Something happened yesterday that inspired me to write this post. It’s completely true, and, whilst not exactly a world changing event, it was so entirely unexpected and against the grain of my own self-programmed stereotypes, I had to share it.
You may remember from our Facebook page that the BBC came in and did some filming for the ‘Your Money’ programme a few days ago. This isn’t that unusual, a film crew from one of the big four often appear for something or other, and this shoot was nothing out of the ordinary. The article was about promoting the discounts you can get through your Reading Bus Pass or NFC enabled mobile phone at Quantum (and other retailers in Reading) using Molo. If you don’t know about this, by the way, you should really check it out because if you DO have a Reading Bus Pass, you’ll already have all the offers around the town centre loaded on it. But anyway …
The short bit of footage that made it into the programme showed the card being used, ie tapping it on the Molo reader and the offers programmed into it coming up on the screen on the counter, followed by a bit of chat and some lovely shots of Smelly Alley (Union Street). It was shown on national BBC TV at 10.30am on Saturday 22nd June. That’s it, job done, end of story.
Except that last night I happened to be in the café clearing a table at the front. It was a warm, sunny evening at around 6.30pm and Union Street was full of the usual groups of people hurrying home from work, going shopping, and going about the daily business that we all do. I became aware of a group of around six youths approaching the café. They were around fifteen or sixteen, both blacks and whites, and fully paid up (or blagged in) members of the baseball-caps-on-backwards-trousers-half-way-down-the-arse-ridiculously-blinged-up-look-at-me-and-I’ll-hurt-you-club. Honestly, they were middle aged man’s perception of the youth of today’s walking cliché. Even worse, they clearly had nowhere to go and were just wandering around town very slowly. This can sometimes be a problem, especially if you have outside furniture, as we do, that is ‘fun to nick’ or, more commonly, drag down the road ‘for a laugh’.
I hung around the front, out of sight, but within earshot, just to make sure all was well.
“That’s that shop, innit” said one in the typical, expressionless, grunting style that we all once used ourselves but now have trouble deciphering.
“wot?” said another, casually kicking a fag end down the street.
“That shop that’s got that swipe thing. You just swipe it and you get money off and stuff. It was on the news.”
It was on the news? Did he just say “IT WAS ON THE NEWS?!”
Actually, it wasn’t. It was only on ‘Your Money’ on Saturday morning. Which raises a lot of questions. How many members of said youth club watch ‘Your Money?’ On a Saturday. On a Saturday morning. Our article was half way through which means they must have watched the whole thing. This programme is probably aimed at a specific demographic, middle class working people usually, and as sure as hell is aimed at people who get up before 10.30am on a Saturday. As a youth I don’t ever remember getting up on a Saturday, dragging my sorry, groggy body downstairs and seeing what the financial state of the world was as a priority with a bowl of coco pops. But this guy had.
Not only that, he seemed happy to share it with his mates who, in turn, seemed oblivious to the fact that this had to have occurred for him to have this information.
Whatever the answer, situation or series of events that transpired that allowed this stereotypical, grunting, aggressive looking teenager to come into this information, the fact is, it happened. And, of course, it’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things. But as they walked away with the news junkie explaining to his mates in monosyllabic grunts how the system worked, I actually smiled to myself at how much I never, ever expected those words to come out of his mouth. And then I smiled some more about how glad I was they did.