A manager at a California Taco Bell is being met with public backlash after he allegedly ordered employees to lock and barricade a homeless man inside the store’s cardboard recycling bin. The man, referred to only as “Josh” was allegedly trapped inside for over an hour before he was released.
The incident was reported to police by sixteen year old Jacob Cook, who was eating breakfast at the fast food restaurant when he overheard an employe tell his manager Darrin Hailey that a homeless man was asleep inside the receptacle. According to Cook, Hailey responded by laughing and ordering the employee to put the bar over the container and close the gate.
When Cook decided to follow the employee outside, he was shocked to see that the employee did not even bother to attempt to speak to the man inside. “He didn’t even open the Dumpster, talk to the guy or anything. He just closed this bar, latched the gate and then walked back inside,” Cook said. “Over the time that this was happening the guy actually banged on the trash can a couple times so I knew that he was in there.”
Hailey claims that Cook’s depiction of the incident is “extremely false.” He says that “The gentleman was sleeping in the Dumpster. We simply closed the dumpster gates… per city ordinance. The Dumpster itself was unlocked at all times. Nothing was locked… the lid has to remain closed or the city fines us a bunch of money.”
Hailey took the local news crew out to the dumpster and made a show of proving that it can not even lock. When he showed himself to be wrong about the dumpster’s ability to lock, he simply repeated that it was not locked. “All you have to do is push and it pops open. There is no physical way to lock that Dumpster. I can’t stress that enough… It doesn’t matter if the bar was in place or not — it doesn’t lock it. I assure you, I’m not the devil and I’m not locking people in my Dumpsters,” he said.
Taco Bell is standing by the manager’s statements. In a statement to Consumerist.com, the fast food chain had this to say:
[box type=”shadow”]We are an organization that puts people first, from our team members, to franchisees, to customers and the people in the communities in which we serve. These rumors are completely untrue and are not a reflection of our values.[/box]
However, Redding police disagree with the assertion that the man was not locked in the dumpster. According to them, “an employee of Taco Bell who closed and locked dumpster enclosure gate, trapping [the man] inside and then threw a bag of trash over the enclosure on top of [him].”
The manager’s claim about fines is inherently false, as well. The city charges a $42 fee per year for a four-yard dumpster. Businesses are encouraged to keep lids closed, as cardboard must be thrown out if it is wet. However, the city says there are no fines.
This incident is not all bad, though. Cook says he has made a new friend in “Josh.” After the man was released from the dumpster, Cook took him out for coffee and bought him a new pair of shoes. Josh repaid his kindness by giving him a dollar bill with the words “I HOPE” inscribed upon it.
Jacob says he wants to find Josh again, so that he can find more ways to help him.