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 (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.

Remembering what this day is about

Yesterday was the 11th of November, Remembrance Day, where much of the world spends a solemn, silent minute recalling what a bloody useless waste of life The Great War was and tries to promise never to do that again. Hopefully one day it’ll hold. Lest we forget.

If you’ll allow it I’d like to quickly rant about all the people who seem to assume that generalised portions of the population (particularly my fellow Generation Y’ers) need to be reminded. I notice these people popping up in various media outlets (particularly radio and the more tabloid-y newspapers) every Remembrance Day and ANZAC Day (I’m sure it happens with other country’s nationally specific memorial holidays as well). Baby boomers and older Gen X’ers (I can generalise as well) who lament how little today’s youth know about our brave boys (sometimes they remember the girls too) who have worn and died for our great nation’s flag. They pipe up and mourn the lack of education kids receive these days on Gallipoli, perhaps make some pithy and faux-wise statement about the lessons of mateship and determination that can be drawn from the mythology. Words like ‘the ANZAC spirit’ get thrown about, making it sound more like a holiday special than the bloody failure of a campaign costing thousands of Aussie and Kiwi (and even more British) lives that it was (but hey, at least it gave us Mel Gibson).

I normally manage to ignore most of this, but every so often I see, hear or read something small that gets on my nerves. A year or two ago it was someone complaining on the radio about how the people who decide the national curriculum wanted to reduce the time spent studying Gallipoli in history (because they felt not enough time was being spent on the rest of the Great War we participated in, the ivory tower-living bastards!). This year, on Monday, it was someone else on the radio.

“I want to request a song,” the voice of a middle-aged woman chirped from the speakers at work, “and remind everyone that tomorrow is Remembrance Day. It’s particularly special to me, because I had relatives that served in the wars.”

Really? I felt like shouting at the radio, You think that people need to be reminded that tomorrow is Remembrance Day? Like a teacher reminding her pupils that tomorrow’s art day so they better bring their coloured pencils. People might not care about Remembrance day, I’m not so optimistic about my generation that I believe everybody does, but they certainly know what goddamn day it is. It’s one of those pervasive cultural nails hammered into us from an early age, like Christmas is on the 25th of December.

Then there’s the justification for the arrogance, that she had relatives that served. Y’know, just like everybody else. Seriously, these were called World Wars for a reason. The first one may have primarily involved Anglo-Europeans, but I had a great grandfather from the Middle Eastern half of my family that fought in British khaki during and in between both World Wars. Given the number of conflicts that have occurred since (Australia participated in the Korean, Vietnam and both Gulf Wars as well as many peacekeeping operations and the Malayan Emergency) and the number of immigrants from former and ongoing warzones, chances are everyone’s had family that have a worn one uniform or another. I suppose no one else cares?

I know this seems to be a pretty trivial thing to be pissed off at, and not in keeping with what the day is supposed to be about, but I get pissed off anyway. It just strikes me a whole lot of ‘look at me and how much I care!’ self-centred attention-seeking that trivialises what we’re supposed to be honouring. It assumes by default that no one else cares and that’s just not true, especially considering that with an ongoing deployment in Afghanistan and a re-deployment in Iraq to ‘assist’ the local army and militias in their fight against Islamic State, we have very recent war dead, very recent widows, very recent grieving families, and the very distinct possibility of more.

We don’t need to be reminded what day it is and what it’s about, because I doubt very much we’ll forget.