The Thursday Blog: Petty Justice Edition

Back during the big class-action lawsuits against the tobacco industry, when it was becoming public knowledge just how bold faced the cigarette manufacturers were lying to the public about faked tests, fictional trials, and asserting that anyone who didn’t smoke was both unAmerican and hated their own mother, I used to have this recurring fantasy where I would extract justice in the name of all the people killed by lung cancer who wanted to believe that smoking was safe.

I would kidnap tobacco execs, one at a time, (the anticipation only makes it worse) and duct tape them to a chair in a hermetically sealed secret room. I would then pump the room full of “safe” tobacco smoke from tens of thousands of cigarettes, and let the exec expire from the inhalation of his perfectly benign smoke. I would of course be long gone by the time the TV crews and cops got there, and would be on my way to the next impossibly brilliant kidnapping. (Yes, I know. I’m horrible. Get over it.)

While this a perfectly serviceable revenge fantasy, there are a few things that make it… let’s say impractical. First, unless me or mine are being directly threatened, I just don’t think I have it in me to murder someone. I’m not that guy. I’m more the sneak up to your house and YouTube videos of you peanut buttering your balls for the dog kinda guy.

Second, as difficult as it may be to believe, eighty-sixing an evil, corporate death peddler is catastrophically illegal. I know, right? Turns out I am also not the live out the rest of my days in quiet nobility from my prison cell guy either. I am definitely more Tim Robbins than Morgan Freeman.

Third, and most vexing; brilliant kidnapping schemes, hidden hermetically sealed rooms, secret identities, and travel, travel, travel… all of this requires a considerable outlay of cash. Hell, I couldn’t even afford enough cigarettes to asphyxiate my first tobacco assassin. Maybe I could just douse him in gasoline and light him with a cigarette. That would probably muddy my message though.

Enter Petty Justice. This is the kind of rough, take-no-prisoners, frontier justice that is not only immediate, but has a more equitable satisfaction to risk ratio and is surprisingly affordable. Some seekers of Petty Justice will key the doors of the hundred thousand dollar, bright red sports car some douche had parked across two parking spaces in an attempt to keep other people’s less expensive cars away. Virtual Petty Justicars will troll low level MMORPG zones with their tricked-out, max level characters just waiting for some twelve year old fucknut  to start griefing the noobs. Food service PJers apply liberal doses of snot, spit, and even less appetizing seasonings to especially dickheaded customers. (My brother and sister estimate that my ex-dad, a towering icon of small-minded douche-baggery, has eaten gallons of waitstaff produced effluvia in various burgers, pizzas, and other prepared meals.)

My personal favorite form of Petty Justice comes in any situation where helpless counter and register workers must face off with an at best indifferent, and at worst capriciously hostile public. These poor souls have no recourse other than to take it on the chin or be fired, and like a schoolyard bully sensing weakness, some jackasses who ought to know better just can’t seem to help taking advantage.

If this kind of Petty Justice sounds like it might be your bag, here’s what to do. When you see a customer being unreasonably toxic to some forlorn counter jockey, approach the situation quietly, and listen. Make sure you know who’s being the dick. When you’re reasonable certain that the woman screaming and throwing bread because the person behind the counter sold the last bag of pizza dough ten minutes before she got there is the one in the wrong, interrupt her and ask her a question. Be as inoffensive as possible at this point. You’re still trying to find out information here, and if you are nice first your target will be so much more discombobulated when you attack later.

Ask her what the problem is. Be sympathetic. Make it look like you are on her side. Make sure that the guy behind the counter isn’t really an escaped Nazi masquerading as a teenaged grocery store deli clerk and this woman is the only one who has figured him out. But once all your bases are covered, feel free to have fun. I have been in this situation around a half a dozen times over the years, and there are a few similarities I have noticed that are reassuring to note.

1.) The attacker is almost always a woman. Why this is, I’m really not certain, unless these are just people who feel powerless in their everyday lives, and are looking for someone to push around who can’t push back. Of course it could be that more women shop for groceries than men, too. This leads to number two…

2.) The attacker is a bully. Bullies never stick around for a fair fight. The only time I have ever seen someone approach me afterwards was one woman who had gotten the manager and had brought him ’round to…? Throw me out? Give me a spanking? I never was completely certain because she got so angry at the guy for laughing at my depiction of her crazed antics that she stormed out.

So… the rest of the conversation is likely to go something like this… Me: “Wait a minute, you’re upset because there’s no more pizza dough?”

Her: “Goddamn right I am. I always get my pizza dough right here and this idiot knows it! Don’t tell me they don’t have more back there!”

Me: “Seriously?”

Her: (now to the cowering kid behind the counter) “Don’t you tell me you don’t have more back there!”

Kid: “I was trying to tell you it’s froz…”

Her: (now screaming) “I told you not to give me any of that crap!”

Me: “Lady, you’re a fucking moron.”

Her: “What?”

Me: “I called you a fucking moron. This kid doesn’t have any pizza dough. How miserable is your life that you’re gonna stand here and shriek at him like a spoiled brat instead of walking over to the refrigerated section and getting it in a can?”

Her: (looking in the direction of the refrigerator aisle) “I… he…”

Me: “Whatever. Since you’re clearly not buying anything, I’d like some of those dinner rolls, young man. If I could get those from the non screaming asshole shelf…”

Her: (No longer saying anything, bolting for the door.)

There comes a time in a person’s life when they have to admit that they will never be a superhero, and the chances of rescuing Scarlett Johansson from a burning building are becoming vanishingly small. For us there will always be… Petty Justice!

42 Responses to The Thursday Blog: Petty Justice Edition

  1. I’m too mercenary and not passive-aggressive enough for petty justice anymore sadly, although I can remember this product. Back when I was a kid skaters (skateboarders) used to do this ridiculous fashion statement where they would wear pants hanging off their asses to show off their boxers and/or asscrack in imitation of prison-queer style. These same skaters would also invariably be total dipshits pulling all manner of stupid pranks and hassling all sorts of people that didn’t believe it.
    Back when I still could not be tried as an adult I would arrange for people to poll their pants down while I distracted them. Then while they were struggling to regain their dignity I would step with my boot on the dropped pants so that they could not be pulled back up. This is when we would demand apologies for the dipshit and harassment behaviours.
    It’s surprising how many of the deserving will give you easy ways to fuck with them just like that you know.

    Ex-customer who still loves the product, 5/5 stars, would buy again once I’ve regressed to second childhood.

  2. Kevin,
    if you often act like this, you mght not be a superhero, but you are a hero nevertheless.
    – you show those morons, that they are morons
    – you help the bullied
    – the only thing hurt is the moron’s ego – no real harm done.

      • Kevin, you are brilliant! A pity though that the message probably won’t sink in (the image of that one idiot trying to complain to the manager about you cracks me up). Now I have a reason to look forward to the next inevitable contact with an asshole so that I can try this out!

        • I know for certain that at least one person stopped coming to my grocery store altogether after I confronted them. Probably making others miserable somewhere else now, but at least “my Publix” is a little more pleasant now.

  3. I would never key the expensive car parked across two spaces.

    But I would park as close to the driver’s side door as I could given the opportunity, which doesn’t actually come up all that often. It depends on my mood, which car I’m driving, if parking is scarce, etc. Basically, I don’t really go out of my way for something like that.

    I did force a guy to enter his car from the passenger side once because he was about a foot over the line between the spaces. I don’t think he was trying to be a douchebag, he was just bad at parking. It was still funny to watch, however.

    • Back when I rode motorbikes I pulled up at the local supermarket to find a car parked within the barriered off motorbike bays (a corral a bit like they put shopping trollies in) as the driver obviously didn’t want to park 100 metres away and walk it. I pulled the bike tight to their rear bumper (blocking them in) and chained it up as always.

      As I walked in to the store a guy in the cafe raised his cup to me and I gave him a grin back.

      I shopped.

      S L O W L Y

      and eventually returned to the bike to see guy still in cafe I loaded the bike, unchained it and as I was riding off saw him walking to his car. So I guess he realised he’d been a douche pretty quickly on that one.

    • Nice one, Ron. Even a bad parker can pull out and try again.

      W00hoo, so the guy that raised his cup to you was the guy who parked in the bike area? Maybe he felt like you were inadvertently doing him a favor by keeping others away from his car. Nice of him not to be mad, but it’s still kind of a dick move to begin with.

  4. Yeah, the expensive types of revenge, though satisfying (You know, like taking some of these anti-jew ranters off the streets at the Fleabagger rallys, flying them to Germany, and locking them in the gas chambers at Auschwitz for a few hours to show them that yes, in fact, the Holocaust did happen, and they are a bunch of spoiled dimwits who are lucky I’m not evil enough to invest in some of the pellets necessary to operate the thing) are way too pricy.

    We shall have to settle for making them look like the complete tools they are. It ain’t the Bankers or “evil rich jews” who are at fault for their student loans…they’re called “loans” for a reason.

    No one is impressed when one of these goons whines “I had to go to Harvard, and now I can’t pay off my loan for my Fine Arts major!” – Because there are so many high paying jobs for those who can barely tell a Rembrandt from a Picasso and have no other job skills.

    • This attitude? You’re being a jerk to kids who don’t know any better which are getting exploited by both the banks and higher education institutions.
      Don’t be a jerk to kids who don’t know shit about the world and are told they have to go to college or else they’re stuck at a Walmart forever. They may understand that much but nobody ever told them what they really should take in a way they could understand. Some of those kids are using college as a way to break out of abusive homes where their parents won’t let them leave the house without an “acceptable” reason and a GPS enabled phone. Most of those kids don’t know the first damn thing about the way business operates or what is a useful skill in life because they’ve never lived any life where the important decisions weren’t made by someone else. You don’t blame a goldfish for being unable to breathe, don’t blame a suburban tard-kid with no sense for not knowing how to make decisions when they’ve never had training or experience in how.
      In all of those higher education institutions the liberal arts courses are generally cheaper and easier to get into and if you did shitty in school they’re all you can enroll in without getting laughed out of the process. It’s a fucking cliché that getting a history or a philosophy degree is majoring in paper hat after graduation but the banks still lend them that money anyway. What’s worse is that you can’t declare bankruptcy after five years or whatever and get let out of the commitment to pay it back even though in a lot of cases they’ll never be able to do it out of what they earn. What that means is that you’ve got people who have been transformed into indentured servants with a debt hanging over their heads they’re not allowed to escape. When the cost of going to college in the first place is more expensive than some houses I’ve seen for sale a lot of things about that are fucking crazy.

      • Sorry, AC, but I have zero sympathy for “kids” like this moron.

        And it’s NOT the banks doing the exploiting…it’s the colleges, who feel that they can raise tuition at will, because Pel Grants and Student Loans will take up the slack.

        • Yeah, that guy who fails at speaking is pretty awful, I mean take some speech therapy and go back to school for something else buddy. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have sympathy for him if he’s got a 70k bill for a journalism degree or whatever and all he can do with it is make podcasts on the web that are this fucking awful. I’d say he got gypped.

      • Well I’d load them in boxcars in Germany so they could experience the same wonderful accommodations Hitler gave the Jews on THEIR trip there.

  5. I liked most of your story today Kevin.
    However as much as someone may suck I detest established food places ‘enhancing’ food. This is just a big no no in my book. Same thing with property, you just don’t touch other peoples stuff.
    When I finally get my $178000 car I too will park in 2 spaces, but I will do it at the end of the parking lot where you are supposed to do this, with the other expensive cars. I already do this with my Duely Truck.

    Flustering angry patrons I can agree with. Most of the time they are so self interested they fail to see past their nose. Common decency and respect will win you many more engagements. Maybe she was mad because she picked the Barbarian class instead of the Cleric? Missing some INT score.

  6. Definitely a class without the self-awareness skill.

    I am pretty certain that there is no place in the parking lot where you are “supposed” to take up more than one space. However, if you must, then it is at least kind of you to do so far enough away from the door that people don’t feel like you have bumped them in favor of giving your car an extra cozy spot to rest.

    As for the food service people… the whole idea of Petty Justice is that it be delivered only to people who actually deserve it. In essence, you don’t get spit in your food unless you ask for it. I really don’t have any problem with that.

    • So you’re saying that your dad and everyone he deals with deserve mononucleosis and whatever else he got infected with over the years by the justifiably angry. It’s okay to transmit HIV because it’s to him, eh?
      Problem I have with that is that this is still terrible and criminal from an infectious disease standpoint. Two wrongs don’t make a right, if your dad is really THAT much of a jerk I think he should be presented with a bill for lost businesses and employee leave and told never to come back until he’s willing to pay in full for how much of a jerk he is. When people see a price tag on bad manners that’s when a lot of these idiots suddenly do understand.

      • I have long wished for an “asshole surcharge,” a standard rate to be assessed to anyone who is really egregious with their dickheadedness. And it should hurt, too. Something like +50% every time you act like a jerk.

        That would be preferable to spitting in someone’s sandwich, but we don’t have it. Until we do, being a douche to the guy who makes your food is just a stupid thing to do.

        • I have asshole clauses in my standard contracts… but I know I’m strange.
          Cameras from all the corners and covering all the doors set up to give a live feed to security tapes. If a customer is an asshole clip a picture from the archives of them being an asshole and present a print of it with the bill. Circle the asshole surcharge on the bill. Signs at the entrances and blurbs on all the menus explaining it.
          I don’t see why it would be hard in the slightest to set this up with modern technology.

    • I just can’t see it. Petty Justice would be taking extra long with the check, getting the freshly frozen pie out of the freezer instead of the recently baked one on the counter, under/over cooking something. I guess aside from the health issues spitting or worse in someones food just puts one at a deplorable level. Karma is always happening and spitting in someones food just because they are an a-hole is an easy way to get fired, fined, criminalized etc… that and food service servives on reputation, break that and you kill your business. Risking your income / business because of 1 person is just not worth it.

  7. Now that I’m awake enough to be thinking instead of just remembering I’ve gotta say that douchebaggery is all about low-self esteem being normal. The problem is if the douche is acting this bad it’s because they’re broken, immature and looking to score a victory in the battle for self-respect by taking a piece out of someone else. So defeating them really doesn’t help much except for ending the specific instance of douchebaggery in question.
    That is because self-esteem is at an all-time low in the western world–nobody measures up generally to outside standards of respectable. TV is telling people all the time about shit they can’t afford, bosses act dumber and more vindictively than many grade school teachers, the culture wars are telling us that no matter how you’re dressed someone disapproves (which goes a thousand times for women) and one incident that isn’t your fault at all can leave a person with everlasting reputation damage. Add in the conflicts between religious, more religious and less religious and I’d say self-esteem issues probably explains most stupid shit we see these days.

    • As someone who has suffered from low self-esteem for as far back as I can remember, I disagree (I might regret making this public confession later, but I just woke up and don’t really care right now). No matter how much it pisses me off to find a new dent in my car, I still only take up one parking space. I don’t talk down to the wait staff. I don’t harass the counter-jockey.

      What you’re saying is a symptom of low self-esteem, I see as a symptom of a sense of entitlement. Now, maybe there’s room in there for both of us to be right in our opinions. Maybe it’s a bit of both, and I don’t do these things because I don’t have the same sense of entitlement these bozos do, but low self-esteem is no excuse to treat other people like shit.

      I never feel sorry for the bully.

      • I suspect we’re disagreeing on the words to use more than what the phenomenon is personally, but I’d say it takes a really immature jerk with terrible issues to want to treat other people like shit in the first place. Not all self-esteem problems manifest like that of course but you have to be totally screwed in the head to get something out of being a shithead. Addressing that directly might be a more effective solution than just making them more angry.

    • While I absolutely believe in sympathizing with and helping to fix people who are broken, if you are doing something wrong, it does not matter in that moment if you are doing it just because you’re a mean-spirited asshole, or because your parents didn’t love you enough. You are engaging in behavior that needs to be corrected. Petty Justice is all about finding examples of bad behavior that our society has no mechanism to correct for, and doing something about it.

      • Okay, I didn’t say don’t do it, I am saying there is probably a better long-term solution than fighting douchebaggery with spite. Of course you are right that a lot of douchebags don’t see any problem with what they do and need to be educated very bluntly in the fact that they are unreasonable… and nobody does it.
        Again, this is about sociopathic disregard for other people though… as either a mental illness or a learned bad habit.

  8. On this week’s episode of http://www.needcoffee.com‘s podcast Weekend Justice (We have been bringing some form of justice about for 10 years) the discussion turns to Petty Justice and a new show that should be a remake of The Equalizer. Kevin can be my driver.

  9. As one of those grocery clerks, I can sympathize. However it’s pretty easy to de-fuse one of those screaming morons. Whatever they’re angry about, you get angry about the same thing right back. It totally takes the wind out of thier sails to have someone agree with them and be angry about it too. Of course having a second customer help out is nice, but most people don’t have the balls to step up and tell someone they’re being stupid.

  10. Kevin were you in Virginia this past week?
    I swear there was a man that looked exactly like your blog picture driving behind me in a maroon car. He had the hat, beard, the long hair, and general jaw outline as depicted in your blog pic. Assuming of course that is a representation of you!

    Long lost twin? (evil of course)

    • No, Chris, that was the good twin, and I’ve been gunning for that bastard for decades now. Virginia, you say…?

      (It’s me, though I cut all the hair off and sent it to Locks of Love.)

  11. You know, in my 23 years of living, I’ve never ever ever seen someone doing something as ridiculous as you describe. Some people say that Canadian culture is basically American culture, and I usually agree, but then situations like the one you’ve described… they make me wonder.

    Maybe it’s just the Canadian manners that solve everything for us. (Man, we have the most awesome international reputation ever!)

    • It’s not all that uncommon here in Florida, though it is certainly regional. Other states I have spent time in, (Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas) people are MUCH more polite. Florida is often not considered a southern state by many. Lots of folks simply consider it a place for New Jerseyites to go to die.