Friday, April 13, 2012

Bad Reputation

It was today, when I was stopped for not shop-lifting that got me thinking about stereotypes and misconceptions. It’s a busy world and if you don’t jump to conclusions now and then, you’re probably wasting a whole lot of time. Shopping at Target once with my daughter, she was stopped several times and asked to help other customers. Why?  She was wearing khaki pants and a red shirt. She was about eleven years old, but it didn’t matter, she was wearing the uniform.
We all know that there is some serious profiling going on at airports. I know this because I fit one of the demographics. You know those full body scanners with the embarrassing visual probes that are sprouting up in airports all over the world?  I object. Am I being modest?  Actually, no; if there was a way to speed the security process, I’d be one of those annoying people willing to give up the freedom of standing in line for an hour and a half. Yet I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern. When I go through a full body scanner, I am pulled aside. “I’m sorry, Ma’am. Would you please step over here for a pat down?”  And every single time they pat down only my calves. They give me various explanations, my favorite is, “We are checking the hems of your pants.”  Then why are you patting just my calves and ignoring my dangerous hem?  I have unnaturally large calves. They don’t fit awesome fashion boots, much to my eternal dismay. They dream about skinny jeans that they will never wear. I blame it on the fact that I run, but the truth is, they’ve always been like that. My hubby lovingly calls them my “Thor” legs, isn’t that romantic?  So on behalf of bulky-calved disproportionate women everywhere, can I just ask what the heck do you think I’m packing in my calves anyway?
Recently I accompanied my buddy, Comrade, to the doctor’s. Now Comrade is a generation or two ahead of me, but we go together like peas and carrots. We approach most everything as an awesome adventure, so we just ran with it when everyone from the Receptionist to the Nurses and Physicians stereotyped us and addressed me, instead of her. It was blatant Ageism. They talked really loud and slow (she insisted that was for my benefit, not hers). I, of course, ran with it and repeated things back to her and explained all those complex medical gadgets, “This is a scale. You will be charged per pound.” 

Now some misconceptions can be rather pleasant. My little niece loves that I’m a writer. She is now old enough that she has stopped picking up random books and asking if I wrote this one, or that one, but now she wants to know how much money I made writing my last novel. “None,” I explained. “I have to sell it first.”  She found this a bit disappointing and pressed, until I finally confessed I had just sold a little story and earned enough for two boxes of Dilly Bars from Dairy Queen. “WOW. Are you famous?” she asked. “Have you ever heard of me?” I replied. To which I got the response, “WOW. That is so cool.”  I wish she could just stay at this age for years. I really like being someone’s idea of cool.
Apparently leaving the mall with the same amount of goods you walked in with is a sign of a shoplifter. Either that or hanging around the shoe department and just taking pictures of shoes is. At any rate as I was exiting the 'maul', a security guard bellowed at me, “Don’t you want to check-out before you leave?!” The thing is, when I turned around to look at him, he simply said, “Oh, never mind. Sorry.” And he walked away. So apparently I only look like a thief from the back. I’m thinking that it was probably my awesome, gangster, Pleather jacket. I was all Joan Jett until I turned around. Well, at least he didn’t pat down my calves.


  1. You totally crack me up! I always ask a shopper if they can help me find this or that and I always get a dirty look … you'd think I'd learn and look for the name tag first! I even did this at a restaurant recently, but the woman was wearing a nametag… just not one that said, "Welcome to Chile's! My name is…" Oopsie! ;)

  2. Why is that ever an insult anyway? My daughter luved it, she knew where everything was too :D

  3. Oh, and ftr, I had the chocolate lava cake there… twice… in one week… explanation in my blog next week… :)

  4. You're too funny. I remember when I was in high school I got stopped for shoplifting Little Debbies from a grocery store. I carried it around the store for a while trying to talk myself out of buying it because I really wanted them (but I knew I couldn't afford the calories). In the end, I left them somewhere and a security card chased me down. I was so mad-- showed him where I left the box. My best friend was cracking up the whole time. To this day, I always put things back where I found them. ;) -Isabel

  5. Bad reputation...
    My dad (my Irish with uber dark auburn hair) always gets pulled over at airports to be checked out. Apparently when he tans he looks Arab. No joke. That's the way he was described when we went to Hawaii after 9/11...and it happened every year after that.
    As for me...I accidentally swung a Sylvester stuffed animal through a store beeper and set it off - thus scaring the dickens out of my 8 year old self.
    But if we're honest...I was curious as to what would happen and swinging a bit too close to that store sensor thing.

  6. Ya know Kelsey, I have to fight the urge to set off those sensors every time I go to the store. What is it with writers?
    Your Dad has my sympathy - I get the private pat down on account of my mutant muscular calves. The TSA has me on the "no one has calves same size as their thighs" list.