Comments on life, the universe and everything from an aging Sixties survivor.

Location: Massachusetts, United States

Ummm, isn't "about me" part of the point of the blog?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Kinda depends, don't it?

Two items from last week scratched against each other and eventually drew sparks, so here I am...on the slow coach as usual.

A week ago Monday I was at North Shore Mall while my car was in the shop. I chose the mall because its ennui was at least more varied than that of the Chambers dealership. They haven't jumped on the bandwagon that offers TV movies and all you can eat whilst the busy mechanics dismantle whatever.

I wasn't into my first perambulation five minutes before I was jumped  by this fast-talking mall kiosk sales type, who began rubbing his snake-oil exfoliant into my hand before I was able to draw a second breath. It is, or used to be, a truism of retail sales that three "Nos" were like three strikes: you're out. I peppered this earnest Israeli (self-identified) with about twenty before I got my hand back and got out of there. I continued my mall walking with slight detours to avoid Mr Unctuous and his nostrums. I began to think I had escaped all ill effects.

But no: a couple of hours later,  the exfoliated hand began to itch furiously,  like an anaphlactic reaction. Unwisely I began to scratch, when so help me, my skin started crawling around. My scratching tore open an abrasion about 15mm in diameter, between my thumb and index finger on the back of my hand, as easily as tearing a tissue. I galloped for the nearest rest room and flushed my hand with soap and water until the itching and the creepies subsided. The damn thing oozed for a couple of days afterward. It's a hard place to bandage and hence a bitch to keep clean.

I dislike pushy mall kiosk inhabitants, but an article in the next issue of Boston's street paper, Spare Change, put the business in perspective. This piece was deploring Boston's push to outlaw "aggressive panhandling" without the law being especially clear on what aggressive panhandling is. Fair point. I know what it is to me: squeegee men anywhere or the flower sellers at the Mass Pike exit to Storrow Drive (who practically become hood ornaments until you buy or the light changes): like that. The article pointed out that just being homeless and being on the street is enough to get someone labelled an aggressive panhandler. Why, selling Spare Change can do it. Specifics, Mr Mayor: specifics.

However, if one has the capital to organise a sketchy company and rent space in a mall, then aggressive panhandling becomes a legitimate business, even if there's nothing to choose between methods and the value of the product. Would the sensitive souls who might label a homeless woman sheltering with kids in a vacant doorway "aggressive" might fly to the defence of the ardent capitalism of a mall kiosk hustler. After all, the hustlers dress well and don't smell.

I'd rather defend the homeless family and ride the kiosk hustlers out of town on a rail. No squeegee man has ever tried to lift the skin from my hand.

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