21 Sep 2009

I'm not prejudiced, some of my best friends are burglars

I get all sorts of customers at my little kiosk. It's a great place if you're as intrigued by people as I am. The tableaux that I see daily makes me think of Breughel, or Bosch's crowd paintings - it is all that urgent, grotesque, vivid life. It's a parade of our species in every shape and form.

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New Plymouth on a Sunday afternoon. Not pictured : sanity

Often I've thought about blogging on the people I meet at work. However I don't think that's really appropriate, eh. Suffice to say most customers I deal with are at least polite. But sometimes you get the ones who kinda make you despair for humanity.

Today, for example, I had a case that I could only shake off by telling the world about - even though I had resolved (vainly, it seems) not to let it bother me. Maybe it's just the toxic, knock-on effect of reading the Sunday papers; they never fail to aggravate me in some way.

I knew she was trouble the minute she walked in. She represented a species of creature I have come to fear and loathe - the middle-class, middle-aged, blinged-out, over-styled, Pakeha suburban trout. (May Apollo send them all an irritating skin aliment). Because a lot of my job involves fixing shoes, I have to confront with these leathery, draconian horrors on a daily basis.

She had lost her housekey that morning, and had locked herself out of her home. Dreadfully upsetting business. I got the whole story (as I usually do, which I don't mind really). She mentioned that, fortunately, a fellow church group member was able to get her into the house. That was the specific term she used; I don't know why she said it like that but she did.

Anyhoo, she now desired a copy of said housekey in order to prevent a repeat of this inconvenience. It was a nice easy KS1-type blank; a simple sixty-second job (thankfully). When I gave her the copy she asked me - based on what had happened that morning - if it was possible for a person, with a key that had a similar profile to hers, to unlock her door.

One does get this question a lot. But I note to people that, if you have a 'mortice' key (the real old-school, flat, heavy kind, which only have about 20 variants) then is hypothetically possible. However, our prospective burglar would first have to know what kind of lock they were dealing with, and then have those 20-odd variants all to hand, trying each one by one. So yeah, you'd be better off just going through the window or something. And with the more common modern keys - with their 1000-odd variants - then the chance is virtually nil.

Nonetheless, this woman - beginning a church-going, suburban drone, and hence a fearful sort - seemed perturbed by the (incredibly remote) possibility that someone could open her door with their key. She said to me - in a voice that was really more disapproving than concerned:

"You mean to say some Maori fella could come around and unlock my front door whenever he liked?"

I was already primed to hate this woman, so perhaps I wasn't really shocked, more like cynically confirmed in my beliefs. Something nasty, yet not offensive, had to be said. At the very least, I have summarily dispatched many a moron in my time. My exact words were:

"I'm sure any burglar, regardless of their ethnicity, would be unable to do so."

Furthermore, I added something about how it was "us locksmiths" she had to look out for, and since we "prided ourselves on our honesty", things would be alright. At which point she thanked me and pissed off.

Seriously, WTF? What did she expect me to say? She was clearly surprised at the - shall we say - coldness of my reply. I hope I made her feel ashamed about it, but I suspect shame is an unknown factor in the life of someone like that. It was bad enough that I'd spent the day trying to digest all the hate and bigotry in the Sunday rags, without having to have an avatar of that hate appear before me.

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(Don't you friggin' tell me that the customer is always right. Unless, that is, she's cute - which is kinda my motto anyway).

But life isn't all bad. Some very nice folks come through, and they're damn good to me. Guess I just had to face my Gorgon.

And on this bright side, remember how my last blog gushed about the new Moon Knight comic? I got a copy the first second I could and ggwwarargrgghhh!. It contains even more awesomeness than I had hoped for. Because I like to keep this about the comics, here's my two favorite pages from this issue.

The beautiful Marlene (think a French, blond, version of Lara Croft) last saw her psycho ex the love of her life - our Moony - about a year ago, when she helped him kill off his Marc Spector personality and flee to Mexico. So twelve months pass, and she's having a boring luncheon with some boring friend. Outside, some cape is taking down bank robbers - big deal you'd think, happens every twenty minutes in NYC. But then Marlene suddenly realizes that "hey-ya, my boyfriend's back..."

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(It is only natural, of course, that the coolest superhero ever should have the coolest better half ever).

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