The first is that which we outright discard for loss of value or unrepentant conclusion of worth; the second, what remains after destruction or usage; the last, what is set aside or left behind for multiple reasons, including everything referred to in the first and second, as well as a sense that a loss of appetite resulted in security of its existence without any judgment upon the core of its essence. Because of our own linguistic laziness, we tend to just lump them all together; but distinctions in language-games matter, and what we do with each, how we treat them, and when we act upon them, requires more than recognizing the subtlety of differentiation we may overlook.
We associate garbage with the smells of rot and decay, and set aside vast areas for landfills to bury and cover over in the remoteness of society’s outskirts, where in lands of impoverishment and suffering starvation, the outcasts of society gather just to pick at the best of the worst. Of debris, the wealthier people and nations as a whole simply discard and start over, again. Those who can ill-afford to simply begin anew, will often try and salvage what debris can be reconstituted, and attempt to rebuild lives destroyed and damaged from hurricanes, wildfires and tornadoes, or other such disasters pummeled by nature’s fury or man’s carelessness.
And for leftovers, it is appropriate that it should be the last in the tripartite of linguistic examinations. For, it applies to foods, to various aggregations of detritus, and to human beings themselves. Of entities inorganic or inert, they can represent the extra screw mistakenly inserted with the package received, or the cheap trinket purchased in a foreign land but unable to fit into the bulging suitcase and discarded under the unmade bed in the hotel room left unpaid. Of foods and other organic matter, it is the lesson taught by an overbearing parent, where loggerheads with stubborn children evoke stories once heard and continue as mythologies which – like unicorns and 3-ring circuses, never quite match the smell-test of reality – propagate like mice in the basement of dank and darkness, where the utterance, “When I was your age, what you leave as leftovers used to be the main course!” was but a boast echoing with hollow discourse upon ears deaf with such trite admonitions. But the more serious manner of the meaning is reflected by the human cost of how we treat one another. For, it is the “leftovers” of society which we forget about in the teaching lessons of wealth and abundance.
For Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who are shunned aside because of a medical condition, such that the medical condition prevents the Federal or Postal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal positional duties, the conceptual construct of what is a “leftover” is a poignant reminder of what once was, of what can still be, and a hint of hope for a future without the harassment, intimidation and constant barrage of aggressive threats propounded without concern for consequences. For, it is the lesson of the leftover which we should all bear in mind.
As any reference in this day and age of a “Biblical” concept is immediately dismissed and ignored – (remember? Of how treating the “least” is tantamount to re-crucifying at each turn?) – we must therefore embrace the lessons of our own childhoods. For, in the end, the Federal employee and U.S. Postal worker must make a decision of self-worth, and decide whether or not it is of any value to be treated as the vegetables untouched or the morsels undisturbed; or, perhaps, to “move on” and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal worker is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, and become again the “main meal” as the lesson taught once recognized, in this universe where garbage, debris and leftovers are treated all in the same manner and upon the same plate of empty promises.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire