Wednesday 7 May 2008


J and I did a spot of shopping in a well known chain store the other day. I bought a big box to put stuff in, plus a heap of smaller stuff to put in that box. The layout of the store was such that we paid for it all at a counter well inside the store, then had to take it past the outer line of checkouts where you pay for everything else.

Since the country is supposedly mobilising for the War on Plastic Bags, and I had a big box, I declined the offer of some bags and put all the little things that I bought in the big box, then stuck the receipt on the outside detailing the 20-odd things that I'd bought and paid for.

On the way out, we were stopped momentarily by a greeter, who quite reasonably asked for a receipt and to look in the box. Then she looked at me, said "Don't bother - you two look quite honest" and waved us on.

I have to admit, we do look horribly middle class and to be the type of people that hand in wallets when we find them on the street. I imagine it was quite refreshing for her not to have to ask security to come over to frisk some over-inked mullet-topped wingnut in a singlet with a badly bleached blonde, skinny heroin-mangled skank in tow.

Until then, I'd forgotten what it was like to be treated as an honest man. Our society of today is geared towards dealing with the dishonest, the conniving, the scammers, cheaters, thieves and other assorted neer-do-wells. I had to go up to the roof of an office block not long ago - before I could do so, I had to attend a "roof induction session", read a page of guff about how to get a band-aid if I cut myself, sign a next of kin form and then a log book. Gone are the days when one can just go up to the roof for nothing more than a smoke or a look at the smog on the horizon. Everyone must be screened to ensure that no one with a malicious or suicidal purpose is allowed up onto that bare patch of concrete.

(As an aside, I noticed there was no bird shit on the roof. I presume pigeons are too lazy to fly more than 3 or 4 floors into the air).

What a terrible thing has come to pass when a security guard can't simply look at you and make a judgement call on the spot that you are ok to go up to the roof or not. The screwball thing is that if I was a total nutbag, so log as I attended the induction and signed the log book, I'd probably be allowed up to the roof in order to take a running jump into the hereafter. Covering oneself against liability has become more important than the ability to make a judgement about the fitness of a person to do this or that.

I would weep with despair if I found out that the greeter at the shop was disciplined (counseled) for failing to apply the standard search techniques to us. Acting and looking honest are no longer a defence against box ticking, paper pushing fuckwads.

May they all burn in hell.

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