If the cap fits?

Baseball cap line drawing

Image via Wikipedia

As those who have followed me on here will know; I usually have an opinion about our so-called ‘underclass’ in society but lately I have been wondering…

I have devoted a large portion of my life to youth work with The Scouts, Army Cadets, Youth Clubs, Outdoor Pursuits training and The Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, not to mention the numerous hours of charity fundraising for disadvantaged youth based charities. So, why do people usually have a tendency to develop a stereotypical perception of our youth?

The Americanism that is the Baseball cap, now somewhat de rigueur in youth culture, in many ways helps us to develop that negative image but why? In the USA you can’t identify someones individual social status or standing simply by the fact they are wearing a baseball cap.

Nearly everyone in the States wears one; male or female, young or old and from drifter to doctor or postman to President. The baseball cap ‘is’ America however due to its ubiquitous nature, it is also far more common across a wider section of our society in the UK today. It is seen not only on sportsmen like golfers but can now be seen as part of the uniform worn by various professions. Do we castigate postal workers or utility company staff because of their headgear?

The baseball cap is no longer the exclusive preserve of some spotty foul-mouthed youth. The kind we all expect to be swigging alcopops on a street corner, mumbling “wicked init” or shouting the odd explicative or three whilst spitting on the ground. The jaunty angle at which the cap is actually worn may sometimes provide you with clues to identifying the species underneath however, don’t bank on it and, don’t blame the baseball cap!

Often the blame for stereotypical classification sits squarely on the head of the person under the baseball cap itself, let me relay the following by way of example.

Late one evening whilst out walking my dog past the local lorry park, I was aware of a group of kids from some 200yds away. I was aware of them because of the noise and the foul language, most of it I have to say, emanating from girls. On walking in their direction I saw the cab door of a nearby lorry open, the driver poked his head out said something to the kids and then closed the door. At this time it was about 9.30pm and I assume, the lorry driver was probably asking them to keep the noise down a bit so he could sleep.

As I continued in their direction, the noise they were making obviously became louder, due in the main to proximity but also due to the fact they didn’t really care about keeping someone awake. That wasn’t their problem as, “they were there before the wagon” as I was shortly to find out. As I drew close I made some flippant and sarcastic remark along the lines of “lovely language for little ladies”. I received the standard, “what the fuck has it got to do with you”? 

I paused to chat with the kids (whilst waiting for the dog to catch up you understand). My thoughts being, perhaps I can challenge the thinking of these kids, perhaps I could get them to think differently about their actions. Perhaps if I could just help them to see, their actions and attitude often create the stereotypical attitude many adults have of them… I began; “have you ever wondered why adults always appear to be picking on you”? Immediately I realised I was on to a looser when I got the reply to my question; “what the fuck you on about mate?”

Never wishing to be beaten at a challenge I continued; “Firstly young lady, I’m not your ‘mate’ but that’s an aside, what I was meaning was; you’re obviously annoying the lorry driver who is trying to sleep”. She interjected in a raised and angry tone, “Yea? So? ‘s got fuck all to do with you, we was ‘er first any how”! Again I tried to continue; “he probably has to be up and on the road very early in the morning and… ” Another interruption was issued forth; “yea, so? His fcukin’ problem init”? I then tried to explain that being a nuisance or rude tends to rub people up the wrong way and, create a bad impression but it fell on stoney ground as she spat on the ground and turned her mp3 mobi up full blast…

Perhaps the lorry driver would be able to ‘explain’ to them in a more forceful manner later when they woke him up again? Probably what they actually deserve, seeing as they appear totally unable to take or understand advice. A worrying aspect of the situation however is; who will be the one actually in the crap after one of the youths gets thumped? Obviously the driver but is it not the youths who are actually at fault?

They may have been ‘there first’ however; it would be much easier for the kids to walk a few yards to a different park bench but no, I’m sure they expected the driver to maneuver his 32 tonnes of fully laden artic to a quieter area of the lorry park. After all, “why the fuck should I move?”

And you wonder (or perhaps you don’t and probably don’t even care) why…

“Adults always fink like, we is all the same. (Dummy note: that’s what stereotypical actually means). Why they is finkin’ most of us is like fick shits, wat give no fuck ’bout uvvers, we juss wanna ‘ave a giggle init an’ it aint non of your poxy buzyness. Wed caan do wot vee fuck we likes, wen we likes ‘n’ we aint givin’ a fuck wot yous fink. Liv wiv it bro!”

(Editors note: I thought I’d spell it out in language easily understood by teenagers – just in case there were any who actually had the ability to read this far)

It was actually you who created the stereotype in the first place so unfortunately you are the ones who will have to… ‘Liv wiv it’ bro!

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About Dave Hasney

National Coordinator for UK SMART Recovery - Previously a Recovery Worker and prior to that a Management Consultant and H&S Practitioner - Kept sane by Angling, Good Food, Real Ale & Wine - Cynical thoughts sometimes developed from others.

Posted on 22-09-2010, in Society Babble and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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