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Sunday morning is when our Ad Change happens. All of the crap that was on sale last week is no longer on sale, and I spend most of my morning putting up new little stickers on everything. Bleary-eyed and hours before dawn, I schlep up and down the grocery aisles and look for tiny little expiration dates printed in about 2 point font on each and every one of the quarter-million items in my store.

The good part of Sunday is that the Store is mostly deserted. There are employees milling around, changing displays, unloading trucks, stocking shelves. But very few customers. There are usually only two types of people who shopping in the Store that early in the morning; Idiots and Thieves.

The Idiots are those people who forgot that they don’t have any more diapers for their baby, and furthermore, that Pampers do not clean themselves out and are not reusable. The Idiots are those people who have stayed out all night causing trouble and driving under the influence, and decide that it would be really fun to go to the grocery store and stumble around, knocking over displays, while looking for Twinkies. The Idiots are annoying, bumbling miscreants, but at least they probably mean no harm.

The Thieves, on the other hand, are those assholes who get out of bed in the morning, with the sole intention of ripping you off. They are not in the Store to shop… they are in the Store to steal things from us, either by running out the door with it, or – my personal favourite – walking up and down the aisles behind me, waiting for me to miss one of the myriad expiration dates on these tiny little tags, just so they can run up front and get it free. They skulk up and down the aisles, just ahead of me, looking for signs and displays that will be wrong… but only until I get to them. They know they only have about a 20 minute window of time, because I’m right behind them. But I can’t simultaneously change every display that needs to be changed all at once. After all, I’m only one man.

Thieves look for display signs that have been taken down (but not destroyed) by the stock crew, and put them back on the wrong display. Thieves lurk near the Pepsi and Coke vendors, waiting… just waiting… to see if Pepsi builds a display of 12 packs ($2.99) under a huge signboard displaying “99ยข” that use to hang over Coke 2-Liters just minutes before. Thieves slink around displays for special promotions that ended last week, scrutinizing every square inch to see if there are any stray tags left on these products that would cause the item to ring up “wrong”.

I’ve always wanted to go up to one of these assholes and ask them where they work, just so I could follow them around at their job, waiting for them to screw up something so that I could take advantage of it.

Yesterday, I’m going about my business, pulling down expired tags and signs, when I see one of these assholes. I recognise him. He is here every week, looking for something wrong. He is lurking through the back of my store, around a large pallet of Coke 24 packs, stacked high and placed there temporarily while the Coke guy brings the rest of his order out of the back room. He’s going to take these 24 packs to the back, I realise. They were last week’s sale.

“Hey,” said the Thief.

I try to ignore the asshole. It works for a few seconds. Unfortunately, I’m heading his way, squinting every stooped step of the way, looking for tiny little out-of-dates.

“You work here?” asked the Thief again. This time, there was no way I could pretend. I was too close.

“Yeah,” I mutter.

He looks the pallet of pop up and down; a layer of Regular Coke, a two layers of Diet Coke, a layer of Sprite, so on and so forth. “What’s the price on these?”

“I don’t know,” I said, even though I did.

“Well,” started the Asshole, sucking his teeth, obviously deep in thought. “Why don’t you go an’ find out fer me… ‘Cos there ain’t no sign on this display here.”

I looked straight at the Thief. “Well… sir… that’s not a display. The Coke guy is getting ready to take them away.”

And – as if on cue – the Coke man did indeed come out of the back room with a pallet jack. Excusing himself, he said to the Thief, “let me get these out of your way.” He then promptly hoisted the pallet of product to the back, safely behind the doors marked “employees only”. The Thief looked as if he had missed a great opportunity. And, in a way, he had. I smiled, energized all of a sudden. This asshole wasn’t going to get one damn thing free this morning. I smiled, content with my little victory.

The big victories are hard to come by anymore.

I really like the Harry Potter books and movies. They are well-written, well-directed, well-developed stories and adaptations of said stories. They have also become very popular. As such, there have been several people who will make a living off the hard work of someone else. That being said, I want you all to watch this from Google Video.

Now… I try to not be a mean-spirited person. I make very real attempts in my life to never disparage a fellow human being. I always try to follow the Golden Rule.

But someone has to tell Tim Beasley to stop. He’s just… bad.

The description on his website (and on the video sidebar) reads, in part, “Compare this Professor Snape impersonation creation with the movie character and you’ll see both have Snape’s wicked crooked nose, sharp piercing gaze, skull-boned cheeks and sallow complexion…” and then my favourite part: “[his] voice is every bit the same low octave attention getter with a proper British bite…

Huh!? Did you watch the same movie I just did? Did Tim Beasley watch the same movie I just did? I didn’t pick up any resemblance of a British Accent. I did, however, hear Tim refer to the Hogwarts groundskeeper as “Hagrith”.

That also brings me to my favourite part of the movie:

Tim: “Woah, Hagrith! You know who I’m talkin’ about? The big guy? He can eat a whole tub of popcorn all by himself.”

Big deal. So can I. So can most people.

Maybe I am just being mean here. Tim Beasley is probably a very nice man. A very nice man with a lot of costumes. Who likes to dress up. And found a way to make money with it.

So… good for him. Really.

Go and find some keepsake that you are really fond of and hold dear, and destroy it. Make a new enemy today. Go out and do something the Government fears. Adopt a puppy. Watch children at play and annihilate their dreams. Write a song. Read a book and ruin the ending for your friend. Yell at a stranger. Run over a pothole with your car and then go back and do it again. Tie yourself to a pole and scream for help. Chew a whole pack of gum at one time. Buy a magazine aimed towards the opposite sex, rip out all the pages and staple gun them to your walls. Make a list of your fears, and face them. Stop your car in an intersection and wash your window. Get thrown out of a bar. Buy a homeless man some lunch. Put your CDs in an order that only you can understand. Write a letter to someone you don’t know. Go to a store and pretend to shoplift. Then really do it once they think you are playing around. Catch people off guard. Ruin a perfectly good shirt. Take a walk in the park and chase small dogs. Tell a child you’d like to play catch with them, then run away with the ball. Walk into traffic and dance. Sing on top of a monument. Be a clown starved for attention.

Don’t ever tell me there is nothing to do.

So there I was, for the first time in 16 damn years, sitting in the chair, restless and weary, waiting on the barber standing across from me to finish up with the Young Boy. He was screaming, after all, and all the other patrons of the barber shop would keep looking at one another and sort of smiling at each other, saying things that people say, like “well, he’s certainly angry, isn’t he?” and “boy, what a set of lungs on that boy!” when what they really wanted to do was to grab this kid by the shoulders, get right in his screaming, snot-smeared little boy face and yell at the top of their lungs, “SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU LITTLE ASSHOLE!” You could you just see it on their faces. These are the things that go through people’s minds when they are in public. There is this force called a Society that, while constantly being blamed as a cause for why young people go insane and kill other people, also has the audacity to make people hold back their true feelings and not kill each other of stupid things like a screaming 2 year old getting a haircut.

So yeah, I hadn’t been to the barber in several years. I took to cutting my own hair when I realised that all I ever got was a crew cut and why should I pay some asshole $9 every couple of weeks of my life to give me a crew cut when I could buy an electric razor and do the thing my damn self for a one-time outlay of $15. And that’s what I did. And that worked out fine until I let my hair grow out too much. Yeah, I got lazy. Sue me. I’ve been losing it up top for several years, and just let the back and sides grow. Just to prove that I could still, in fact, grow hair in some places on my head. I tried my clippers. They jammed up. I had too much hair. It would have to be shorn down with scissors first, and then the blade. And that, I could not do myself. I would need to seek the help of a professional. One of Those Guys. The Barbers.

There was one of the barbers who I recognized before my days as one of the great un-cut. He was still there, still wearing the same blue shirt, still sporting the same old moustach and same old blank, smirky stare that told me he never thought he’d have been here this long, either. The old barber who was usually next to him was gone – dead, I was told – and was replaced by a younger woman with red hair parted in the middle. She seemed oddly out of place in this barber shop. Like she belonged at a beauty parlor, but couldn’t quite pass all the tests. Perhaps she set someone’s hair ablaze, and subsequently walked out on her dream of working with hair dyes, gels, pastes, and walked into a low-rent barber shop on the poor side of town. She was fast, and did a good job, but you could tell by her eyes; she was dead inside. On the other side of the shop was the new kid. He looked like he just got his licence a few hours ago, and was scared to death of actually cutting hair, which would be a tough way to play barber. I sat in that shop, quietly, politely – like a good member of Society – and watched as others came and went. Two or three other haircuts apiece for the two other barbers, while this kid stood there, nipping at individual hairs for and hour with his guy. He asked for a 2 guard on the top and a 1 guard on the sides and back. Basically, he wanted an Army haircut. And this kid was going at it one by one. I would periodically look over to check his progress. At 30 minutes in, the customer looked exactly like he did when I walked in the door. I made a mental note to not get in this guy’s chair. I didn’t have that kind of time.

The child lets out a murderous scream. The other patrons look at each other, on the outside showing smiles and rainbows, and on the inside feeling daggers and napalm. He’s a young boy, and his brother is in the chair next to him, being held upright by the father. The brother is getting his first ever haircut. I’m not for certain, but this is what it seems like to me. The parents are Mexican. The kids are probably Americans by birth. The kids don’t talk much between screams, and the parents don’t speak any English. But you can always tell the look on a father’s face the first time his son gets a haircut. And the father had that look. The older kid is done now, and gets a lollipop. The mother takes him from the barber’s chair and plops him down in the seat next to me. He looks at me and holds his lollipop up to his nose, smelling it.

“See? That wasn’t so bad, now was it?” I say, pointing to my own hair. The kid doesn’t understand, and offers me his lollipop. “Your haircut looks good, pal,” I rubbed his head. “Muy Bueno.” At this, the kid’s eyes perked up and he looked straight at me. He says something to me. I don’t know what it was, because he is 2 years old and talking in a language that I don’t speak. It was my turn in the chair, finally. I got up, walked to the empty barber’s chair, and sat down. The cloth was draped over my shoulders and torso, and the barber got to work. The child continued to look at me, and tried to say something for the next minute or so. I smiled back.

“Haven’t seen you in here for a while, have we?” asked the barber.

“Nope. I’ve been cheating on you,” I said, beating him to the punchline of his own joke.

“What’ll it be today then?” he laughed.

I looked at the little boy again. He was still looking at me and muttering. He pointed to his hair, and then to his lollipop, and laughed. I think I understood that. Maybe this won’t be so bad, after all.

“Just make it shorter,” I said.

I removed my glasses. The little boy and the rest of the barber shop disappeared into a blandly-colored blur. I sat quietly, looking at what could have been the little boy, and thinking of what flavor lolly I would choose.