Thumbs up


Clarity Media (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, March 2015, ISBN 9781508827979)

I must’ve caught the security guard during his first few weeks on the job. He seemed never to have had trouble from anyone who refused to let him search their bag before. At first he just asked why I’d refused.

“Because,” I said, “it feels uncivilised for private citizens to search each other.”

“Sorry,” he said, “but I do need to check your bag to see that everything looks ok.”

Do we not regard each other as peers? Can I go into their store and start searching the staff to make sure they haven’t lifted anything from my backpack?

“If you found yourself in my position,” I asked, “wouldn’t you resent the violation of respect for you that JB HiFi showed when their security guard asked to comb through your bag?”

“I only just need to peep in,” he said.

“I give you my word as a crank that I haven’t got any of JB HiFi’s stuff in there.” I said, starting to get shrill.

“So why not just let me check inside?” he asked

“Because,” I said, “I resent getting searched. It treats people like criminals to search them as they leave your building.”

“Did you see this sign?” he asked, pointing to a gigantic sign on the door, “By coming in here you have agreed to let us check your bag when you leave.”

“Sure I saw it,” I said, now screechy, “but does you announcing your intention to interpret some action as my agreement to a thing amount to me agreeing to that thing when I take the action? Imagine I had a shirt that read, ‘I make it a condition of talking to me that you’ll pay me four dollars a minute for my time.’ Just because I wear the shirt, does that mean than when you talk to me, you’ve agreed to pay me the four bucks a minute?”

“If you saw the sign,” he said, “then you’ve agreed to let us check your bag.”

“Even if that proved true,” I shrilled, “even if I’ve consented, then now I don’t! Look, even if I said now, ‘ok, you can search my bag’, and then as you reached towards it I said, ‘wait, I’ve changed my mind, now I won’t let you search it’, then there still doesn’t exist any justification for a JB HiFi to search my bag. Even if somehow I’ve agreed to let you paw through my stuff, and that by refusing now I’ve breached the agreement, then the store’s avenue of redress would become to file a suit against me. No rule exists that says a JB HiFi can tackle me to the ground and search my bag or detain me.”

We both paused. I started to leave.

“All right, Sir,” he said.

And then, for some reason that I couldn’t fathom, he thrust out his arms and gave me a double thumbs up. He started with the thumbs all the way up near his shoulders and then jerked them forward, like a referee signalling a fair goal. I still have no idea why he did it. What on earth could it have meant?






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    Hallo for Belgium!


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