I was asked to leave a shopping centre for wearing a hood

Canelands, Mackay. It's a shopping centre. Exactly like all the other ones. Ever.

Canelands, Mackay. It’s a shopping centre. Exactly like all the other ones. Ever.

Last week, I was asked to leave a shopping centre for wearing a hood.

Let me be more specific.

I was asked to leave the Canelands Shopping Centre in Mackay, Queensland, for wearing a penguin suit.

It’s a onesie and the hood was actually my beak, eyes and head.

So I’m a comedian, and for about an hour I’d been promoting this comedy and history walking tour I do, which also involves me using a megaphone to shout at strangers.

I'm not wearing a hood. That's clearly a beak.

I’m not wearing a hood. That’s clearly a beak, and eyes.

Then a woman from Lend Lease (centre management) told me, “You can’t wear hoods in the shopping centre.”

I replied, “Yes you can. Look at me, I’m doing it right now.”

“It’s against the rules. I can show you where it says so if you like?”

I didn’t know if this rule had been created to victimise people wearing hooded tops, certain religious groups, or both, and couldn’t think how to ask.

“No, I believe you,” I replied. “That a rule that stupid exists, but what about hats?”

“Hats are okay.”

“Well then, this is a hat.”

“No, it’s a hood,” she said.

“What about babies? In those little jumpsuits with hoods. Do you kick them out too?”

“Of course not.”

“So I’m a baby penguin,” I said.

She frowned. “No, you’re a grown man dressed a penguin. Which isn’t funny, but is very sad.”

Just before I left the centre I used my megaphone to yell, “Penguins are people too!”

Then added, “Equal rights for all the penguins. Despite their race, religion or sexual orientation!”

Xavier on a Pig_even smaller

Xavier the Penguin riding a pig – in happier times.

This article was first published on Bytestories:


Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian

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