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.
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 Toby is a writer and comedian
Email me if you dare: firstname.lastname@example.org