Monday, April 29, 2013

Profiling of a Different Sort

I've noticed a change of attitude recently in store clerks when I enter a store carrying my bassoon.  Like most bassoonists, I have a black case cover.

Lately, I've been getting more attention upon entering the store than I'm used to. I went into a CVS in an inner-ring suburb in Cleveland last week.  When I've been in this store in the past, the clerks mostly couldn't be bothered to ask me if I need help finding something.  I'm quite fine with that as I prefer to do my own looking around.

However, this time upon entering the store with my bassoon over my shoulder, the clerk behind the counter immediately asked me if I needed help finding something and the store manager walked towards me briskly and asked the same thing.  Their attentiveness startled me for a minute, but I declined their offer of help and strolled down an aisle to start shopping.
This has happened to me in a few other stores recently. Normally I would have just attributed this to having entered the store during a less busy time, but the CVS had plenty of other customers in it when I was there.

Some things my daughters have told me combined with recent events in the United States leave me wondering if I am being profiled because of the "black bag" I'm carrying.

My older daughter had a job in a bakery this year.  She recently had to participate in "Active Shooter Training" or ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training. Additionally, my younger daughter recently had a day off from school because her teachers had to attend an all-day workshop for ALICE training. 

My older daughter says one of the things you look for when a suspicious person enters the store is someone carrying a large black bag. The Boston Marathon bombers used black bags to carry their pressure cooker bombs, for instance.  Shooters have used them to carry concealed weapons.

I wonder how many businesses are now requiring this kind of training of their employees and whether the stores I've entered recently have trained their workers this way.

My younger daughter says the teachers at her school are even being trained in how to resist an armed attacker. This is from the Wikipedia page on Active Shooter:

"On-Location Responders (school staff, faculty and campus security) play a crucial role during the initial moments of an attack, prior to law enforcement intervention, when most casualties occur (in the first 10 minutes). People on site that are properly trained can rapidly assess the threat, use cover and evacuate safely when possible, or barricade and hide from the shooter. Collective resistance tactics can be used as Last Resort Survival Measures to fight the shooter and take control of their weapon. Pre-incident training and preparations can save lives."

In other words, teachers may now be expected to fight shooters and take control of weapons! Given the fact that most of my daughter's teachers are petite 20-somethings I find this a preposterous idea! 

There is something wrong with a world that looks at the black bag that surrounds an instrument and thinks it's concealing a weapon. Would that it were the case that musical instruments were more numerous in this country than weapons!

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