So here we are…again.
A black man has been killed by a white cop. The video evidence seems damning and what seems to be a cop of the worst kind has been charged with murder. While as a rule we need to be wary of rushing to judgement based on a single video, it’s hard to image any extenuating circumstances in this case. Three more officers who apparently did nothing to stop it should face equally serious charges as well. Unjustified killing, plain & simple, regardless of what the victim may have done to warrant police attention in the first place.
Meanwhile, sections of a major American city were predictably torched, stores looted, vehicles destroyed, a police station burned, and countless residents and business owners, along with the city’s fire and EMS personnel put in potentially deadly situations as a result of the mob’s actions. Just as predictably, video showed looters - masked not because of COVID-19, but to hide their faces from security cameras - gleefully exiting stores with whatever they could carry, ostensibly in the name of some sense of justice or revenge, but more likely opportunism and greed.
There’s no way to justify what now former police officer Derek Chauvin did to George Floyd. None. When someone entrusted with the sacred duty of a cop betrays that trust, it does nothing less than kill off a piece of America. Legitimate law enforcement - along with free and verifiably honest elections - are among the most crucial lynchpins to the continued survival of our republic. I admittedly took those for granted growing up in suburbia, but I no longer do. Undermine those and we truly are on the verge of descending into an abyss from which we are unlikely to escape intact.
However, there’s also no legitimate way to justify the burning and pillaging of Minneapolis in the process. It does nothing but cheapen and sully the legitimate concerns of many citizens there, black or otherwise. It also inarguably subjects so many people to life-threatening danger and other lasting hardships. What good purpose does that ultimately accomplish? None whatsoever.
Law enforcement: We desperately need you to purge your ranks of prejudice and dishonesty wherever you may find it. Turning a blind eye or a deaf ear makes you an equally guilty accomplice. Out of necessity, you’re held to a higher standard. We all need your courage...your honesty...and your compassion. Desperately.
Community leaders: We need your leadership. Fight however you are able to restrain the rioting and violence that serves no one but those who look for an opportunity to stoop to it. Even a man’s tragic murder doesn’t justify more evil.
Let’s be crystal clear: Racism is a sin without moral justification. Anyone who espouses it from a shell of Christianity is a deluded liar.
I pray for calm, reason and reform. I pray for justice...for all.
Things being what they are, the demand for my professional services hasn’t exactly been overwhelming in recent months, as opposed to our bills, which continue to be impressively overwhelming.
With that in mind, I took a part-time “essential services” job as a cashier with a local grocery store.
After decades on the consumer side, this is my first foray to the other side of the conveyor belt, and it’s been an eye-opener in many ways.
To wit: I offer up this bagful (“Is plastic OK?”) of random retail ramblings accumulated over the past month:
* First off, grocery cashier is a stressful job, mentally and physically demanding in ways you might not have imagined unless you’ve done it. First off, just standing in place that long (six hours with one 20-minute break in the middle, for example) is taxing by itself, particularly if you’re not a high school kid as many of my fellow cashiers seem to be. Meanwhile, you’re getting a steady and often non-ergonomic upper-body workout, grabbing, scanning, bagging and hefting…over and over and over through a seemingly infinite ribbon of groceries. (Pro tip: If you’re one of those mega-buyers of pop or other heavy items, please, oh please leave ‘em in the cart and let me scan them there. Saves everyone time and defers my hip and shoulder replacements a little while longer. And a special place in heaven is reserved for those kind souls who make sure the UPCs aren’t buried.) Then there’s the mental stress. While most customers are actually pretty nice, some…aren’t so nice. (I know standing in this line probably isn’t your favorite part of the day. It’s not mine, either.) Beyond that, getting you checked out fast and without crushing your eggs or bread requires a constant series of near-instantaneous packing decisions. As your order starts flowing toward me, I’ve already, out of necessity, paired up at least two bags worth of stuff in my mind. And the mind-numbing hits just keep on a-comin’, hour after hour. So to summarize, just sayin’: Please have a heart, we’re doing our minimum wage best for you and it’s not as easy as we may sometimes make it look.
* Doing all of the above while breathing through my mask for six hours just makes it that much more fun. Trying to understand what you’re telling me through your mask amid the din of grocery store background noise makes it even funner!
* Ya’all are eating and drinking WAY too much junk. Seriously. Quarantine or not: Just because you can get a deal if you buy a half-dozen six-packs of pop doesn’t mean you should. There are some good healthy eaters out there, for sure, but the majority seem to be sucking down pop, beer, chips and other crap at an alarming rate. I’m in no way claiming sainthood there, but yikes!
* Paper bags inside plastic bags is a match made somewhere other than heaven. I get that you want maximum structural integrity, but paper grocery bags fit inside plastic bags like Jackie Gleason putting on Cher’s pants. Average age of shoppers requesting this awkward combo: 72.
* Please use the order dividers. I’m busy enough without having to try to divine where your order ends and the next one begins.
* I’ve had an affinity for coins ever since I got into collecting them as a youngster. That said, dealing with change in general - and pennies in particular - is a cashier PITA. Much as anything, it’s the inevitably awkward handoff. Any change permutation ending in “4” or “9” pretty much blows.
*Oddity: Complete strangers addressing me by my first name, by virtue of the name tag I forget I'm wearing. Still catches me by surprise. I just want to respond, "Hey Bob! How's it goin'?"
“That is all. Thank you for visiting Register 13, and have a great day!”