Keys to the kingdom

Well, I mean honestly, you wouldn’t believe what happened to me the other day.

I was driving my relatively quite nice car, which I can afford in part because of the many advantages with which I was born, down to the local shopping mall, which is clean, safe and offers a range of consumer items which, by global standards, is obscenely grand and convenient.

I parked and my son and I walked through the car park, past a couple of almost certainly ridiculously overqualified men swapping jokes in Urdu as they pushed an anaconda of trolleys up to the service entrance.

Inside — this is before the really shocking thing happened, don’t worry, I’ll get there — I strode by the brightly lit shops and attractions, unthreatened as usual by anyone on the basis of my skin, gender, sexuality, religion or class.

I know, I know, but I’m getting to it. Just wait, you’re gonna freak when you hear it. Seriously freak. GetUp email campaign freak.

I was there to get some keys cut for my investment property. Look, I know, I really do, but we try to be appropriately embarrassed about it and have determined to give the ludicrous tax-break money to a good cause, because we can.

Anyway, long story short: we passed loads of people of all colours, creeds and persuasions, all shopping happily and comfortably but still statistically likely to be treated less well than me by employers, the media and state, and reached the key-cutting booth.

The key-cutter, who on average would likely earn significantly less than me if I’d trained as a key-cutter, left her tiny lathe to take my keys and tell me no problem and return to start cutting.

Then she saw my son. Wait till you hear this.

‘Got the day off?’ she said.

‘Sorry?’ I replied.

‘Looking after your son for your wife today, are you?’ she said.

Well, I was boiling, I was. ‘No,’ I said coldly. ‘I’m his parent. I’m with him three days a week.’

Her eyes widened. ‘OH!’ she said. ‘That’s WONDERFUL! How BRAVE you must be!’

‘I beg your hand-delivered gilt-edged unconditional royal pardon?’

‘Well, I mean, it’s amazing that you stay with him like that!’

‘As opposed to running away from him, like normal? For my KIND?’

‘You don’t see many men doing the Mr Mom thing. It’s so lovely!’

‘Whereas you see loads of women these says doing the Little Miss Man thing and getting jobs in professions,’ I hissed through unpartable teeth.

‘Hang on a sec, love, this tiny lathe’s loud. I’m just about done.’

She returned with my keys. I paid her in righteous silence and stormed home, past refugee doctors pushing mops and people with disabilities struggling to reach jumpers on a trestle table I’d earlier blithely thumbed through, to fume amid the collection of books and consumer electronics which it’s statistically much easier for me to accrue than just about anyone else in the world to accrue, and tweet about how shocking and unacceptable it is, in this day and age, to experience genuine discrimination.


Originally published in the King’s Tribune, which you should definitely read even though its tiny-lathe coverage is slim at best.

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