So down we went to the remainder book + sheet sale at Exhibition Park in Canberra. During my time there (after buying books and DVDs I did not need), I was accosted by a fat biker looking security guard.
'What's in the bag mate?'
'Books. I got a receipt.'
As I was digging out the receipt a very tall old bloke with a beard hanging out each nostril came over.
'You don't have to do that if you don't want to,' he says.
'What?' I said, confused.
'You don't have to show him your bag.'
This naturally annoyed the security guard, which, to be fair, was just doing his job.
But Beard Nose had a point. Do I have to show the contents of my bag when I am still in the shop? The old bloke insisted that if the guard forcibly looked he could be charged with assault.
So they had this slanging match as I stood meekly to one side. The guard was pretty pissed off. After-all Beard Nose had pretty much undercut his authority in front of every person in ear shot.
Beard Nose turned and walked off, with the guard shouting 'come back here mate', and Beard Nose simply said 'you can't make me' and walked off.
Now even though I was tainting with embarrassment, Beard Nose had a point. In this day and age the security lads are feeling a tad more important – what with being on the front line of the fight against terror. And maybe they let their importance go to their head. Now I'm not sure on the legalities of having my bag searched in the middle of the place where I had paid for my items already – I'm pretty sure they don't actually have that power unless it's the police. But you know what, Beard Nose stood up for a stranger, which was pretty f_cking cool of him.
And in ten years time, when our lovely smashing anti terror laws have been extended indefinitely, and the off shore super max detention facility at Christmas Island celebrates the internship of it's 1000th inmate who made the foolish decision to purchase several items over a two year period that could be made into a bomb, and had some detective book in his house where the recipe for that was given and a previous owner had dog earred that page, I seriously hope there will be Beard Noses out there who would still be willing to do that for a complete stranger.
I later caught up with Beard Nose at the cafe near the entrance and said thanks. I figured he deserved it, even if I had been happy to comply.
There's this event I read about in World War Two, where some Germans responding to partisan attacks rounded up the men of a Dutch village to demand they be given up. The men refused, so the Dutch were marched off to outside of town, to be mass machinegunned. Just as the firing squad was gearing up, one of the Germans said 'I can't do this.' His officer naturally demanded he did so. The soldier again said he could not. The officer shrieked it was his duty to obey and that if he did not he would be shot.
The soldier marched over to where the Dutch men stood awaiting their fate, and head held high, met it with them.
Now that is maybe the bravest action I had ever read of in my life. Marching to sure death because it was a moral choice to die rather than participate in something truly immoral.
I don't think I could ever do that, nor 99.999% of people. So for me, that soldier is up there with Tank Man from the Tianamen Sqaure protests of 89.
Half devil salute to Beard Nose, Noble Jerry, and Tank Man. I salute you.