Get Off My Lawn

I can't tell if he's laughing or crying.

The Bailey Chronicles Part 2: Hustle and Flow

The Bailey Chronicles Part 1: Like a Boss

Part of our weekend ritual for many years was going to the mall. Bailey loves movies, and loves to watch them in the theatre. His favourite genre is horror–the scarier and more graphic, the better. We’d go to the food court for lunch, then head to the theatre.

When I first started working with Bailey, he was much more independent than he is now. We’d settle into our seats and then Bailey would decide to go to the concession stand; he’d come back with a diet pop the size of a small trailer. Sometimes he’d have popcorn. As anyone who’s ever bought anything from a theatre concession stand knows, the price gouging is staggering. I was perplexed about how Bailey was paying for this stuff. He always had the same amount of money on him after he returned as he did before he left.

After a few weeks of this mystery, I put on my detective hat and decided I’d follow him out to the concession stand and observe from a distance. He pointed to the pop size he wanted and when the teenage girl behind the counter filled up the cup, he nodded to her in his most charming way. But then when it came time to pay, he put out his hands in a gesture that clearly indicated he had no money. The girl smiled and passed him the pop. Without him paying. Holy shit.

The H is for Hustler baby. Don't you forget it.

The H is for Hustler, baby. Don’t you forget it.

At this point I intervened.

“Excuse me, ” I asked, “Is he not paying for this drink?”

“That’s okay,” said the girl, with a beatific smile. “He doesn’t have any money,” she explained. Like this was a service the theater provided for people who were indigent.

“No, ” I said emphatically. “This is not happening. He is not taking this without paying.” I slid the drink back toward her.

I looked at Bailey, who was equal parts mad and embarrassed.

“You can’t buy drinks and food if you have no money, Bailey. The girl has to pay for that out of her own money and that’s not fair.”

“It wasn’t me. It was somebody else,” he said. This was his catch-all statement for any time he was caught doing something he shouldn’t.

I told the girl behind the counter not to give Bailey anything if he had no money. I assured her that he could pay for these items and he should pay just like any other customer.

We returned to the theatre sans pop as he stubbornly refused to pay. He was pissed, and in fact he was so mad at me he sat on the other side of the theatre for the whole movie.

“Are you serious?” I called to him as he marched up the aisle and over to the side gallery. “Oh my God, you’re being ridiculous.” He ignored me and mumbled some–I’m sure–not very  nice things about me.

“Okay,” I said. “Suit yourself.” And we watched the movie.

When it was over Bailey came over to me and gave me a hug, looking up at me. “Buddy, I’m sorry, okay?”

Jesus, this man could melt my heart in an instant.

“Yes, buddy, we’re good.”

We had a great rest of the day but the Bailey Hustle was no more. And though I know what he did was wrong, a part of me really admired his survival skills. I was reassured in knowing that if the shit ever hit the fan, Bailey was gonna be just fine.

Categories: Non-Fiction

Tags: , , , , ,

33 replies

  1. Great stories! I too have a friend with Down Syndrome. He is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. i love this guy. 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wish I could get away with that…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I used to work in a cinema (eons ago), and that would have indeed come out of my pocket. They did everything based on inventory, so if there was a cup missing, they’d know someone didn’t get charged. But hey, Bailey gets an A for effort!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sounds like Bailey’s been playing the system for a while! Reminds me of my Casa kid. Equal parts charm and cunning.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great story! I need to learn me some hustle skills.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh John, I needed these laughs today. I love this: “Like this was a service the theater provided for people who were indigent.”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Ha ha ha. Slickster, that B. And you: you give us a glimpse of the father you would make, Tough Guy. *grin* People with disabilities and obvious disadvantages should be given a level playing field, esp when it comes to physical things. That is, denied no good, fair thing anyone else has access to. But special privileges are something else. We as friends and as a society want to help nurture strength and independence where it’s possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said. A big part of normalization is making the field level and fair and to someone with a developmental disability to give an unfair or unnecessary advantage is a form of bigotry that, though well intentioned, is damaging.


  9. What a great write. Great story telling as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I laugh and high five you at the same time, John. Just loved reading this story. Bailey Hustle brought a smile to my face. He’s lucky to have a movie buddy like you.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. you haven’t written anything in a while…i miss your words. x

    Liked by 1 person


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