by Nic Olson
Sitting at work. People walk in. Moms looking for shoes for their sons. Girlfriends searching out hoodies for their boyfriends. Raging teenage shoppers therapeutically looking for a top that looks cute. I see the worst of everyone. No one is their best while shopping. And I get to take the worst of everyone, and lump them into groups that I made up myself.
The Bros. Usually can be seen wearing brand name clothing, vibrant and colourful. Often with well done hair, a nice watch, expensive sunglasses, and ridiculously good looking yet daft girlfriend. Like to talk sports, weightlifting, getting licked, slamming ladies. Listens to Nickelback, Black Eyed Peas, Akon.
The Hipsters. Usually can be seen wearing American Apparel, raggedy vintage thrift shop clothes, cheap sunglasses, leather dress shoes with messy hair and unkempt facial hair. Men and women. Like to talk indie rock, dark beer, Vice magazine. Listens to Phoenix, Death Cab, She and Him.
The Couples/Families. Usually can be seen as crazy people. Whether it is a mother talking to her only friend in her three month old daughter, or a girlfriend talking to her boyfriend on a three year long leash, the conversation is often different and unnatural to outsiders. These people are no longer themselves, they are defined by the other person as well. Like to talk ages of children, length of time dating, families. Listens to the screaming of children, arguing, Fred Penner, and whatever couples listen to.
The Rednecks. Usually can be seen wearing cut off jean shorts and old runners. ’80’s band T-shirts, Riders hats, cowboy boots, tucked in shirts. Like to talk horsepower, RPM, shooting things, getting licked. Listens to anything from Toby Keith, Metallica, Brittney Spears.
The others. Not important enough to have their own group, or I just got lazy. Anywhere from the University devotees, punk kids, metalheads, farmers, the religious, the socially aware…
(Don’t bother trying to figure out where you think I would put you in my category system. Chances are, if I know you, you didn’t make any of them. You are a mix of the worst of them all.)
And then I try to label myself, and I can’t do it. Others could probably easily label me, but to do it to myself is impossible. Then I think about it all. Although I truly don’t use a system this senseless and prejudicial, a lot of the time it is how things are broken down. So when people walk into my store wearing full ’80’s workout gear, sweatpant-shorts and sleeveless black cotton shirt, I don’t think anything. This dude is legit, I think. I think about how circumstance changes how a person dresses, acts, talks about, listens to. And how none of it has any weight, as long as they are living and breathing. Everyone fits into someone’s category, but no one has to care, and no one needs to accept the entire category idea.
But in the end my discrimination breaks the entire world into just two categories. People who like condiments on their hotdogs, and people who like them plain. It’s that simple.