I was tired after my fun London trip. I was grumpy at having to work, and bored mindless with having nothing to do. Still, I shouldn’t have answered back. I should have let it lie, if just for the easy life. I didn’t, though.
It had been a fairly quiet shift, Saturdays usually are, especially now the evil conglomerate, Co-Op, has opened opposite. In between the customers, I had been mostly reading the paper and thinking about blogging about my London time. Then in came an older, white-haired man to pay for petrol…
The best customers, for me, are the ones who are nice and polite, maybe exchanging the odd pleasantry, but are efficient enough to want to get in and out. Turn offs include rudeness, stinkiness, queue-hoggers, cheque book Charlies, conversationalists, people who call me “butt”, people who call me “mate” (who don’t know me), drunks, idiots, religious types, racists, and the Irish.
The older man was pretty much in the first group. He paid by card and was fairly pleasant. That was until he asked if our air compressor was working as he needed to fill a tyre. I said yes it was, but it needs a twenty pence coin. For some reason he took this to be more evidence of “Broken Britain”. He went off on a mumbley rant, saying how air should be free and such. I wasn’t really listening. He turned around and started to leave, only to turn back and say “In a year things will be a lot better once we vote the Tories in!”
This is the point. This is where I should have left it. I should have just smiled and let him walk off on his way. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. I have this confrontational part to my personality. Regardless of my own beliefs, political views, or in most cases, any kind of knowledge on the subject, I must take the contrary stance. In short, I love a good argument.
It started with a sarcastic “Yeah” from me. The man walked back to the counter.
“I could never vote for that privileged Eton boy.” I said, doing my best impression of the working class hero. “I thought we meant to of done away with these ruling classes, not be actively voting them in! Anyway, Cameron is just clone of Blair.” (Okay, I was more stuttery than that, but this is my story and I want to appear super sexy).
“Tony Blair is one of the biggest conmen in history, and that one-eyed idiot Brown!” the white-haired man said poking the counter. “Look at what they’ve done to the country!”
“Yeah” I said, “it’s terrible. I bet the poor starving African child feels really sorry for us(!)” I regretted it the moment I said it.
“I was a unversity lecturer and I taught a lot of dark people. Some of the blacks were good people, hard workers, but most were lazy.” he said “And I tell you what, the darkies all said the same thing. They were better off when we ruled them. Things were fairer.”
I was obviously shocked. I had clearly stumbled upon the Daily Mail’s core demographic.
“When the black man gets a bit of power and wealth, he just uses it on building palaces” he said.
Trying to drag the argument back to politics for fear of somebody wandering in and hearing the racist ravings of a mental, i asked “How is that any different to here when 10% of the population control 90% of the wealth?” (I plucked those numbers out of the air, I have no idea whether they’re true or not. They sound good, though).
“That’s the free market” he said, “we wouldn’t be where we are today without the free market.”
“What?” I said, “in a recession?”
He didn’t like that and started walking towards the door again. He reached it and said “I’ll come back in three years and we’ll see if anything has changed.”
I asked him if he had seen Cameron’s speech. He didn’t answer. I asked again. No answer. A third time.
“No.” he said.
I had. And I had him. He said “The problem with your generation is you don’t think for yourselves” and mumbled something about Peter Mandelson before leaving.