Saturday, October 27, 2007

Tales From The Urban Utopia, Part 3

Apparently I'm Gay Now
A couple of kids come into the store with the expressed purpose of buying beer. Right in front of me, I hear the younger of the two tell the older to "Grab the six pack." The older goes back to get the beer and the younger stays behind to buy some cigarettes.

Of course, I check his ID to sell him the cigarettes. He actually offers it for me to inspect before I even ask for it. He was born in 1987. I don't remember the exact date, but it doesn't matter becuase it doesn't change the fact that anyone born between January First and December Thirty-first in 1987 will still only be a maximum of twenty years old in 2007.

So I sell him the cigarettes because he's old enough to buy them, but I tell the other kid that I can't sell him the beer because his friend isn't old enough. He tries ploy number one: "Oh, it's not for him."

Bullshit. I tell him that I heard his friend say to grab the six pack right in front of me. Don't treat me like I'm some sort of failure at life when you're the one trying to break the law.

So he resorts to the very mature and highly respected tactic of whining, begging, and name-calling. As if insulting me is going to endear me to you, right? "Come on, man, don't be gay," he says. When I told him that I'm not going to break the law for him, he responds with "Fine then, be gay."

Okay, what does being gay have to do with my not knowingly enabling him to buy alcohol for a minor at the cost of my job and my own upright reputation? Whatever. I'm getting really sick of asshole customers flinging their stupidity at me for eight hours a day, and it's making me far more bold the less I give a shit. "Okay," I responded, "but I really have no idea how. Got any advice?"

Having A Gun Is Not A Social Skill
A kid walks in off the street and asks if he can borrow some tissues. We have a box of Kleenex for store use, so I figure I can spare him a few. Right next to him, however, is a particularly inebriated customer who decides to pipe up, "You know if you get a job, you can afford your own."

Before, this sort of confrontation might worry me, but after so long, I'm just dead to it. Instead of worrying that I might have a fight on my hands, I just stand there, expressionless, waiting for the cutomer's credit transaction to go through, thinking in a sort of mental sigh, "Christ. Don't make me have to call the cops." It's sad when part of the criteria for having a good day at work involves not having to call the police.

As if this is some sort of credible excuse, the kid responds with, "Man don't bother me, I just got out of prison."

This actually caught my interest. Not the fact that the tension between the two could be cut with a welding torch, but the way he offered that exuse as if it was something perfectly reasonable, as if he were saying, "Cut me some slack, my grandmother just died." I actually had to choke back a smile and the nearly overwhelming urge to butt in with "Oh yeah, that makes you a winner."

Where are we going as a society when going to prison is considered a source of pride that people wear on their sleeves as a badge? Going to prison is not something you should brag about. Ever. It means you are a fuck-up. Unless you were wrongfully convicted, but even then you don't hear people proudly boasting, "I had to go to prison because the police fucked up." Normal, law-abiding citizens aren't proud to go to prison, even if it is by mistake. This kid offered it as casually as if it were just another accomplishment to check off his list of things to do before he dies.

You especially don't want to brag about going to prison if you're a young, lean, pasty-skinned black kid with almost no muscle tone. You know what young, lean, pasty-skinned black kids with no muscle tone are in prison? Meat. So not only was this kid boasting about serving time in prison before he even made it out of his teens, but he was also indirectly admitting to anyone well-versed in reading between the lines that he was very likely forced to be some guy's wife until he grew to enjoy it.

Later on, he came back while I was trying to do some inventory work. I'm in the middle of counting about seventy of an item. I get right up somewhere around fifty, and without preamble, he starts asking questions. It annoyed me so greatly I automatically lost count. I literally said, "Forty-six, forty-eight, fuck." If you see someone counting something, the respectful thing to do is to wait for them to get done before you start belching out your bovine ghetto pidgin. The kid could have waited an extra fifteen seconds for me to get done, but no, he wanted attention right now. People that inconsiderate annoy me.

A few minutes later, our one of the newspaper vendors came in and I was in the middle of counting their stock, and he chose that moment to interrupt me in the middle of counting again. Apparently the only time this kid's brain can activate the necessary motor skills involved in generating what passes as human speech is when he sees people counting shit. I'm like: This is why you can't get a job. You have no social skills. This is why you went to prison and this is why you'll always be a loser. You know? Having a gun is not considered a social skill.

You Know He's Five, Right?
The absolute last thing anybody ever wants to do is make an observation on how anyone else is raising their children. Apparently being a parent is equitable with religion an politics these days in that it's something sacred to people that you had better not disagree with, even if what they believe is irrefutably and emphatically wrong.

Just like there are certain religious fanatics who will never in any conceivable way reach their utopian state and there are certain political pundits who should never be allowed to either cast a vote themselves or encourage others to do so in any particular way, there are certain parents who should never, ever be allowed to have children. Of course, just like the religious fanatics and political pundits, the parents least eligible to properly raise their children are the most adamant about their right to do so.

Knowing this, and knowing that there is nearly no greater insult than to correct the improper behaviour of a parent before it can turn into a potentially damaging trend, I still almost made a remark to a mother the other night.

First of all, this mother had her child, who couldn't have been over seven and that is being generous, out at three in the morning. In itself, this isn't necessarily as horrible a taboo as it used to be, especially not on a weekend, because some parents are doing the best they can with what they have, which is not very much in today's society. It'd be less forgivable if, for instance, they had their five-year-old child out at three in the morning on the way back from the late showing of Saw IV, which as horrendous as that may seem, is probably happening somewhere in the country right now.

The thing that damn near got me to get all up in this mother's business, however, was what she said to the child. She was getting ready to pay, and she asked her son if he got a drink. The kid was playing around in the candy aisle, you know, being a kid, and he looked up to her and said, "No." She winced in impatience and spat out, "God you're so stupid!" The husband said nothing and didn't even look surprised, which leads me to believe that this is a normal occurrence, because quite frankly, if I wasn't used to my wife calling my child stupid and she suddenly did, I would definitely at least make some sort of evident facial show of displeasure.

So to recap, because the impatient mother was too busy worrying about her own concerns to make sure her preschooler picked out a drink, she resorted to angrily telling the child, "God you're so stupid!"

It took all of my willpower, knowing everything I do about the righteous indignation of a mother scorned, to not tell her, "You know he's, like, five, right?"

I mean, they're not going to pop out of your body as fully functioning, socially aware adults. You have to teach them everything they know, and when you talk to them like that, all you teach them is ignorance and hatred. It's been scientifically proven that if you constantly tell your children that they're stupid, you'll end up raising nothing but stupid children. You're the parent; you're all they have to put their faith in. Everything you tell them for, like, the first twenty years of their lives, they're going to believe because they look to you as the authority on everything. So if you contantly reinforce to them that they're stupid, guess what the only thing they're going to believe about themselves is? That they're stupid. If they're lucky, they'll get into the real world and realize that they're not stupid, you are, but by then it's often too late because it's difficult to break free from the cycle of failure that you've trapped them in.

If you're not patient enough to raise your children properly, you should have probably thought about that before you chose to open your legs for business.


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