I remember, back in the 80s especially, there was this religious movement - actually sort of ecumenical - to get the dirty mags out of convenience stores, including the ones behind the counters ... and it was known that if the store owner was born American, it was a good chance at that some point in his life, he had been churched, and you could appeal to its sense of God ; but if they were foreigners - it would be pretty hard to appeal to anything, really ... one line of thought was that they were so focused on the bottom profit line, it superseded whatever they might believe in; and a darker line of thought was that there so-called 'faith' didn't prohibit such grossness ....
There was a reason I was thinking of that today.
The only place I can find my cigarettes - well, there are two places, actually: the Wal-Mart; and then this tobacco store - both down the highway in the next town ...Wal-Mart I have a few problems with - I get in there and say oh! I need this and that and the other thing, and walk myself exhausted; plus, they have a habit of selling stale cigs ... besides which, the Arab gentlemen who run the tobacco store are very friendly and they remember me, and I always go for personal service if I can :)
Now, the college students are back, increasing foot traffic in all types of stores, including the tobacco shop ... so I was not surprised to go in there today and find it quite crowded... Now, I'm not an ignorant woman: I recognize that what are on the shelves are alot of what we used to call "head shop sales", and that an awful lot of flavored cigars are sold individually or in small packs to be made blunts out of ...
So I go in there, its crowded, and I politely stand in the aisle, waiting.
And the Arab gentleman behind the counter does something surprising - "M'am?" he is waving almost frantically at me. "Come, come! I wait on you, first!"
Now, my initial thought was - sure, sure, regular customer here ... but as I got to the counter, I saw his face and
He was embarrassed. Not about me, but with his darting eyes looking at the young, waiting customers and back to me - he was embarrassed about the other clientele and what they were thinking of doing, with their purchases. Me, I'm going to develop more and more health problems with a legal product; them? - they're tapping into the drug culture.
And all of a sudden ... I thought back to the dirty mags war days. I suddenly had new information: that maybe people who are resistant do, after all!, have a strong conscience and a feeling about it -- but are kind of stuck under that low ceiling of trying to make a living - selling what the market demands ...
I also thought of something from that tv show "The Wire" - was I the only customer in there, with eyes of a citizen???