It was soon after I started talking about Vandalism & Barbarism more seriously that a friend came up with the idea of picnics in supermarkets. At first I thought it was impractical: the security guards would soon kick us out. I was wrong, you have to be smart to subvert the the daily order. When we talk about picnics, we immediately remember the image of the towel stretched out on the ground, full of fruit, sweets, and salty snacks.
Who said that picnic had to be like that? That was the first question that occurred to me. Then was the following: what, really, is a public place? Are supermarkets public places? Is it forbidden to eat inside a supermarket? For me, these are inspiring questions. For example, it is perfectly normal to sit on a bench in a square, take out a sandwich from your purse and eat it in peace. But to do the same in a department store can be different.
Suddenly there I was, imagining these things happening. Suddenly there I was, getting in with some Delinquent & Sick friends and that was it: an inconsequential action of the New Barbarians was being designed, we discovered that, yes, we could create situations that would subvert the daily routine and turbocharge the banal reality with a little more art. The material used was the most basic and prosaic possible: aluminum lunch boxes and leftover food from the weekend. The modern world and its hidden taboos allows great fun for those who enjoy creating situations.
Sunday afternoon we were all set: four lunchboxes full of pasta. The target: C&A dept store on Monday afternoon, as soon as everyone had left their forced labor. We would have a synchronized operation. Each one would take a packed lunchbox and a watch with the correct time. Each one would open his lunchbox in a different section of the store with a strategic difference of five minutes, enough to drive the employees crazy in their rush.
At half past six I sit down in the shoe department, after telling the clerk that I was just looking at the models and pull out my lunchbox of noodles. The clerk looks visibly embarrassed and doesn't know whether to say something or not. Out of the corner of my eye I see that she turns to the security guard and asks something. The security guard speaks to the walk-talk and whispers in her ear. It was quicker than I expected.
- Young man, I am sorry, but this is not the right place to have a meal.
- Why not?
- You know, we have the other customers and someone might not feel very comfortable.
- Feeling very comfortable? I'm the one who is not feeling very comfortable here.
- Sir, try to understand...
- Young lady, pay attention, if the son of that woman in the red dress who is trying on the sandals, wants to eat the potato chips that his mother has in her purse, won't he be able to?
- But sir, it is different...
- What is different? As far as I know, those chips have a lot more carcinogens than this beautiful pasta made with all love and affection by my mother.
The discussion was going on longer than the poor employee had planned and the security guard soon realized this and came to her aid.
- Is there a problem?
I didn't even let the girl answer.
- Of course we have a problem, a big problem! It seems that the son of that woman over there in red is not allowed to eat her snacks.
- It's not that, the problem is not with the boy... (the employee started to get really nervous)...this man here doesn't want to understand that this is a department store and not a restaurant!
- Of course this is not a restaurant, I didn't buy this macaroni here, I didn't steal it from anywhere and I don't see why and I don't see why not to eat it.
The security guard was one of those typical self-assured big guys who is not at all afraid with discussions that goes violent.
- I'll tell you what, you little punk, I think you'd better get up out of there before things get really complicated for you.
- Things can't get too complicated, eating pasta is an extremely simple task.
- Boy, I'm not here for small talk, I have better things to do.
Then he started to pull me violently by the neck; by my calculations Jean would already be opening his lunchbox in the sector of pants and bras. Time to call for the manager, not forgetting the salutary dose of scandals, so that not only the manager doesn't come, but also gets a few beatings at the service exit or in the warehouse.
- Hey you mr.Noodles, I want to talk to the manager!
- Shut the hell up!
- Shut up my ass! (I was already starting to scream) I've been buying in this store for years, I've never been late with a payment.
Then someone called him on the radio and I was reassured knowing that Jean had entered in action. The big man let me go to talk on the radio and I was able to pull myself together. The manager was already coming. Finally I would see how managers do when problems get out of hand.
- Excuse me, may I ask what is going on here?
At such times a good troublemaker must know how to behave and use that polite little ace that was kept in their sleeve.
- Sir, there is a big misunderstanding going on.
Just then a small crowd of curious onlookers began to form around us.
- This employee, who attended me very well, by the way, confused everything and did not allow my stomach to get filled up before I chose a pair of sneakers, I was really interested in that 349$ Nike.
- But sir, it's okay if you are a little hungry, in that case you just had to communicate one of our employees that we readily get a more reserved place to make your meal, you agree?
- No, I don't agree! You mean the boy will have to leave the store to eat his snacks?
- I don't think you understand.
- From my side, I believe that something very wrong is going on here, this is not an environment in which I, as a potential customer, should be able to get a meal. isn't this an environment where I, as a potential customer, should feel at home?
- But sir...
And then he began a whole management litany full of well-placed words & platitudes of good service & that old bogus statement that "the right of one ends where the right of another begins". Jean must have been doing well, because an employee came to talk in the manager's ear and the security guards (now three) were hurrying down the stairs towards the men's fashion department. It was Vinicius and Vinicius is much more sarcastic and pamphleteering than I am.
The manager stuttered for the first time, asked the employee who had attended me to stay and asked to be excused and promised to return in a few minutes. The girl stayed with me without saying a word, totally outraged by the situation. And I contained the urge to laugh; well could someone call the police for things to really start getting big. Big day! Big day!
The deal was that as soon as the fourth lunchbox was opened by Fabio on the first floor, quarter to seven, we would all go there and give hugs and kisses to everyone. It was a perfect plan, by the way, we should have filmed the whole thing, but that's ok, these things will be photographically registered in our memories for the rest of our lives.
The manager was taking a long time and the employee was very restless.
- Honey, you can take a walk to relax and there's no danger of me eating again, do you want some?
- No, thank you, she replied, with the best disgusted face she could manage.
- You're welcome, baby.
Then it was quarter past seven and I got up from where I was sitting. The employee made a startled jump from where she was standing and then sat back down, recognizing the ridiculousness of the situation. Triumphantly I go to the first floor where Fabio would be without seeing a single security guard, they must have been busy. I found the whole crowd gathered with Vinicius still arguing with the manager about the concept of public and private places a considerable crowd around. I had pamphlets in my pocket. I like to carry certain pamphlets in my pocket. I will never forget the look on the manager's face when Vinícius made a angry face, said that he wouldn't argue anymore and picked up our lunch boxes and threw them in the nearest trash.
- You are really right! This is a sacred place to buy where one should never, ever, commit the heresy of not spending. Mr. Manager! These three juvenile delinquents are my brothers and you can be sure that I will tell our mother everything, word for word, and these three little marginals will stay at least a month withoutvwithout eating pasta.
Then we started to walk towards the exit of the restaurant, waving goodbye and blowing kisses to all the curious people who had a smile on their face. Everyday Disturbances is what I find most entertaining these days lately. Before leaving, I turned around and threw all the pamphlets with the phrase "Be realistic, demand the impossible" that I had in my pocket, speaking loudly and clearly:
- A big hug for all of you!!!!