Interpretations:I Can Help The Next In Line

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Police brutality[edit]

I hear this as smart, sharp commentary on the notion that the police are there to "serve and protect"--it's been clear for a long time now that their service is not the customer service sort, and especially clear since the Ferguson protests erupted in August of last year. In theory, the cops are there to help, and they often complain about how much of their time is taken up with slow boring administrative work that doesn't feel very different from slow boring customer service work. But you don't expect a customer service agent to be armed with a lethal weapon and empowered to deal aggressively with someone just because they don't like that person's tone.

So yeah, the juxtaposition of "I can help" and "show me your ID" and "let's take this outside" feels weird and jarring, but that's the weird jarring juxaposition we live with every day in the form of law enforcement. TMBG is just putting it where it's easy to see. --Rosefox, 2015-04-27

The banalities of every day at work[edit]

I don't think this has anything to do with police. It's a retail customer service representative dealing with the banalities of every day at work. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:52, June 25, 2015


"Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual, and putting terror in every heart." -Justice Robert Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials, 1949

Many who have flown in the years following 9/11 has heard the lines in this song proudly stated by the employees of both the airlines and the federal government. When we step into the airports, we are no longer part of a customer service industry, but (and keeping this short to avoid it being a TSA rant) rather a world of unrestrained abuse that continues unfettered by our own inaction.

John Pistole, who heads the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), posted an op-ed in USA Today on August 17, 2012 in an attempt to shore up support for and justify the existence of his “behavior detection” program...

Pistole: “While deterrence is an important outcome of TSA’s security protocols and initiatives, it is also difficult to measure. But when security measures deter a would-be terrorist from attempting to carry out a planned attack, we have succeeded.”

In other words, “we know we haven’t found any terrorists, but please continue to allow us to violate the constitutional rights of travelers.” --

Yes, even at the time of this posting, reports of abuse by the agency is still published, still covered up, and worse, still accepted by the travelling nation as a whole. Posted by Trish24 • I may never fly again and I am serious thank you TSA. I was TSA prechecked but my hands got wanded and supposedly something showed up. My carryons were totally dumped out including my wallet. I was taken to a room for full pat down..breast, groin they reached inside my pants...degrading, humiliating and frightening..I am a 63 year old woman with high blood pressure they are lucky I didn't stroke out! As I tried o repack my carryons and tuck in my shirt I heard the agents state that I was the fifth false positive that morning and they knew the wand was defective. Not going back to RSA Fort Meyers!

Partial repost of a thread started at Reddit: ...She was required to be taken to private screening. Where she was told that she is officially "detained". She was told that her genitals had to be stroked several times as a more intensive pat down.

She requested a phone call and a lawyer, but it was denied. She asked for a police officer. The TSA officer said that all the requests and questions are considered threats. The police officer finally came and said she "didn't want to deal with bullshit" and told my wife she must either be patted down or go to jail. My wife was not allowed to leave the airport any other way. She finally submitted to the pat down. She asked what set of the scanner, but the TSA refused to give an answer.

So, if I may...I can help the next in line :) -Typical Bacchus 13:23, March 18, 2016‎

Customer service, with a twist[edit]

Well, those are certainly some...outlandish theories. I'm more in line with the second person, in that this is very much reflective of the drudgery of a customer service job. My later teenage years and early twenties were spent at Walgreens, where I got every manner of inquiry and personality coming up to my cash register. Thankfully, at that time, we didn't have the program with the little blue "balance rewards" card, so I didn't have to worry if the person had "been with us in the past", though I did have plenty of repeat customers. Sometimes I would have to call the manager, who would assist the person with their more complicated issue at another register while I "helped the next in line".

In my mind, it's easy to imagine the manager saying, "I am going to have to ask you now to take a walk with me" and "I will need to see ID", and even "Do we have a problem here?" and "If you would walk this way we'll settle this now". The only dark parts of the song are the lines about keeping your hands visible and watching your tone. Those deliberately out-of-place references are distinctly TMBG, putting this tale of a customer service debacle in a decidedly dark, twisted setting. Going back to my six-year Walgreens experience, there were a couple of times when someone tried to pull a fast one on us by trying to return something I know for a fact they didn't buy, because I saw them literally pick it up off the shelf just before coming to my register. So perhaps that kind of experience is where the darker portions come from. --MisterMe (talk) 08:48, 6 November 2017 (EST)

borrowing prhases[edit]

Like many TMBG songs, this one uses a lot of common prhases and idioms. Phrases that usually belong to a specific context, but in their songs, they like to apply them to different situations and therefore show us the links between the two. I believe this too is the case here. I hear two settings mixed in the song; the retail setting and the police stop-setting. Now they either use police prhases as a twist on customer service, or retail phrases to describe a police officer pulling someone over. I actually tend to go with the latter scenario. The sentence have you been with us before is the officer inquiring about any prior convictions. I am going to have to ask you know to take a walk with me is the officer's way or saying step out of the vehicle onto the curb or something. I think each time they sing I can help the next in line The officer moves on to a different stop/arrest. So each sentence is basically another civilian giving the officer trouble or having a bad attitude. As if it's just the default reaction and a part of the job for the officer in question. (Richards on Richards). 09:29, May 27, 2018‎