Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tales from Times Square: You should really get a life

The following is just one example of a conversation I have had dozens of times while on the job...

"You should really get a you hear me? Take that sign down." She was maybe 16 and standing with perhaps a couple of sisters or friends and her mother, as I walked past to meet friends.

"Actually, this is my job."

"Well then you should get a real job." Her mother decided to chime in. It is amazing the anger that comes out at a stranger just walking down the street with a sign on his back reading "OBAMA CONDOMS." People have some kind of pent up anger at the world...What is amazing is that many of the people who are the most, ahem, critical of my work are usually the conservative, moral, religious type. Correct me if I am wrong, but didn't Jesus say in a fairly famous scene from the bible, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?"

I defended myself, as I always do..."Ma'am. This is a real job, in fact, I probably make more money than you do...and what kind of job would you suggest? least I'm not selling drugs."

This, by my own admittance, only stepped up the energy in the exchange, as she responded, "No you don' do you know that?"

"I just made one-hundred and fifty dollars in the last hour." Aaaand check. First round to me. Round Two...

"Well you should get a degree." I love the assumption that anyone can just get a degree if they choose to. Clearly this woman lives in her own suburban reality, with no comprehension of socio-economics. I would love to see her take the A-train up to Harlem and tell the folks there to get a real job, or to get their degree...I'm sure she would get a nice ear full...Surely they could help her understand that not everyone has the financial means to attain their degree...

Little did this woman know though, her last retort set me up perfectly for the knock-out punch, "I have my degree already ma'am."

"Oh yeah, where is it from?"

"U. C. IRVINE." I made sure to say it nice and slow so it really sunk in.

Now, as if I were making this up, she tests me with the ultimate question, "Ok, so what's your degree in?"

"Theatre." I smiled, turned around and walked towards the lottery for Hair, where I was meeting some friends. As I looked away I could see her a little dumb-founded, and mumbling something, as people often do when they want to respond, but realize that they have already lost the argument...

As I like to tell people, I have already played by the rules of society. I grew up doing my homework, playing soccer and preparing for the future like every good upper-middle class white kid. I graduated High School a well-rounded young man with good grades, pushing the boundaries a bit, but never to the point of harming anyone. I went to college, a UC, and got my degree...I've done everything just as society has asked...and now, I will play by my rules...

1 comment:

Ali said...

Nicely stated Mitch.

PS - I read your blog.