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In Which I Am Old Enough To Smoke And Corporations Trump Government

May 18th, 2012 No comments

Me: I’d like a pack of Marlboros, please
Cashier: Sure. Do you have any ID?
Me: I have plenty of ID.
Cashier: May I see it?
Me: No.

I will turn 50 soon and though I’ve been told I look younger (“43 at most”), I most certainly don’t look like I’m 18. Or even 28. In Massachusetts, the law says ID must be provided if the consumer appears to be under 27.  But, apparently, corporate rules trump government law so I keep getting carded at CVS.

Big deal, you’re thinking. Just show them your ID and continue sauntering towards your slow , self-inflicted death. This is a big deal, though, on a couple of levels. It’s about common sense, free will and, yes, training people how to subsume both in the service of a corporation. It’s the last part that concerns me.

I do my best to stay away from CVS in general, keeping my purchases to toothpaste and my medication which obviously needs adjusting. When I do buy smokes from there, it’s usually late and every place else is closed. Out of boredom, tiredness or disdain, the cashier pops in some made up date of birth (most likely making me passive-aggressively older than I am), I pay them and, transaction complete, we leave each other alone. This is how it should work.

The daytime is a different matter. During the day, there’s  managers that wants to climb the corporate ladder and so will do everything according to the laws of CVS rather than the state. CVS, I’ve been told, has a card-everyone policy. It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80. If you buy cigarettes, you’re suspect. You are too stupid to know if the elderly woman in the Hoveround with the oxygen mask buying Eve 12os truly fits the age criterion. Seriously. I had a CVS manager tell me that. “Yes, she would be carded.”

The problem with this is that it’s stupid and detrimental to society since CVS’s policy, while arguably egalitarian, serves to separate the community rather than encourage interaction and mindfulness. The cashier is trained, in the best corporate tradition, not to think but to become part of an assemblage of if-then statements. That woman in the wheelchair doesn’t need to be remembered. Once she present ID, the cashier can clear cache and go onto the next transaction. Cashiers are encouraged to be goldfish, reacting to every customer as a brand new customer.That concerns me.

What concerns me more can be illustrated by the following interaction:

Me: I’d like a pack of Marlboro, please
Cashier: Sure. Do you have any ID?
Me: I have plenty of ID.
Cashier: May I see it?
Me: No.
Cashier: I need to see ID to sell you cigarettes.
Me: Ok. I will prove that I’m old enough to buy cigarettes after you prove to me you’re old enough and legally allowed to work here.
Cashier: Um…
Me: Seriously. I don’t know how old you are and if you’re a citizen of the US or have a green card. If we’re going to follow rules, let’s follow rules.
Cashier: I don’t have to prove that, sir.
Me: Neither do I. Massachusetts state law says card under 27. I am obviously over 27.
Cashier: Our corporate policy states….
Me: Corporate policy? Are you actually claiming that my right to buy cigarettes is based on your corporate policy as opposed to the laws of the state we’re in? Really?
Cashier: Um…err….(Picking up the phone) Manager to the front!

Perhaps I’m treading a like between valid concern and paranoia but to allow corporate laws to trump government laws makes me squinchy. When a company regulates the behavior of a citizen bad things happen. You can argue that no one should smoke and these checks act as a deterrent. There’s a shame factor. While I support not smoking in the workplace, is it right and proper to penalize someone for a legal action, such as smoking, by pushing them outside into a snow storm and not provide shelter? I’ve had private security guards tell me that I couldn’t smoke on the street in front of their building because of corporate policy.

That’s kind of scary whether you smoke or not.

 

In Which I Declined Pastor Raymond S. Porter’s Request

May 17th, 2012 No comments

Sooo…three years ago, some guy named Pastor Raymond S. Porter decided to box himself up in a coffin for three days so that…um…God could talk to him. It seems a little extreme to me but what do I know. When I need some time alone I usually go out for a long drive or descend into my basement. But who am I to judge another person’s actions. If he needs to be buried six feet under without food or water then that’s his kink and I’m good with that.

Here’s the thing, though – In order to make as many people as possible know about this, he issued a press release (since removed) on Christian News Wire.

Pastor [Raymond S. Porter] will be put into a casket for three days and three nights, from October 12th at 2:00 pm through October 15th at 9:00 am. Then he will come out and give a message to Mr. Obama from God, that the whole world may hear.

This is about murdering innocent babies. Our society calls it abortion, but I call it what it is murder.

The reason why I am doing this is out of obedience to God. Many Americans think our economy is failing because of the Bush Administration, but they are wrong, it is because of sin.

We are a very sinful nation, therefore God is against us. The only quote I have is from God’s word. 2 Chronicles 7:14 say’s ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land’. We are suppose to be a civilized nation but we are practicing Barbaric behavior called human sacrifice. It is sad that we live in a county were it is perfectly legal to murder an unborn child for convenience, maybe the mother to be says, ‘It’s not the right time, I must further my career’, or a mother may tell her teenage daughter, ‘You must get rid of the baby because you are to young. You must finish school’. It is human sacrifice for one’s own convenience. Senator Barack Obama said if he becomes president that he would intervene in the African countries where genocide is taking place. He will not however, intervene in Roe vs. Wade which is genocide that is taking place here in America everyday disguised as planned parenthood.

Nice!

As a result, the recently deceased Billy Bob Neck did a video about the stunt:

Imagine my surprise when an email from R. S. Porter drifted into my inbox!. Rather than quote it, he asked me to remove the video to “avoid legal action.” Legal action? What do I look like, some pastor from Norfolk, Virginia? I’m supposed to take down a decent piece of comedy because you realized that proclaiming to the world that being buried alive would bring you a sign from God makes you look like a dumb-ass?

I politely declined.

Hm. I’m gonna say no for a few reasons.

1.    The video was posted three years ago. You had plenty of time between then and now to ask for its removal.
2.    The video has been seen by a whopping 686 people. Hardly enough to do any damage to you.
3.    A general Google search for Raymond S. Porter does not even land this video on the front page. And while it’s first if you look at videos, it’s obvious that I am not you.
4.    Oh! Look! There you are on myspace right underneath me! And you’ve just put a song out!  On myspace! You “do not desire to be on youtube “ but you do desire to be on myspace? Interesting distinction.
5.    Lastly, and most importantly, you put out a press release (since removed but documented here) about your burial thing, advertising your stunt put you into the public sphere. Once you are in the public sphere you are fair game. You gave up your “right to privacy” when you put out that press release. You don’t have a legal leg to stand on.

Long story short, you did something stupid that you’d rather people not know about and want to cover your tracks. I understand that. It was your decision to issue the press release. Without that, we wouldn’t be talking. Effectively, you’re asking me to take responsibility for your actions. I won’t do that.

You made your coffin, so lie in it.

Sincerely,

Paul Day
hbeeinc@gmail.com

PS to Pastor Raymond S. Porter: Some things are best left alone. Mistakes like this are forgotten. Calling them back from the dead and expecting good results really only worked for Jesus.