On the GO Train this morning and it’s about eight minutes from Union Station. The train, miraculously, was on time. The ride, although taken standing, is smooth and without incident. Then the GO-busters start checking fare.
Normally I brush off this routine as a small nuisance because I buy a monthly pass. But as soon as I reach for my wallet, I realize that April is in the books, and its May 1. So, my April 2006 Student Monthly Pass is past its expiry.
When I'm asked to show my fare, I don't pull any cheap tricks, like a quick flash of a Pass with the hope of fooling the GO Guard. No, I respect her enough to know she wouldn't be fooled.
"Sorry, I completely forgot. It's expired." I show her my April Student Monthly Pass along with my also expired Student Identification Card. "They're both expired, actually," I add. Rememeber: honesty doesn't count in these situations.
"Why did you forget?" she asks like I'm her son, and I've disappointed her so.
"Just totally slipped my mind. I'm sorry."
"You know you have a week...you have 10 days to buy a new pass. They allow you 10 days to buy a new pass. Why did you forget?"
"I forgot. I'm going to buy a new monthly pass. A regular one. My student discount is up."
She looks at my Student Identification Card. "You know this is expired?"
"Yes, I know."
"You know both of these are expired?"
"Both of these have to be valid otherwise you could be fined. You know that?"
"Did you know that you could be fined $110?"
"Yes, I know."
"When do you plan to buy a new pass?"
"As soon as I get to Union."
"Why did you forget to buy a new pass?"
"I don't know. This never happens. I'm sorry."
"Look, you bought this one after you got on the train last month...Wait, sorry. You bought it before."
"I want to meet you in front of Customer Service at Union. Bring your new pass."
Get to Union. Stand in line. Buy May 2006 Adult Monthly Pass. Pay $121 for inadequate monthly service. Show new Pass. Get pass to go. Fuck you, GO.
The Great Canadian News
I'm on my way back to Union seven hours after being treated like the great con artist I actually am and I step into The Great Canadian News at BCE Place. I think that's its name; I really don't care if it isn't. This particular Great Canadian News is a place I've spent a considerable amount of money in the past three years. I've bought many magazines and newspapers. Remember: having a history of spending money in a store doesn't mean you're not about to steal.
I walk in wearing my signature black clothing. I'm Bad News, see. I take a look at a couple of magazines; I don't flip through them, but I do consider whether to buy them today or later this week. I move around the store, not touching any of the magazines, just looking at their covers. I look at the cover of the new Maclean's, and over my iPod I hear: "Excuse me sir, do you need any help?"
Hmm, do I need any help? Let's think here: I'm looking at magazines; I'm wearing black; I'm not 30 or higher, therefore, I probably don't actually read; the employee asks as if he's speaking to someone who fits the profile of a thief. And the fact that this store employee (I presume he's the manager) has asked me this question about six or seven times in the last three months is not lost on me.
I turn to him, "No. I'm fine." I shake my head in (actual) disgust (hey, I've spent money when he's been on duty, which is unlike 90 per cent of the people who filter their way through the store and never buy a thing), and leave.
At this point, it might be smart to put down in this blog that I will never spend another cent in that store. That the pattern of undeserved harassment I experience at this store is reason enough not to even walk through the store's doors anymore. But, no. If I stop walking through that store, then this employee’s blood pressure won't rise as much throughout his shift because a potential thief doesn't frequent his store anymore. He lives a little longer because of this. He wins. But, if my presence is enough to worry him--enough for him to have to keep an eye on me to make sure I don't steal something with a $4.95 cover price, then it's worth it for me to continue to go to the store, to browse, to walk around, to piss him off. And next time he asks his familiar question, I won't just say I'm fine, I'll ask him something to: "Hey, do you think I'm going to steal something?" And I hope that question will raise his blood pressure some more.
Links: Stephen Colbert
60 Minutes covered Colbert this week. Here's a link.