses, each one by their own means, until they meet again the next afternoon at the same place and the same time.

Until then, other rubbish containers in other neighbourhoods await them as they search for scrap metal; some secret scavenging to get a few euros to pay rent for their room in a shared apartment; or to pay for the electricity and the butane in the house they inherited from their late parents, which is already falling apart.

This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Malaga, but here the contrast is more shocking, because it has grown exponentially in a short period of time. In a city which is home to Google, among other big multinational companies; a city where you find apartments costing a million euros. In one of the most fashionable cities in Europe, the back doors of supermarkets are full of people waiting to scavenge for some food to take home, and it is not fair.

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