Thursday, February 16, 2006

The usual suspects

Today was interesting.

Our routine began as it always does - sunny, like the past six days, I roll over and announce that I'm sleepy and Jon plays his role by responding with an encouraging yet half-asleep "come on, you can do it. get up!". So I ease out of bed just as Jonathan greedily snatches up the sleeping territory that I have relinquished, sprawling from bed side to bed side for three more seconds of sleep. As I grab the shower curtain for a steamy, groggy shower, Jonathan grabs the milk jug to douse his bowl of granola in skim-milk goodness. Ten minutes later, I'm soppy-haired and robed and preparing our mutual morning pick-me-up by turning on the stove top espresso maker. Jonathan darts to the bathroom to discover whatever hot water remains of my wash-rinse-repeat-condition-wait-rinse-repeat-lather-rinse-exfoliate -rinse-repeat morning ritual. Thankfully we live in a building that is equipped with a rather large hot water tank so Jonathan is spared. We regroup fifteen minutes latter - dressed and all doled up - over our creamy espressos, and listen to CBC radio until it's time to catch our bus to campus.

Somewhere between then and now, the rest of the day comes together. Today Jonathan-the-thrasher played squash with a school buddy after marking student papers on campus while I attended class, and finished some RA work. Shortly before returning to the city in the evening, we stopped off at Superstore to pick up my President's Choice Granola, and the ingredients for our evening quiche.

And that, my friends brings me to today's rant.

As soon as Jonathan and I breached the sliding doors to the grocery emporium, it struck me that no one was standing there waiting to exert their authority by confiscating our backs' possessions. That is, Superstore has a policy that forbids customers from bringing bags into their establishment. Last time that Jonathan and I had an empty pantry, we were stopped by the Superstore Gestapo and told that we weren't allowed to take our bookbags in with us. This prompted me to ponder "why"? which I asked quite vocally. I was relishing the thought that in a second's moment, the grocery clerk would have to tell me to my face that she was afraid that I would steal something. I wanted that moment, but alas it never came, and the response I got I believe is even more telling, which was, to prolong the suspense no longer than this which is already long enough by any standard, including Hollywood's: "because it says so". "Because it says so" was coupled with a gesture towards a sign with a smiley faced stick man wearing a backpack that had a blood-red X crossed through it.

Ah, I see. The reason I'm not allowed a backpack was because there is a sign that says so. It truly shocked me that this women's thought process to my question of "why" was that the legitimacy of her vocal policy can be entirely contingent on there simply being a sign or commend from above stipulating so, not a rational explanation for it, the latter of which I was asking for. Interestingly enough, what the sign didn't say was that mothers with diaperbags and strollers, or a family of four with bookbags were exempt from the policy because well, those kind of people don't steal (and also wouldn't stand to be treated as potential thieves).

Poorish students, like Jonathan and I however... well we're to be suspected and to stand for it. And suspected we were. But stand for it, we didn't, at least not before having a bit of fun. Last time, when Jonathan insisted on bringing his plastic bag of textbooks with him into the store, the clerk allowed him to, but not before taping the handles of his bag shut. To demonstrate the humorousness of Superstore's pathetic anti-theft technique, Jonathan then pointed out to the clerk that he could still fit a couple cans of apple juice down the small opening remaining in the bag that the masking tape hadn't sufficiently covered and advised the clerk to cover the hole in light of this. At that, the clerk promptly proceeded to secure another wad of masking tape over the gap. We were chuckling the whole time and she just didn't get it. This woman takes her job seriously.

Honestly, if Jonathan and I were really going to steal a family pack of bone-in chicken thighs, you'd think a bit of masking tape wouldn't stop us. And if we weren't going to steal, you'd think a bag-taping, knapsack-confiscating policy would piss us off to the extent that we'd rather not shop there.

Fortunately for Superstore, I love PC Granola, so I'll put up with a little store frisking to get my morning nutrients.

And unfortunately for the bottom rung of society, financial profiling doesn't stop at Superstore. As Jonathan and I were waiting for our train on the platform following our grocery extravaganza this evening, the ticket-checking Translink rent-a-cop showed up. Because the Skytrain operates on a proof of payment system, the Skytrain attendant is supposed to stroll the platform and verify that its occupants have either a transit pass, bus transfer, or train ticket. However, tonight's events unfolded rather differently than expected. There were about 15 of us on the platform, but the attendant was only interested in checking the ticket of one man, a blatantly homeless man with dirty ripped sweats, unwashed hair, mismatched clothing, a broken backpack, and a plastic bag overflowing with street paraphernalia (blankets, an old hat, recycling containers to be returned for a penny's profit).

The Skytrain attendant demanded to see his proof of payment, which drove the irritated, half-incoherent and softly swearing homeless man to frantically throw his bags to the floor and desperately fish in his pocket for odd change. Upon finding some, he disappeared from the platform in order to purchase a ticket from the lower level before the attendant could write him a fine. All this while the Skytrain attendant remained on the platform yelling "that's a $170 fine, you know". The homeless man didn't come back for a few minutes. His tattered bags were strewn on the platform. The Skytrain attendant just stood there smirking. He was entirely unconcerned with Jonathan and I and he never asked to see our tickets, or the tickets of the 13 other people standing there. After all, we weren't homeless so we had obviously paid our fare. Eventually, the homeless man returned with a ticket, swearing that the machine had ripped him off. The train came, and we all got on.

If I had had the guts, I would have challenged the attendant right then by asking "What about us? Are you going to ask for our tickets or do you only check people who look poor or homeless?". I didn't, which is probably a wise thing. The homeless man looked unstable, and my piping up might have caused a stir amongst others. After all, the passengers around me looked none too sympathetic for the homeless man, and were bound to side with the rent-a-cop anyway. Nobody likes having homeless people around and I'm sure all the other passengers would have rather that the homeless man get fined and prevented from getting on the train, so that they wouldn't have to smell him on their Skytrain journey ride home.

On a less depressing note, Valentine's Day was fun. Jonathan and I made dinner together - for dessert, I made artery-clogging profiteroles, and Jonathan concocted the most amazing mango and goat's cheese appetizer (seen below), with Jambon au madere for our main course. All was accompanied with good wine (fruit juice for me), romantic music, and expensive Swiss chocolate. Simply delectable!

In (random) closing, allow me to quote from Jonathan's desk calendar:

"I think if you know what you believe, it makes it a lot easier to answer questions. I can't answer your question." (In response to a question about whether he wished he could take back any of his answers in the first debate, Oct 4, 2000) - George W. Bush



Anonymous neilesh said...


Its one thing if you own a rolex store - but does saving 50cents on mass produced preservative based Chunky Soup really justify pissing off a huge part of your customer base?

Honestly, if I had my laptop in my backpack, I can't see me responding with anything other than "when you start taking away ladies purses, give me a shout, I'll be in aisle 3 getting some fish sticks."

11:53 PM  
Blogger Julien said...

So did the Emeril-inspired entree preparation come before or after the wedding? What kind of students are you? For shame.


5:37 PM  
Anonymous Isaac said...

Sima, we all know you're a kleptomaniac. And we also know criminals should have exactly zero rights. So there.

5:52 PM  
Anonymous peejay said...

I copied and pasted your rant and sent it to Superstore and rent-a-cop (with your names, address, and Superstore card numbers). That way, we can Stand Up for Canada.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Touly said...

If anyone dares confiscate my bag, I will not shop there. It's damn insulting.

7:52 PM  

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