Irrational irritations and another unnecessary issues (22/12/15)

Christ, it’s almost Christmas. Doesn’t really feel like it, if I’m to be perfectly honest. None of the usual stuff I’m used to on the other side of the world. It’s cold instead of hot. People are starting to talk about the upcoming Superbowl instead of the Boxing Day Test. Everybody’s eating Turkey, instead of chops, snags, seafood and all the other things that you toss on a barbecue. Everyone seems a lot more concerned about what Jesus would and would not approve of. I kinda feel like he wouldn’t approve of the narrow-minded view most of those people seem to think he’d have. Then again I come from a culture with a different perspective on the holiday.

Might actually snow on Christmas day. I’ve never had a white Christmas. That’d be pretty cool. Something that’s the same on this side of the ocean as it is on the other?

Christmas crowds. Fuckin’ nightmares, aye? I think the problem is that what happens around Christmas is you have thousands of people who don’t normally leave the house, or their very small circle of safe and comfortable spaces, suddenly forced to join the rest of society. And they just don’t have a bloody clue what they’re doing. It’s like how weekend rush hours are always so much difficult and frustrating than weekday rush hours, ’cause so many of the drivers only drive on saturdays and sundays so at the very least don’t have the etiquette down. And like weekend drivers, many Christmas shoppers cause unnecessary delays, slow down traffic and create bottlenecks.

Working hospitality you see a bit of it, and more. Lot of people are attending Christmas, holiday and end-of-year parties that don’t go out a whole lot. They aren’t used to not being dickheads towards staff, not understanding how bars and restaurants work and not understanding how to tip properly. I haven’t had to deal with it much but a lot of people I know have. And it’s annoying to hear. Because a lot of this shit should be common knowledge, but apparently isn’t. Ehhh. That’s life.

Anyway, that’s all I wanted to mention today. ‘Cause it’s the holidays and I’m feeling lazy. So I’ll be finishing by saying that if you’re joining a Christmas crowd and you aren’t quite sure what you’re doing, look for people who do and try and copy them. Might make life for the rest of us a little easier, so is worth a try. Do it for Jesus.

Anyway, happy Christmas or whichever holiday you happen to celebrate. The Hindu festival of Holi kicked off recently, and looks just beautiful. If you aren’t celebrating a particular holiday, have a great time anyway. Talk soon.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (8/12/2015)

So it’s December in Vancouver (and the rest of the world that uses the Gregorian Calendar for that matter) and apparently that means rain. Quite a bit of it in fact. Funnily enough I’d be willing to make the claim that it’s a bit similar in Australia, except the rain would be part of a tropical storm in the worst cases and a spectacular thunderstorm after a scorcher of a day in the best. Vancouver doesn’t seem to get thunderstorms. I miss them quite a lot. Ah well, not here to talk about thunderstorms. No, umbrellas are the topic today.

More accurately people who use umbrellas but have the spacial awareness of a three year old driving a ute (pick-up truck for my non-Aussie readers). Y’know, the kind of people who just don’t seem to give a shit exactly where they’re swinging their temporary shelters, and the potentially eye-taking spikes that hold the whole thing together, making you wish they handed out goggles (“they do nothing”) whenever you left cover and turning a walk down the street into a Matrix scene where you’re performing amazing contortions in order to avoid these people’s twirling hexagons of doom. In slow motion of course.

And getting past these people is no easy feat. Unsurprisingly the kind people who have no idea where their umbrellas are swinging are also the kind of people who have two speeds: so slow they couldn’t even get next door in any time-frame that could be referred to as “soon”; and stationary. So staying behind them is never an option for us busy, go-getting millennials. But try and overtake them at your peril, because they always seem to choose the moment you’re right beside them to suddenly veer towards you while laughing raucously, sending the sharpest point of the six or seven they’re carrying into your unprotected ear. Your poor, soft, fragile ear. The bastards.

And don’t expect it to be any safer when their umbrellas are down. No, that simply means there’s more power behind their thrust and swing. If it’s a long umbrella, probably gives them more reach as well. And since they’re not limited by the need to keep the thin synthetic membrane stretched across four to nine spears between them and the rain, they have much more freedom to include their umbrella in grand expressive movements that are a danger to everyone within two metres. No, you’re never safe from these people, not as long as they’re permitted to carry such deadly instruments.

Now, I know these aren’t bad people. Simply unaware. And some people have a valid excuse, they’re tired or sick or thought they were in fact carrying rather large novelty candy canes. But please, when you’ve got your umbrella up this season try and be a bit more aware of the people around you. Try not to stab anyone in their poor, fragile ears.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (24/11/15)

Evening all. Or afternoon. Or morning. Whatever time I post this/you read this. How we all doing? Bloody cold over here. Really bloody cold. Not as cold as a lot of other places in Canada, but still lower than what I’m used to.

So, something I’ve noticed as more and more people are wearing hats to stave off the cold, is the number of people who don’t take them off. Fedora, snapback, tuke (that’s “beanie” in Canadia, aren’t they kookie?), stetson, flatcap, whatever. People wearing hats will enter a restaurant, a bar, someone’s home, a police station, whatever, sit down at a dinner table, bar top, warm rug in front of the fire, interrogation table, whatever, and not remove whatever headgear they happen to be wearing. And this annoys me.

Like, when did this stop being impolite? Was this ever impolite? I was always taught that it was impolite to wear your hat at any indoor table. You sit down, you pull it off. Shit, you go indoors you pull it off. Sign of respect and all that. I’m not sure exactly why, probably something Biblically related (I wonder if a monk’s tonsure runs in the same vein) or to show weakness. “I have pulled off my helmet because I trust that you will not bash my skull in while we are having tea” or something. Maybe it was an insult if you left your hat on, like saying “you can’t even heat your fucking castle properly so I have to keep my hat on, you pathetic excuse for a host. And the tea fucking sucked! I asked for Earl Grey, not Green! That is a completely different type of tea!” I really should search for the origins of taking your hat off indoors. Point is though that I was taught that if you aren’t eating or drinking or discussing the political ramifications of whether or not Her Majesty’s heirs are tea or coffee drinkers over a beer outside, in the blazing Australian sun (that’s about to turn into a blazing Australian thunderstorm), then you take off your goddamn hat. Allowances are also made for when you’ve been skiing for hours and it’s almost as cold inside as out.

But people don’t do that. They leave their hats on. At first I thought to myself that this was a Canadian thing. But then I trawled through my memories and realised that, no, I’ve known plenty of Aussies and others who left their hats on when they shouldn’t have. I’ve just noticed it more often now that I’m working in an industry where I see dozens of people sitting down to eat a day. And I’ve realised that people don’t take their hats off.

Maybe I was just taught wrong. Maybe I’m a focusing to hard on an Anglo-Judeo-Christian perspective on manners. But you know what, I’m still gonna pull my fucking hat off. Because it’s polite. Am I fuckin’ right, or am I fuckin’ right?

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (10/11/2015)

God I’m sick of hockey. A bit surprised I’m saying that. But I am. I’m sick of hockey. It feels good to say that, and I’ve been saying it a lot. Funnily enough, I’ve found a lot of Canadians (the maddest of the hockey-mad) actually agree with me on this.

Why am I sick of hockey? Why are we sick of hockey? Because it is on all. The fucking. Time. I mean seriously, even in the off-season Canadian sports news is dominated by the hockey. They talk about the upcoming draft season, changes to coaches and managers, replay “classic” games and, going by one muted exchange I tried to interpret while having a beer at a bar in Gastown, what brand of underwear one particularly bearded player wore beneath his uniform (it was an unusual sequence of images). Then there’s the draft, and that’s all anyone gives a shit about for a couple of weeks (especially as far too many people for my liking begin to construct fantasy teams). Then there’s the pre-season, which is where a bunch of the new players try to prove themselves by playing extra hard while the old players try to avoid injury by playing extra carefully. Then the season proper starts, which is about a month old about now, and that’ll go until the Stanley cup finals in, like, fucking May.

It goes from the middle of autumn to the beginning of summer. Then you get maybe two months where they’re just talking about the upcoming season and replaying old games and greatest hits, then the draft begins again.

The thing that gets me though, the thing that really gets me, is just how many games are on. Seriously, check out the NHL schedule for the regular season. There is a game, usually more than one, sometimes more than a half dozen, every fucking day except for a couple around Christmas and the like.

I was out the other night, having a drink at one of my usual spots. And the hockey was on, a couple of knots of people watching as the Canucks were being beaten by a team called the Penguins (I can’t help but feel like naming a team playing an exclusively Northern Hemisphere sport after an exclusively Southern Hemisphere type of bird is a little ridiculous). I asked the bartender if it’d cause a riot to change one of the TVs over to the cricket (Australia was spanking New Zealand in the first test at the time). She nodded seriously and said “probably.”

The game cut to commercial, then cut back with one of those… infographics I think they’re called? Just graphics? Anyway, bright red letters flew across the screen proclaiming “WEDNESDAY NIGHT HOCKEY” and I just began to crack up. Do they do that for every game? There was hockey on Tuesday, there’d be hockey on Sunday, there’d be hockey on Thursday, there’s hockey on every day. Did the person in charge of the graphics ever get it wrong? Did they ever forget to change it or had “[Insert weekday here] NIGHT HOCKEY” flashed up on people’s televisions by accident? So many questions, none of them I have any interest in learning the answers to.

Now I understand sports fandom. I’m an Aussie. We get it. And I’d guess that other countries have just as much of a problem with football (soccer). Shit, I’ve known a few people to care just a little too much about the Rugby League or AFL. But even the most diehard Rabbitohs fans would start to get bored if their team was playing every two or three days. Yes, even Russell Crowe. There’s just such an oversaturation of hockey that it’s become boring.

So yeah, I’m sick of hockey. And that’s a shame because, while I never developed any emotional investment in who wins or loses, I enjoyed watching the barely controlled chaos and violence.

And, hell, maybe if they actually paid proper attention to some other sports they might be able to field a decent rugby team.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (27/10/2015)

G’afternoon everyone. Getting right into today’s topic I’d like to talk about bagels. I bloody love bagels, those dense doughnut-shaped buns that form part of a balanced breakfast for millions of people everyday. Wonderful things. My basic breakfast consists of eggs, cheese, tabasco sauce and, of course, a bagel. But that’s really only since I moved to North America.

They’re not a huge thing in Australia. I mean, they’re around, you can definitely buy them. It wouldn’t be that hard to find a cafe that sells breakfast bagels filled with ham and cheese or other time-of-day appropriate fillings. But they’re not common like they are up here in Canada and the USA. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course. I haven’t seen the kind of variety in Canadian breads that I’d expect in an Australian bakery or supermarket. Like I don’t see focaccia or pita or Lebanese bread (fuck I miss really good Lebanese bread). And you’re probably more likely to find crumpets or (ahem) ‘English’ muffins on an Aussie table. But we don’t have a lot of bagels back home. And bagels are awesome. I just ate one before coming here to write this. It was delicious.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that when I go home, eventually, in like a year or something, I’m gonna have to find a new source of bagels. They’ve been one of the best parts of moving to Canada, and I don’t think I’ll be able to give them up. Complain as I might about North American domestic beers and the lack of good Thai and Indian restaurants around, well, I can’t complain about their bread choices. Because bagels are amazing. Think I might go eat another in a moment.

So not so much an irritation today (though it might turn into that if I travel somewhere else and there aren’t any bagels), but that’s why we have the other part of the title. Tried to think of something Halloween related to talk about (I carved a pumpkin last night!) but couldn’t. So just think about how terrifying a world without bagels would be.

I fucking love bagels.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (13/10/15)

Hey guys, welcome back for another week of Irrational Irritations, the first on our new fortnightly timetable. Did you miss them? Of course you did. Let’s begin with a quick shoutout to my Canadian homies who’ve just had their Thanksgiving long weekend. It was fun and I’ve learnt that pumpkin pie does in fact hold its own as a legitimate dessert option. Then we’ll follow that up with today’s topic: recommending bars and restaurants to people who turn out to be tight-arses.

It comes with the territory of working in the hospitality industry. People are out and about, putting the present in the past and planning for the future (paying their bill and deciding where to go next). Often enough they’ll turn to me and ask without any of Nicki Minaj’s righteous (and justified) fury, “What’s good?”

Well I’m half a hipster, young, charming and lightly bearded, so I tend to get out and about to some pretty decent watering holes. And I’ll tell people where my favourite places to go are and what you’ll get there (best cocktails are at… if you just want a beer… for more of a clubbing scene…) while I’m clearing their plates and glasses, dropping off their bill or collecting their payment. Not surprising since those are the times when I have longest to answer their questions.

Now, more often than not I feel pretty good about the whole situation. I’m sending customers towards people I like and who appreciate that I’ll recommend someone their way when asked. That’s great. Every so often, however, every so often when I look at the size of the tip left by these customers, well I regret it. Because I’ve sent someone who thinks that a zero to five percent tip is appropriate at a North American bar or restaurant towards people I like who also rely upon the generosity of customers to, y’know, pay their rent.

And that leaves me feeling guilty for recommending so many places. So, if you’re not gonna tip properly, don’t ask the bartender or server for recommendations. Because you’re making us feel like arseholes as well.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (29/9/15)

Before I begin this week’s topic I’d like to let you know that I’m switching Irrational Irritations to fortnightly instead of weekly. I’m trying to develop a more regular schedule for the blog, and as much as I enjoy writing these little posts up I’m finding they’re taking up time I could be spending on other posts and the odd sketch (I haven’t added a drawing to a post in a while). So yeah, next post is in a fortnight. Provided I remember. Not the best at remembering, am I? But I should.

Anyway, this week is people who block escalators.

We’ve all been there. Running late for work or a train or a court date, bounding onto an escalator to give our loping* stride a bit of extra speed without needing to become any sweatier (don’t wanna give those jurors the wrong impression, do we?) but then we get halfway up and there they are. The bastards. Sometimes one of them spread-eagled between the moving rubbing railings like they’re life’s goal is to become a ticket booth. Sometimes its a couple or more, side by side, chatting about something inane and leaving just enough of a gap to make you think you can get through, only to stick out a leg at the last moment and force you to come to a halt, lest you trip and fall upon the jagged travelling steps and join the alarming number of Chinese people killed by escalators. And you say “excuse me” and “can I get through” and occasionally add a please on to the end, ’cause you’re a nice person and like to be polite, but they just ignore you or block you out. So you stand there for the extra thirty seconds it takes to get to the top/bottom. Thirty seconds you could have spent hearing the last of the morning meeting, catching that train, or hearing the opening statements from your defence. Missed now, because of this arsehole in front of you.

Now, not everyone who blocks the escalator is doing something wrong of course. You get people who’ve been shopping, maybe bought a new TV or something that comes in a box four times its size, and try as they might they just can’t shift this fucking thing far enough to the side where other people can pass by safely. Or you get parents with their children strung out around them, keeping a close eye on their young since what kid doesn’t love being an idiot on an escalator (they’re moving stairs for Spongebob’s sake, if that ain’t witchcraft I don’t know what is). That’s cool random parent, you keeping your kids safe and under control is more important than me getting to the top/bottom slightly faster. And I’m sure that juries like me better when I don’t trample children on my way to see them.

But everyone else, stick to the left/right (whatever side is appropriate in your country of residence) and let the faster people pass.

I’ll talk to you guys soon. And remember, don’t be an arsehole.

*I don’t find opportunities to use the word ‘loping’ very often. Let me have this, okay?

Irrational Irritations and other unnecessary issues (22/9/15)

Porridge today Gromit! Tuesday… wait no. Profanity-laced complaints over things that I really have no control over and probably no real right to whine about today! Tuesday. Today I’d like to vent a little about the bloody weatherman.

Specifically whatever weatherman is feeding information to my iPhone. ‘Cause he/she/they keeps getting it really fuckin’ wrong. Like really ridiculously wrong. Like I-could-look-out-the-window-and-give-a-better-forecast-for-the-rest-of-the-week-no-seriously-I-think-that’s-what-they’re-doing-but-in-a-different-city wrong.

I mean, it should have been raining all week but here we are during that week and the sky is clear save for some runty white clouds that don’t seem to want to stick around. Where’s my rain random person foretelling the weather? Where’s my goddamn rain?

Aside from the usual annoyance that comes from not knowing what to wear (do I bring a jumper? do I bring something waterproof? will it, won’t it? if it doesn’t I’m gonna be stuck with the extra weight and baggage and I’ll probably be even sweatier than normal and why must I even wear t-shirts to work?) it’s also making it harder to gauge whether or not it’s going to be busy or quiet day/night at work.

Now, some of you might be asking why “I don’t just download a more reliable weather app or check more accurate sources?” Shut up, that’s why. I have an app provided by the people who make my phone already on my phone, it is reasonable for me to expect it to work. Then again, these are the same people who developed Apple Maps, so maybe I shouldn’t expect to much.

Alright, talk soon guys. Unless the weatherman forgets to inform us about an upcoming blizzard or something.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (15/9/15)

It is Tuesday once again and that means another we get to hear me whine about something that has no real effect on my life or others. This week people who send their drinks back.

“Back to where?” you might be asking, somewhat stupidly. “To wherever they were made!” I am answering, also somewhat stupidly but with much more flourish. In my case it would be the bar, but this could also be the barista, the juice-machine technician or the fitness-conscious neighbour you’re visiting who looks alarmingly good in lycra and really didn’t have to offer to make you a mango-strawberry protein smoothie but did and you accepted anyway so it really would be exceptionally rude for you to complain about it now (besides, don’t you wish you looked that good in lycra? those smoothies must do help). My experience is with drinks being sent back to the bar.

It doesn’t happen all that often. Tends to surprise people I tell that it happens at all, in fact. But it does happen. This beer is too sweet. This whiskey sour isn’t sour enough. This Caesar is too spicy (a Canadian drink that will probably be a later topic). I didn’t know that mojitos had mint in them. Plenty of reasons, few of them good in my humble opinion. But that might be because I hold people to my unreasonable standards, cause I don’t send drinks back. I might bitch and moan about how Budweiser is weak-arse fermented cat piss, but if for whatever reason I find myself in possession of a bottle of it (usually ’cause the person shouting this round DOESN’T KNOW ME AT ALL DAMNIT!) then I am gonna drink the bastard. A few months back I ordered a whiskey sour, hold the bitters. The bartender misheard me (I have a funny accent round these parts) and thought I said “all the bitters”, so she bittered it up. Of course I drank it anyway. Because you don’t waste goddamn alcohol. You get it, you drink it, you order something better next time.

It’s just good manners people.

Not to mention it breaks my Aussie heart to collect unfinished drinks. Don’t break my Aussie heart, you cold-hearted bastard. Finish your bloody beer.

Irrational irritations and other unnecessary issues (8/9/15)

Yo. Here we are, on time. This week’s topic: overt displays of affection by couples in queues. Let’s get right into it, like these couples get right into each other. Alright, that was a bloody atrocious attempt at a play on words I admit. But don’t you judge me. Writing is hard. Like a bloke feeling up his lady-friend in a line buying movie tickets. Heh, that was better.

Something that I’d like to make very clear is that I don’t necessarily have an issue with public displays of affection. If you wanna dry-hump your partner with your tongue three quarters of the way to triggering their gag reflex, then that is quite alright. But pick an appropriate time and place to do it, like on the grass at a park beneath a warm sun or in the corner of a dingy pub beneath the energy efficient lighting installed so long ago it’s now just lighting that takes two minutes to switch on. Waiting in line at the M&M store, however, is not.

I’m also not (usually) one of those “think of the children” people. No, in this case I’m more “Oh god the couple in front of me are sucking face a half foot from my face and I can’t move back because the queue’s too crowded and I keep trying to look away but then they make a weird noise and I’m back to staring at them and this is getting really uncomfortable is it just because they’re incapable of talking to each other that’s not a sign of a healthy relationship if they can’t and shit he’s just made another weird noise what the hell is wrong with these folks for the love of god will the person in front please hurry up they’re still going at it” kind of people.

Now, admittedly I might just be jealous. I probably am a little. After all, who enjoys knowing that random strangers are getting some when we’re not. But I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one who starts feeling awkward and uncomfortable when two or more people decide that the best way to handle being stuck in a crowd of tightly packed strangers is to start necking each other.

I’m not telling you to get a room, just wait until you’ve got more than two feet of space. Think of the children or something.