The Sticker

Published 9:57 am Wednesday, August 13, 2014

by Noel Lewis

Rejected. I feel rejected. No, no, no. I am rejected. There it is, plain as day, out there for the entire world to see. It’s the unholy badge in bold letters proclaiming to God and man that I am, at best, an incompetent, incapable, moronic, perhaps lazy individual that cannot hope to get my life together in the slightest. Might as well read: “REPROBATE,” or “NE’ER DO WELL.” The last bastion in our society actually designed to shame individuals into action.

Rejected. Bah! Couldn’t they have come up with a better way of putting that? Isn’t there a softer blow that could be invented in this day and age of political correctness? We’re just poor hapless people, for crying out loud! There’s got to be something less intrusive, less obvious, more discreet. Enough with the social embarrassment, already! This is something that should be whispered about, behind closed doors, perhaps, not shouted from the town square. This could be dealt with in furtive ways, much as a clerk ringing up purchases handles credit cards that are declined.

Imagine this scenario if it has never happened to you. The clerk leans over and with a look of chagrin on their face whispers, “Ummm, I’m sorry, but your card has been declined. Do you have another?” And then they assume a face as if really they are the ones to blame.

In this case, however, you can’t just gather your belongings and quietly leave the store. No, you have to brave the gauntlet of society with the equivalent of a dunce cap placed squarely on your brow, or a scarlet A emblazoned on your chest. Even felons, freshly rehabilitated back into society can disappear into relative anonymity and obscurity. There are a thousand ex-convicts all around you in any given moment, and you never knew it, did you? Bet you’ve seen me, haven’t you?

Yep, there he is, the bad man, the one to be shunned in all the best circles, the one to be looked at, pointed out, stripped bare by gossip, vivisected by every police officer. Or sheriff’s deputies, for that matter. These same folks all must simultaneously develop acute myopia as they make broad sweeping theatrical leans to thoroughly inspect the sign so as to shake their heads in bitter disgust.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk,” they say.

As if I didn’t feel shamed enough already.

Obviously, I’ve got a problem here. I’ve been thinking about solutions. I think moving to a state that doesn’t act this aggressively to it’s citizens is one solution. I’ve heard Alabama is one such state. Growing hair and beard out and becoming a hermit is probably becoming a viable solution. I’ve often thought of picking up horseback riding as a means of transportation. I’ve often liked the cowboy look.

Or maybe I should just fix the dang car.

NOEL LEWIS grew up in Carrsville and now resides in Zuni with his wife, Leah, and two boys, Milo and Stuart. Noel works at Newport News Shipyard and builds furniture out of reclaimed wood in his spare time.