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40


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 40, July 9, 1998

Mad As I Wanna Be

Second Place Winner, Teen Category

Kimberly Martin (age 17)
don-tiggre@utah-inter.net

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

         Apparently, I'm a much better looking teenager than I thought I was. I've always seen myself as a little plain, and maybe a little too hefty for my height. But boy, when I go out, do I ever get the looks! Wistful glances from teenage boys? Sadly enough, this is not the case. Upon every shopping venture I've ever executed, it never fails that I turn the heads of suspicious shopkeepers everywhere. Whether perusing clothes at JC Penney's or merely selecting some gum from the rack at Walgreen's, I can't seem to escape the disapproving glares of managers everywhere. After much consideration, I finally confessed to myself that perhaps the scrutiny I received wasn't caused by my breathtaking appearance after all. Like so many of my peers, I was being watched closely merely because of my age.
         This obvious ogling used to make me feel uncomfortable. I would hustle out of the store with my head tucked into my chest, feeling guilty as I passed the exit. There were certain stores I wouldn't even enter because of the looks I knew I'd get. Finally, after being forced out of one too many shopping places, I became indignant. I realized that my hasty exits were practically confirming the shopkeeper's suspicions that I was there to rob them blind. I worked thirty hours a week! I had money to spend, and I was a decent person! I was very tired of managers feeling they had to keep a vigil going whenever I walked in. Finally, I decided to stand up for my rights. The right to select between Wintergreen and Pep-O-Mint Life Savers without feeling rushed. The right to shop in the undergarment section at K-Mart without having "John the Manager" eyeing all my selections, making sure none disappear into my purse. The right to a little consumer privacy!
         While looking at CDs at a local chain, one older clerk seemed to find a chore to do in every aisle I browsed. Finally, I turned to the man and said "Can I help you?" Traditionally this was his line, of course, but seeing as he had said nothing so far, I decided to break the ice. Flabbergasted, the man sputtered for a few moments and returned to the safe haven of his checkout counter. Feeling triumphant, I bought a single that I didn't really want, just to show there were no hard feelings between us. Now, whenever I catch someone with a name tag trailing me through a store, I say to them, "I'll let you know if I need any help." This usually confuses or embarrasses the watcher sufficiently enough for them to leave me alone for the rest of my stay in their shop.
         Luckily, I was able to find a peaceful way to deal with this infringement on my rights. Many times, however, this is not the case. Many teenagers do not know how to deal with restrictions or retributions caused merely by their age, and so make bad decisions in dealing with them. They may scream or fight, or take a walk down the wrong path (violence, drugs, alcohol) to deal with their troubles. This, in turn, sullies the already bad reputation of the age group and only leads to more restrictions. My generation must learn that not only is it important to fight for our rights, it is also important to do it the right way. Start petitions against dress codes, don't yell at your teacher. Write a Senator about your oppressive teen curfew, don't break it and end up in a juvenile detention center. We must make it clear to our elders that if they always treat us like children, then it is like children we will always act.
         The stripping away of our independence and the loss of the ability to make our own choices is going to have a debilitating effect on the future. A person who has been controlled or escorted throughout their entire adolescence is going to do one of two things upon receiving freedom as an adult: one, they will not be able to handle the responsibilities, and so will be completely overwhelmed by what adults call the "real world", or; two, they will go buck wild and absolutely crazy as adults, having finally been given the freedom they craved for so long. Neither of these scenarios bode well for the future. All teenagers must take a stand and defend their rights, if not for the rest of the world then at least for themselves. We are important to this world, whether we realize it or not, and we have a very powerful voice that we seldom use. I hope that one day soon my generation will see its importance and speak out to change the unreasonable restrictions we have been saddled with only because of the year of our birth. We must write that Senator. We must start that petition.
         And we must let "John the Manager" know that we can pick out our panties by ourselves, thank you very much.


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