Category Archives: classism

Two Little Words

How many times in a day do you hear the words thank you? Depending on the circumstances, it could be quite often. Most of the time, it’s simply a mere social requirement…a necessary courtesy with limited meaning. You hold open a door…“thank you.” You purchase groceries…“thank you.” You move out of someone’s way…“thank you.”

Over the years, many people have said “thank you” to me, but it’s mostly like that. Just something as much about affirming personal civility and feeling the comfort of an orderly world, as it is about showing appreciation. Not that it’s a bad thing. No…it’s nice to hear some thank you-s even if they are not all that heartfelt. But there was this one time when someone gave me a truly sincere thank you that rose above all the rest.

I was about seventeen at the time, and had gone into the ‘big city’ to meet up with a friend and catch a movie. It was the ‘big city’ because there was a store with an escalator to an entire second floor, and also two, (count them), movie theatres. If I remember right, the movie we went to see was “Every Which Way But Loose” which is a terrible movie by the way, unless you like that sort of thing. It was a warm sunny day, and the line in front of the ticket booth was long. We took our place.

While we waited in line on that calm and peaceful afternoon, something a little unusual happened. An odd man suddenly appeared on the sidewalk up ahead. He seemed troubled as he began pleading to various people in the line-up. I watched as each time he approached somebody, he would be ignored or turned away. I never saw such a thing before. An upset man going down a line of people, pleading, and all of them turning their backs. It was a strange sight.

I didn’t know about the homeless then…this sub-class within our society. Where I was from there were no homeless, and the one guy who did sleep out in the woods had a home. He just didn’t seem to like it very much, and only went back when the weather made him.

And at that time charities had yet to become big business, and the homeless had yet to become media pets, and people had yet to be socialized to politely condescend and patronize instead of just calling them “bums.”

It’s also possible that the man himself may have actually had a home, but just didn’t like it…much like the guy in my village. Who knows? But he was raggedy, and didn’t look like he had much of anything in this world.

So everyone was turning from him as he worked his way down the line, until he finally comes to me. He looks in my face and desperately asks, “Will you talk to me? I’m coming down from a bad trip and it’s bad. I need help.”

Well, I wasn’t naïve. I knew what a “bad trip” was. It was the 70’s. I watched T.V. So he started talking, and I started listening. I didn’t turn away because I could see he wasn’t violent or a pervert. He just needed to talk. He was in pain for the need to talk.

I don’t think I said much of anything at all. I just looked at him and listened, and he mostly talked about how bad his “bad trip” was, and how someone had given him some “bad stuff.”

It wasn’t long, however, before the ticket booth opened and the line started moving. Now as it happens, we Canadians take lines very seriously. The British taught us that. When the line moves, you must move also. So I explained to him, “Sorry, but I have to go now,” and pointed at the line. I was a little worried that he’d be sad, but to my surprise, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. “Thank you,” he said in a way no one had ever thanked me before…or since. “Thank you for talking to me.” That’s when I knew his feet were firmly on the ground again. His bad trip was over. He then calmly turned and walked away.

It was a sunny warm day, and someone had given me the gift of a proper ‘thank you.’ I was feeling really quite good about that when I suddenly noticed a girl from my High School coming back through the line towards me. Sensible-clothes-wearing-educated-parents-good-marks-never-in-trouble-with-the-teachers-didn’t-even-say-a-swear-word-girl. Why would she walk back through a line that was moving forward? Had the British taught her nothing?

So, she comes up to me all icky-giddy-Gladys-Kravitz-like and asks, “What did he say to you?”

“He was coming down from a bad trip and needed to talk. That’s all.”

“And you talked to him?” She spit out the words ‘you’ and ‘him’ like we were both trash to be cast out. She wanted me to feel ashamed for having talked to that man. She wanted to feed upon that shame…exalt herself upon that shame. I’d seen it before in others.

I didn’t reply, but just kept moving in the line. I never did tell her how much she filled me with disgust…this girl who I knew to be a long standing member of the High School Christian Club. What would be the point? I learned early on that when people don’t want to know, they can’t even begin to understand.

The VIP Section

VIP tickets to a high-brow charity event. Could be interesting. So, I went to my closet and threw on something dazzling enough to be inconspicuous.

First thing I learned: VIP’s get special parking spots.

It was a brilliant summer day when we walked into that tent. It was crowded and noisy. A grumpy old lady served us an over-priced hot dog. We jostled for a bench to sit on. Around then, the nice man who had given us the tickets had found us. “This isn’t the VIP section.” So we followed him behind the rope.

Behind the rope was a larger tent elaborately decorated according to that year’s chosen theme. It was obvious a lot of charity money went into those fabulously stunning decorations. They spared no expense. Beyond that were tables, (with umbrellas), and chairs, and wide open space. (I liked the space!) There was a food tent where the food was free, and there were no hotdogs. And the people serving it were very polite. So this was VIP.

As I walked through that section in my dazzling enough to be inconspicuous clothes, I spotted a man looking at me. Okay, that still happens. Later I learned that he was the organizer of the event. The king of the VIP section as it were.

So we found a table…the only table left actually. There were three women already there. A mother, a daughter and (I think) a daughter’s friend. I could see right away they were social climbers who had somehow wrangled tickets…all chock full o’ hope of possibly meeting some rich men, or at the very least have the thrill of being noticed by one. I didn’t say hello. There was no point. I had nothing to offer them. So I did the most merciful thing and without a word turned my chair around to face the entertainment provided. It was merciful because that way they may have thought they were sitting at a table with someone so important that she snubbed them entirely. Those people like that sort of thing.

At some point I noticed the king of the VIP section slowly making his way in our direction. ‘Good God,’ I thought, ‘He’s on the pussy prowl…and with his wife in tow.’ Sure enough he made it over to our table and introduced himself, announcing his intentions to sit and eat with us.

His wife, (I forget her name but I’ll call her Lean Mean Jeannie), I could tell she was mean. I don’t know if that was a part of her nature or she’d become mean from a life of nothing but too much exercise, too little food and too much worrying about her pussy huntin’ husband. She may have even been a second wife…a once piece of hunted pussy that was from the ‘right’ family, so he married her. Now she was just a getting older wife trying to hang on to meaning by focusing on toning her arms.

When I met that king of the VIP lounge I could see that I had scared him off those ideas fairly quickly. I don’t know if it was my broken nose, chilly, (but polite), demeanour or just that strange presence I have about me, but he was too afraid to sit near. Instead, he sat beside the three women who fawned and flicked their hair. This was an important man, and they were delighted. Those women would have been on their knees to that man behind the food tent if he told them to.

Lean Mean Jeannie sat beside me, and I was sure she was thinking this table is not good enough for us. There are better people to sit with. And I’m also sure she was not too happy about her husband talking to those three flicking, fawning harpies.

Luckily, a few tables over, some privileged man who knew the king and his wife called them over to join him.  Maybe he thought our table was not good enough for the king or maybe he wanted to save Lean Mean Jeannie from having to watch her husband flirt with the three social climbers, but regardless, they left. I was relieved, but I think the harpies were heart-broken. Oh well!

One of the features of the event was the presence of a member of ‘royalty.’ (I’ll not mention the country to protect the nice man who gave us the tickets.) I assume it is meant to give an air of importance to such events…spending all that charity money on hiring those kind of people to show up. So anyway, I was introduced to Mr. Royal. From behind my sunglasses, I looked into his eyes, and shook his hand. ZOMBIE! No kidding! There was nothing to this man. Desolate, stark, vacant, void, empty. Later, I thought this is ‘royalty’… simply a long chain of hollow people, ordering up death and destruction, mating with and/or murdering their own kin, dehumanizing the world, cracking open a hard boiled egg every morning. They are the walking dead. I politely smiled, then turned away.

Later I noticed Mr. Royal’s son running around. He was spoiled, (that was obvious), but lots of children are. What was so disturbing was his butler-nanny. To see a full grown man subservient to a small boy was so incredibly perverse…so unnatural! Then to add to the perversity, I saw this creepy butler-nanny trying to encourage this boy of about 8 or 9 to flirt with full grown women. Was this part of the duty of a butler-nanny? Royalty ewww!

So if you ever wondered what goes on in the VIP section, now you know. For me, it was an experience like any other, but if I was to say one nice thing about it, the open space was very nice.