For lack of a better, more affordable option, we went to the mall on Monday to find a place that sells tungsten carbide bands in sizes we could wear (neither of has an especially popular ring size). We chose the material because it’s not incredibly rare (like platinum) and, hence, incredibly expensive. It’s also super strong and has a lifetime warranty, so if, for some reason, one of us managed to scratch it, we could get a new one, no questions asked. Both white gold and sterling silver have not worked for us because we’re both really hard on our rings. The ones we wear now are banged up, plus they curve down on the outside, which bites into our fingers and hands and has given us both callouses.
Platinum isn’t as soft as I thought it was, but it is easy to scratch. It also causes skin allergies and respiratory problems in some people. I was under the impression that it was long-lasting, which is why it cost so much. A woman at a jewelry store told me once that you could take all the platinum in the world and fit into an area the size of someone’s living room. No offense to any of you who wear platinum, but what the hell’s the point? You can’t keep it clean or clear of scratches, and it’ll be impossible to affordably replace . . . So I guess, like diamonds, it’s just a status symbol. Other than the whole bit about diamonds not actually being rare, just intentionally kept off the market to drive up prices.
Okay, I just went off track a bit. The story I was going to tell you about was what happened after we ordered the rings and walked down for the requisite soft pretzel. I was sitting down in front of the fountain into which every man, woman and child passing tosses spare coins for no apparent reason, and I noticed an older gentleman being teased by a couple of younger kids. All three people appeared to work for the mall; the older man was cleaning out the garbage cans and had a cart of cleaning supplies, and the two boys seemed as if they did maintenance.
The more I overheard their conversation the more uncomfortable I became. A few hundred feet away, Charlie was at a kiosk and saw more. One of the young guys, we’ll call him Douchebag, was pulling the older man’s cart away as if he was going to take off with it. The other guy, we’ll call him Asshole, shouted “Hey, man! Someone stole your cart!” And the older man looked really worried and tried to go for it. I didn’t hear all of this, Charlie did, but I saw it and noticed them trying to take the man’s hat off, cackle, call him something, and walk past me. Douchebag poked Asshole and they both laughed and made “Duh, duh!” sounds at each other.
In other words, the gentleman was mentally challenged in some way and Douche/A-hole found it amusing to make fun of him and worry him that he wasn’t doing his job. I was right near the big information center and considered walking up to it and pointing them out. I just can’t imagine how two 20-somethings in this day and age can work in an environment where they come in to day-to-day contact with a person living with a disability and choose to treat him so disrespectfully.
When I was in high school, there were a few kids in remedial classes that everyone called “L.D.” which I think was short for “learning disabled.” One girl was in a few average courses and was struggling with losing her physical capabilities due to cerebral palsy. I guess when she was younger she could walk, then used crutches, then a walker, and eventually, by the time I went to school there, she was in a motorized wheelchair. She was a perfectly nice young girl and didn’t seem to me to be mentally challenged in any way, but they still stuck her in the “L.D.” classes. She was also easily startled by loud noises and some young, upstanding, classy boys thought it was hilarious to follow behind her wheelchair and “accidentally” drop their books on the floor. It always gave her an incredible start, which offered them endless amusement.
I had never had any contact with people living with disabilities up to that point (that I really knew of), but I was disgusted to the point of nausea whenever I witnessed these boys entertaining themselves by upsetting her. Any normal, feeling human being should have had the same reaction. But these are the same young men who knocked my own books out of my hands in the hallways, or pushed me into lockers, or stepped on the back of my shoes when I walked because I “talked funny” or “dressed weird.”
When we moved to Indiana, I dressed the way every other kid I knew did: Chuck Taylor black-and-white AllStars, combined with tights under cut-off Army shorts, and t-shirts displaying our personal opinions about the Supreme Court, Republicans, or the Cure.
I ended up writing an email to the company that owns the mall I went to, and to the manager of that property. I got an almost-immediate response. Luckily, I used my powers of articulation to not sound like a cranky old biddy who was complaining about a couple of young, up-to-no-good whippersnappers and the manager said he knew who I was talking about and would speak to their supervisor first thing in the morning.
I don’t know what my ultimate goal was. I’ve never been good with Official Complaints. I can bitch anywhere, anytime, in almost any medium, but voicing my concerns to someone who’s expected to “do something” about it always makes me nervous. I don’t want them to think I’m trying to get these boys fired.
Or am I?