Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Knife Bad, Tree Pretty

In my real life I am a retail manager at a big box store. That means that I deal with any number of complaints. Some of these are real, and I handle them as best I can, and some are utterly silly based on misunderstandings or outrage that we won't change our policy "just this once". This last group is particularly challenging since no one at the store actually did anything wrong that I can fix. The reason I bring this up is earlier this week, toward the end of my shift, I was walking the store with my direct supervisor making sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing and I was approached (if you can call being yelled at from thirty feet away approached) by a customer who had a concern in the second category.

This woman was extremely agitated by the fact that there was a man standing near the restrooms that had a knife and she wanted me to DO SOMETHING. I asked if he was causing a disturbance, and she said he had a knife. I asked if he was acting inappropriately toward anyone, and she said he had a knife. I asked how long the blade was and she said she couldn't tell because it was folded up. I clarified that it was a pocket knife, and she said yes. She was even more agitated at this point and wanted me to DO SOMETHING NOW. I again asked if he was bothering anyone and she again told me he had a knife and DO SOMETHING. My manager stepped in to disengage me from the situation and told the woman we would handle it before I said something to get myself in trouble.

So in an area that a number of people from more rural areas shop and do business one of my customers was in a panic because another customer had a closed pocket knife in his hand. Unbelievable. She would probably have fainted outright if she'd seen anyone with a gun on their hip. As someone who grew up in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts I've almost always carried a knife in my pocket. When I was out camping I occasionally carried a Buck style folding knife in a leather holster on my belt, but my favorite was the Victorinox I got for Christmas in tenth grade, and that one went everywhere with me, even to school. I think what bothers me the most about this is the man was just standing there, minding his own business, and someone freaked out because he had a pocket knife in his hand.

She's no doubt been conditioned by recent societal trends that dictate only Bad Men and The Authorities have any sort of weapon in their possession and since he wasn't waving a badge around he must be a Bad Man. No doubt I was supposed to find this man and detain him while the police ran to the store, lights and sirens, and beat the man into submission until he admitted being a terrorist or a murderer or (heaven forbid) even a jay-walker. I didn't even go looking for him, much less call the police. I doubt they would have been interested in any case. I've completely lost where I wanted to go with this, but I'm sure it was high praise of self-reliance and a stinging indictment of those not only unwilling to take care of themselves but who actively oppose anyone else taking care of themselves either.

Oh, and for the love of all that is Good, Right, and Holy, don't freak out over a closed pocket knife.

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