For the second year running I grew a moustache in November to be a part of the Movember movement. For anyone who doesn’t know, Movember is a fund raising campaign to raise awareness of prostate cancer. It involves men growing a moustache for the month, and asking people to sponsor them with all proceeds going to the Movember charity which then passes the money onto prostate cancer research.
When I first did this in 2014, I tried to grow a very traditional moustache and I looked like a kiddy fiddler. Not a good look. So when I decided to do it again in 2019, I grew a full beard instead, but this didn’t sit right. A part of the Movember tradition is that you have a little fund with the moustache. For many that means growing a ‘porntache’ or the kind of moustache which Dennis Hopper had in Easy Rider — across the lips and down both sides of the mouth to the jawline. I’d trying doing this before but I found it difficult to avoid shaving off the verticals every morning. So in 2020 I began by growing a full beard to an impressive length and then shaving away everything but the Hopper-style parts. That meant it was thicker growth and therefore harder to shave off by accident.
So far so good. Friends started to sponsor me and all was well. Then I had a problem with my mobile phone contract which meant going into a Telstra shop. That’s when I learnt how it feels to be someone else. In Australia there’s an expression ‘bogan’ which refers to blue collar workers in the US or chavs in the UK. Stereotypically these people have a lot of tattoos, wear cut off t shirts and…..a Hopper-style moustache, only they wear it all year round. They’re not raising money for charity. They mean it. This is the style they chose when they got up this morning.
Like any stereotype, there comes certain expectations of behaviour by others which involves a lot of alcohol and often violence. So when I walked in to Telstra to explain my predicament, I was initially treated well and then something went wrong. All of a sudden the Telstra person became aggressive, threatening to throw me out of the shop. She decided she need backup from her supervisor, so she walked the ten feet and explained the situation at the top of her voice which included some outright lies about our conversation, knowing full well I could hear her.
I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but I left the shop with an apology and my new iPhone. Thinking about the whole incident afterwards, I was confused until I realized that I had been ‘profiled’. I imagine the Telstra people can deal with some very nasty people in their every day lives, and that means they learn to spot the customers who are likely to cause trouble and a Hopper moustache seems to be a red flashing light.
So all I had to do to ‘walk in someone else’s shoes’ was to grow a moustache.
Imagine if I could tan properly ?