August 26, 2007

'Sup Brah

I went to the Salvation Army last week to donate some clothing. I got some pretty hefty attitude from the employee there. Apparently he didn't like how I filled out the receipt. For some reason he didn't like the fact that I wrote down that I had donated two bags of clothing, despite the fact that I had donated two bags of clothing. Apparently this fellow was having a bad day. And somehow I couldn't help but think of the last time I was at the Salvation Army so I figured I'd reprint that story for you. A blast from the past. Enjoy...

"Whatsup, bro."
That's the first thing the Salvation Army guy said to me this morning.
"Later, bro."
That's the last thing the Salvation Army guy said to me this morning.

You see, I'm a bro. Sometimes I'm a dude. A few times I've even been a brah. Mostly, though, I'm just confused.

But wait, let's take a step back here for a second. Let me create the image...

I am 39 years old, just a Peckinpah short of 40. For better or worse, I look a bit younger than I actually am. From what I'm told, I apparently look like I'm in my late 20s or early 30s, that age where people still care about whether a movie is rated R or NC17 or whatever other acronymic categories they have for movies these days. (Acronymic... you like that one, don't you? I knew you would.)

I maintain one of those cliche Hollywood two-day beards, primarily because it helps me look like I'm closer to my early 30s as opposed to an age where I'd be carded at the aforementioned R rated movies. Though my hair is starting to grey around the edges, I'm not falling short in the hair category at all, unlike some of my high-foreheaded peers. To the contrary, I've got a lot of hair on my head.

Like a few of today's youth, I keep my hair a wee bit longer than the close-cropped corporate cut. I don't look like a surfer by any means, but I probably would stand out in the conservative cubicles of Proctor & Gamble.

So here I am, rapidly approaching middle age, yet am still referred to by such puerile monikers as bro, brah and dude. Part of me is somewhat offended when people call me these names. That part of me just wants to whip out my ID and shove it in their face, all the while screaming, I'm 40-frickin years old, kid!! DON'T CALL ME BRAH! I'M NOT YOUR BRO! HOW ABOUT SIR? WHAT'S WRONG WITH SIR?! HOW ABOUT A LITTLE GODDAMN RESPECT HERE?!?!?!

Of course the other part of me is completely happy to maintain it's youthful nature. Hell, if these youngsters consider me a part of their culture, I should feel happy. Elated even. Maybe I'm younger than I think. Maybe these back pains and slow-to-get-out-of-bed mornings are a sign of my spriteliness, of my extreme athletic ability, and not an indication that I'm two steps away from being able to park in the Handicapped Zone.

So when the Salvation Army guy bid me farewell this morning with a heartfelt "Later bro," I started realizing that this was the new form of being carded. Instead of "you look young, can I see your ID please?" our society has narrowed the interchange down to a simple "Whatsup Brah".

Even though I feel as if my life is already halfway over and that I have already worked for more years in my past than I will probably work in the future, I suppose I still feel as if I have some sort of connection to youth. After all, I'm a bro. A dude, even.

So I suppose that next time I am in the supermarket and the check-out person says to me, Would you like help out with your packages, sir? My proper response should probably be something in the realm of, No worries, brah. I got enough kid left in me to carry twice as many packages.

Later, dude.


hc said...

Thanks for being understanding about The Salvation Army employee. Since you're a journalist, you might be interested to know that many of the employees of the thrift stores and their associated warehouses are residents of The Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Centers. These ARCs provide counseling, housing, meals and recreation for men seeking to change their lives and beat addiction. As part of their job training and counseling, they often work at the thrift stores. In addition, the funds from the thrift stores support the ARC. Usually a metro area will have several thrift stores and one ARC (Adult Rehabilitation Center). Sorry you were not treated with respect. It really is a great program, but it does come with the possibility that a person serving as a clerk may be having a difficult time coping with withdrawal or just coping with a new life. Thanks for reading! And I hope your tri training is going well. It's a fantastic sport - I love it!
Alice Hohl, Community Relations Director, The Salvation Army in Greater Columbus

j. said...

I did not know that about the Salvation Army employees, Alice. Thank you very much for sharing it with me (and anybody else who happens to read this). I am fully supportive of those in rehabilitation and recognize that anybody and everybody - whether you are in rehab or not - is allowed to have a bad day.

Again, thanks for sharing. And keep up the great work yourself!