‘Could you uh, empty the till please, put it right here?’. A video gone viral; the apparently amusing caricature which is being named the most polite robber ever. Many of us would expect a loud, aggressive, youth, thriving off the shopkeeper’s terror, so we are surprised and endlessly entertained by the unimposing 65 year old limply pointing a tiny weapon vaguely in the direction of the store owner.
This assailant is evidently quite juxtaposed to what ‘robber’ means to us and this seems to be funny enough to launch an internet sensation, being labelled as ‘pure bants’ and ‘the most polite robbery ever LMFAO’; but I’m not convinced amusement is the most appropriate response to the senior citizen who is challenging what it means to be an aspiring criminal.
Personally, when I hear a man justifying his actions with ‘my kids need to eat’ and thanking their victim profusely spells out to me that they don’t really want to be committing that crime.
Personally, when I hear a man justifying his actions with ‘my kids need to eat,’ and thanking their victim profusely, essentially grovelling for some forgiveness for their actions, spells out to me that they don’t really want to be committing that crime. When I am 65 I hope to own my own home and not be so unsure about where the rent is coming from. To need to risk, and it seems in this man’s case, lose my freedom for the sake of a few hundred dollars seems a dismal forecast.
Gregory Hess was polite, kind, unthreatening; qualities that many of us, I warrant himself included, have been taught to respect by our parents. We are polite so as to get on, so we don’t upset people and so we create a positive impression, yet for this Gregory is mocked and ridiculed. True, his attitude inspires much less contempt than your average shot-gun wielding hill-billy who is as keen to shoot as to make money he probably couldn’t count. But Mr Hess has become a comical figure, below admonishing and well deserving of our pity.
Our attitude to this incident gives an even more worrying picture
The man broke the law and although being entirely unwilling to level anything more threatening than a BB gun, he received 60 months (doubtless to be reduced for good behaviour) for robbery with what appeared to be a ‘deadly’ weapon. I think the fact that people at his time of life are being driven to crimes they really don’t want to commit says worrying things about how a state may act on its responsibility to help and support its citizens.
But I think our attitude to this incident gives an even more worrying picture. This is funny, this is a surprise? What exactly is our attitude to criminals? When a man levels a gun at me in a shop, or brings a knife to me when I’m walking home at night and says ‘give me your fucking wallet,’ smacks me around a bit and runs off into the night, does the subtext read ‘I’m perfectly happy, well off, I have a happy life at home and I don’t actually need your possessions but I want them anyway,’ or are they desperately reaching out for a change in their lives? Surely they are reaching for money they don’t have, a lifestyle they’ll never be able to afford.
Do manners justify crime? Of course not, but this doesn’t mean we should assume that everyone who wants to commit crime is extremely selfish, or wants to hurt people. We should be worried when people who clearly don’t want to hurt people, commit crime.
Photo Credit: John via Flickr