“Appropriate Behaviour” — Basic Capitalism in My Formative Years

I don’t know exactly what caused me to have an anxiety disorder. During my therapy sessions I elected to manage my mental health as opposed to find out where the darn mess came from.

On some days I speculate, and one of my theories is that it’s because I gained an understanding of how the world works during my formative years, only to be chastised for it. Then, after emerging into the adult world to see that it’s exactly how I thought it was, I get subconscious flashbacks to being told off for behaving like most adults.

Let me illustrate an example for you, using the power of my words and your imagination.

I’ve always been a shy kid. One who’s happy to live in his own world, but who still craves the attention of others like the rest of the damn species. After I started secondary school (age 11 for international reference) I didn’t really find confidence among my peers until I started selling chocolate bars on the school yard before and after classes.

A large supermarket chain, that rhymes with alfresco, built a store directly opposite my place of education. This meant that before school began I could go over to the store and buy ten multipacks of chocolate (candy) bars, in order to resell for a tasty profit.

It’s the classic get-rich-quick scheme for any twelve-year-old smart enough to use birthday money as investment capital.

Due to the multipacks of chocolate being so much cheaper than buying the bars individually (as low as 20p per bar), I could always sell them to my classmates for less than the price of an individually sold unit. Yeah, that’s right, I know the lingo.

Now, anyone who has ever bought a multipack of anything that’s individually wrapped will know that the external packaging has “Not Suitable For Resale” printed in big black letters on the wrapper. And had this been the reason for the shutting down of my hustle, I may have understood.

I began taking requests for specific items, and I would always oblige (providing that item was available in a multipack, if not you can sling your hook Mikey).

For months I enjoyed making a tidy 50% profit on most items, and subsequently saved that money for bigger ticket purchases in my own life — Video games, CDs, a mini fridge; The classics.

The cashiers at Tesco — I MEAN, thing that rhymes with… never mind. The statute of limitations must’ve expired here.

Well, the cashiers started to become a little suspicious, asking a question here and there. I would cover my tracks by saying that my pals gave me money before school and I do a solo run for all of our personal snacks that day.

“Well that’s an awful lot of chocolate bars.”

“I have a lot of friends.”

They’d always laugh at that one, which in hindsight I assume was because of my sickly/nerdy demeanour. Either way, it got me out of the situation and I was free to go about my morning business.

Eventually I started branching out into drinks, particularly as the warm weather started to hit. This meant I had to invest some of my profits into a new backpack, but it was worth it for the increased sales overall.

This little scheme helped me to interact with people outside of my friend group, as well as quickly perform basic maths. It also allowed me to develop my entrepreneurial spirit, which is a key talent to posses in a capitalist society.

I knew at heart that I was cheating the system, by purchasing items in bulk and reselling them as individuals, but even by age twelve I was aware of lying, cheating, corrupt politicians and businessmen. As far as I knew, I was just playing the game of life.

One morning, whilst carrying my two backpacks and one tote-bag worth of goodies, I was pulled aside by my form tutor for a chat. I felt like an unworthy kid at the chocolate factory, called out by Willy Wonka as I protested innocence, only for candy to spill from every available pocket.

homerbadman

See, I’d always been really careful to make sales between classes, so that teachers wouldn’t be disturbed by my transactions. Sure, I’d cut verbal deals in the middle of Maths if the sale were big enough. But no money or goods would ever change hands — The classroom is a place for learning.

So I was surprised to be pulled aside one morning and be told to stop selling chocolate bars. It was that damn cashier, I just knew it. She didn’t know my name, but she must’ve said something to the school about a sickly/nerdy looking kid, and all the teachers rushed to me for some reason…

I asked why I wasn’t allowed to do it anymore, and I wasn’t given a suitable answer. As I mentioned above, if the multipack legality issue had been brought into the conversation, then I would’ve held my hands up and surrendered my candied wares.

However, I was simply told that I couldn’t, because “it’s not appropriate”, and as a child I took this as gospel. The entire world seemed to be hustling to get by, but I guess if an authority figure tells me that it’s not the done thing, then I should probably stop.

I asked my form tutor how he’d found out about my schemes, and he said that another pupil had brought it to his attention. To this day I still have no idea who grassed me up, but something tells me it was the other kid who had been trying to start a rival business for weeks beforehand, to little success.

Low and behold, the second I close my metaphorical doors of business, he swoops in and collects all my old customers. This included a habitual snacker, who would regularly drop £5 a day on confectionary. He’d harpooned my whale. (This isn’t a fat joke, the kid actually had a fast metabolism, it’s a term used in gambling I swear.)

But this was fine, because I had done the right thing, I was now “appropriate”. Except that my confidence gradually dropped, as I’d lost my outlet to interacting with people outside of my friend group. And I became fearful of any business ventures going forward.

To tell the truth I even became suspicious of the concept of Maths as a whole, as I’d replay scenes of being told off for practicing basic maths outside of the classroom. You know, I bet this is also the point where I started to subconsciously criticise capitalism — We’re unpacking a lot here.

Then I entered the adult world, and found that everyone is cutting one corner or another in order to get by. Even if it’s just a petite, “white” corner-cutting.

I guess my point is that I have no idea why I get such bad anxiety in most regular occurrences, but it’s fun to blame this formative experience because it doesn’t effect anyone who I love and respect.

I suppose the positive to come from this time in my life is that I easily see corruption and corner-cutting in world leaders or respected members of the community. Because I’ve played their game, I know how it is on the rough streets of white collar crime. Don’t mess with us, or we might just sell you something for twice what it’s actually worth, whilst breaking several national wholesale laws in the process.


Today is Tuesday, January 8th and I wanted a .gif of all of the candy spilling from Marge’s coat but I couldn’t find one.

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