Sunday, May 25, 2008

Simple Thinking Individuals with a little power are a dangerous thing

Now that I have my trike back from having its rear axle replaced. I've gone back to getting my groceries with it instead of driving. Yesterday (Saturday) I decided to give the trike post repair shakedown ride to Kroger's which is a local grocery store chain here in Houston. By great fortune one happens to be less than 2 miles away just on the outskirts of my neighborhood. Because I planned to get a couple steaks I went ahead and brought a cooler full of ice with me.

Typically, when I go to Kroger's I remove everything of value or temptation from the trike this would include the cyclocomputer, rear blinkie, and cooler (if I'm carrying it). Everything small gets thrown in the pocket of my cycling jersey and the cooler gets thrown in a cart and I walk around with it. Today I walked in as I always do, but this time the security guard accosted me as if I were going to shoplift and told me I could not bring my cooler with me inside the store. I complied and left it at her feet; however, the more I thought about it the more I got angry because I was singled out for being different. Following the security guard's line of thinking if I couldn't bring a cooler in with me for being a shoplifting risk then every woman in the place should not be able to bring a purse in either. Adding to the absurdity of the situation (if you can picture the scene) is it was quite obvious that I was on a bicycle as I still had my helmet, cycling gloves, and a gold colored performance cycling jersey on. I stood out like a sore thumb .

The stupidity of the whole thing is if I had really intended to go shoplifting I would not have gone on a human powered conveyance (either bicycle or trike) and I would've dressed to blend in not gone running around with a bright yellow shirt and a helmet on and I would not have brought a 24 can cooler in with me.

Ordinarily I wouldn't think of this as a big deal; however, this time it upset me for two reasons. The rent-a-cop was an African-American female and as such I would've expected for her to be a little more sympathetic to those who look and are different. Additionally, I would've expected for someone working security to understand simple policing and know that someone who is a stand out in their appearance and under the watchful eye of everyone is more than likely not a security threat. However, give someone a little power when they're not deserving of it and we get situations like this. This guard could not think outside the box or get past what I looked like and what I was carrying and chose to single me out even though if I were a shoplifter I would've been anybody but who I was.

Consequently, on my return pass to pick up my cooler I fairly snapped at her and to add to all the irony I still set off the shoplift alarm. Quite absentmindedly I forgot to pass my steaks over the alarm the deactivator on the automated checkout line. She came over and gave me attitude; however, I pointed out to her that when one is offended and not thinking you're not inclined to remember many steps like swiping the damn de-activator. This shut her up and she walked away. I then proceeded to go load my trike and go home. I really rather regret not calling the manager of the store over and lodging a formal complaint for being singled out for being different.

This by the way is a typical grocery load for the trike. On this load I was using the smaller igloo/ playmate "lunchbox" cooler whereas yesterday I was using my Coleman 24 cooler which pretty much fills the trike basket.

1 comment:

Noah said...

Security is a mindset, not a job. As such, you'd be astounded at the infinitesimal minority of us in any sort of security occupation who actually "get it". Although I'm employed in the industry of information security, it applies equally to physical security whether you're talking about casino surveillance operators, police officers, NSA agents or rent-a-cops.

You should still call the manager and complain.

I refuse to buy "green" bags at the grocery store, as they're often made from synthetic oil-based products and always made in China, shipped here on some huge, oil-chugging cargo ship. Even as one who's not terribly keen on being all eco-friendly, I can only stand so many of those crazy plastic grocery sacks around my place. I take my backpack and duffel bag to the store with me to load up. If ever accused, it would be as simple as letting them see nothing was hiding inside them.

If there is a next time, tell the lady to get the store manager.