Jul 26, 2009

Precisely. Plus, it made me laugh in a wry and cynical way:

I work in an amazingly large liquor store. If your credit card is going to be 206'd (denied) anywhere, it's there. Why? Because your credit card company is profiling you every day, with every purchase you make. With one swipe of a small magnetic strip, a thousand transactions are happening simultaneously and little robotic machines are go/no-go'ing a set of rules written by some actuarial expert that can capriciously decide that, since you don't ever use this card, and now all of a sudden you've spent $4.25 at a convenience store in another state, $21.50 at Target and now $124.00 at a liquor store, you're probably a criminal, grandma.

(cartoon h/t to Last of the Few.)

Every day, most people thank me for asking to see some I.D. when they present a credit card for payment. Almost everyone. If someone takes offense or is peeved by it, it will certainly be a black man. The result of such umbrage is to make me a bit more chary in asking for identification. I hope that makes black people feel safe and dignified and worthy of respect. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout. I'll gladly let whomever use their credit card if it will keep me from being the target of victimized wrath. It's everywhere. It's so tiresome.

Moreover, certain items in our store are behind lock and key. They are less costly than other items, but are the most likely to be shoplifted. These items are popular with thieves. I make no judgment call on why, it just is. Apparently, if we lock up the most-stolen items, people take offense that they have to ask for a manager to make the item available to them. I am often the target of their offended sensibilities. I assure them that it is a matter of scientific calculation, much like determining which car is the most stolen car in the U.S.: the one which is easiest to steal, most appealing in the fence market, and easiest to dispose of. That is the car to whom the most anti-theft devices are sold. It's an artful defense which I came up with on the fly, but it makes sense and they are satisfied.

Because, it really does make sense.

However two days ago, a black businessman had his card 206'd and I was very apologetic, but assured him that he should check immediately with his card company as it was likely a profiled pattern that included alcohol purchase. He was unable to complete the purchase and left to make some calls.

He returned an hour later, looked for his purchase that I was holding, and smilingly offered up a, "don't ever name your child Junior!" We both laughed when I told him that that was all the advice my new mother-in-law ever offered me before I married her son, and now I understand. He related that it had been nothing but a headache for him now that his son was old enough to have credit, too many cross-references were hitting the profile.

Innocent. Explainable. Fixable without drama.

Just remember: no matter what color you are, you are being profiled, pre-judged, categorized, and likely marginalized by facts that are beyond your control. If you don't like that, you must move off the grid. To abuse those who live on the grid with you is to not understand one's place. No matter "who you know" or what sort of lofty position you think you occupy, the Grid is a plane of intersecting points of interest. You will most certainly, at some nexus, find yourself crossed up in a misunderstanding.

It's better to prepare for it like an adult.

14 comments:

Betsy said...

It's like folks whose underpants get all in a bunch over the police shooting people... if you do not wish to be shot by a police officer there are some things you just ought not to do no matter who you are. Do not run away from the police. Do not wave things around at the police, especially things that might resemble a weapon. Do not try to run the police over with your car. Just simple common sense, really. I'm old enough to be the mother of probably the majority of our police force but you can bet your buns I'm going to be respectful and say "Yes sir" or "Yes ma'am" if I am ever pulled over. I think the odds are pretty good that they won't shoot me.

Jean said...

Kinda like screaming at the waitress because your steak is too rare... or the customer service in India... well, yeah, like that. And, who can exist off the grid?


wv: antal (and that ain't all)

pamibe said...

I always thank a clerk when they ask to see my ID, whether it's in the liquor store or Macy's.

I had wondered about the cc company computers and how they profiled; knew it had to happen somehow, or why else would we get a call now and again asking about a purchase?!

leeann said...

H is a 3rd, one step past Junior. He's had his card questioned from time to time, and it does appear trouble can trickle down the tree as well as up. (His dad was rather free and loose when it came to financial responsibility). That explains a lot.

Teresa said...

The husband of one of my friends lives in a town with a guy who has the exact same name (obviously not the same street address). The "other" guy has had multiple police problems over the years. So....

Every time they travel by plane, they have to allow extra time because TSA WILL pull him and put him through the ringer. *sigh*

I've had my credit card fail a couple of times because of problems at the card company. I don't get mad at the person who tells me there is a problem... I apologize to them for using a card that makes them have to do extra work. I also thank people who ask to see my ID. Although sadly, it seldom happens.

GUYK said...

"And, who can exist off the grid?"

Yeah, now adays ya can run but it costs a lot of money to hide. The hell of it is the bad guys seem to be hiding with no problem and it is the good guys who have every damn move they make tracked. And I think I am gonna get me one of them cam devises for my puter so when Homeland Security comes by next time they will see a picture of my hairy butt!

It ain't easy being a member of that group Obama has deemed dangerous...you know, those that still love this country and resist giving up our guns and religion? And had rather have a mug of jumpstart than Obama koolade?

dogette said...

I'm kinda glad they "profile," if that's what it is. It used to be called "taking precautions," or, "investigating," or, even earlier, "common sense."

Anonymous said...

heh Racist! Only one other career choice where you can wield your hate like Henry Aaron's baseball bat, with 10 penny nails protruding from the business end, bartender! Remember? You remember. heh heh xo ;~)

GLASR
viva la devolution

robinstarfish said...

And there it is - a medicinal dollop of uncommonly good sense that can be swallowed without holding your nose.

Paul said...

"You will most certainly, at some nexus, find yourself crossed up in a misunderstanding."

Yeah, sorry about that whole Tuttle/Buttle thing...

Just remember: We're all in it together!

</geek>

Velociman said...

Oh, ho. I see through your feeble attempts to mock us Imbibed-Americans. I hear it all the time:
Why won't you go out with me?
It's because I'm drunk, isn't it?

Racists!

Mrs. Who said...

I thank a cashier each and every time they ask for ID because it says on my card "PLEASE SEE ID".

I did some fraud work with Sears many years ago...do you know how much could have been stopped (and headaches prevented) just by asking for and ID????

(my word verification was 'roffl'...rolling on the floor farting and laughing???'

samaBlog said...

I used to get those issues all the time, credit agencies mixing me up with my father. Hence why I won't be naming my son Robert.

Jim - PRS said...

Yep. In the Mondo liquor store near me, the Johnnie Walker Black is locked up while the single malts, some more than $100 per bottle are on the shelves. Go figure.