Accept me! Validate me!

I saw a guy on the tram home last night holding a large envelope against his chest that I assume was his, and had printed on it “PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL”. I have a feeling that holding this envelope made him feel incredibly important.

‘Look at me! I received mail that’s so important the sender had to ensure that only I was permitted to read it’.

I have often felt this craving for attention is the same reason people just love when their mobile phone goes off on public transport. Personally I always turn my phone to vibrate and 99% of the time I’ll ignore a call unless there is a pressing reason that I need to take it. And if I do answer the call I’ll near-whisper a short conversation to explain that I’ll call later or divulge some critical information that I may have for the caller.

But what’s with all this “HELLO?? HI!! I’M ON THE BUS! YEAH! OH LAST NIGHT WAS BRILLIANT!…”. And so on. Because that’s what people do. They carry on self-indulgent conversations in full earshot of a packed bus or train. They might as well be saying:

‘Look! Phone call! I have friends. I do stuff with my friends. I’m so accepted and validated!’

It’s self-expression in the same way that the Wall Street yuppie makes sure he accelerates hard in first gear in his flashy sports car or the whiny actress ensures that she’s showing more skin than anyone else at the movie premier. This sort of expression is not positive though, rather it is probably a reflection of low self-esteem. People who imagine that they are not valued in the eyes of others are going to take whatever opportunity they can to try and elevate themselves.

All it does is lead to poor social behaviour.

Think of other examples of people behaving in a way that makes them feel more ‘accepted’ – a boy-racer speeding or breaking a red light to impress his girlfriend in the passenger seat, young women having a string of sexual partners, a guy drinking 15 pints in a night and verbally incrementing for his adoring public. Now I’m no scientist, psychologist or psychiatrist, but to me this reeks of people’s desire to ‘achieve’ in the eyes of others or be seen as someone who does in fact have ‘a life’ (something we are told to ‘get’ at some point in our life by someone).

So back to our ‘phones in public places’ example. Next time your phone rings, have a bit of courtesy for those around you and bear in mind that no one cares to hear your conversation. Respect the public environment and remember that respect expected is directly proportional to respect reflected.

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A simple test – are you a road-moron?

I’m a big fan of road rage. This, of course, is the expression of exasperation at the complete and utter (a) ignorance, (b) inability and/or (c) stupidity, of other drivers on the road. The roads are full of them. It’s almost like it’s compulsory to be a complete tosser when behind the wheel of a car.

Myself and the girlfriend headed down to Ennis in the west of Ireland this weekend. The journey is a good 200km so it took 3-4 hours. Needless to say the number of morons taking up valuable oxygen could have filled Croke Park.

Here is a simple survey. Please take five minutes to fill it out. If you fall in to any of the below categories then consider yourself hated by me. With a passion.

Question 1:
The speed limit is 100km/h. The cars in front of you on the motorway are travelling at 100km/h. You pass them out. Why? Why are you passing out two cars, for example, that are going at the speed limit? While it is permissible to temporarily break the speed limit while passing out other cars (in order to assure safe passage to the correct lane again), I fail to see what the point of passing out two cars in this situation is. I mean you can only travel 100km/h yourself, right? Right? Oh no of course not. Because you’re such a moron, you think it is perfectly ok for you to floor the accelerator and take off out of sight at 120 or 140km/h. What’s the rush? Are your shoes on fire? Ignorant moron. I hope I pass you around the next bend with your car twisted around a lamppost.

Question 2:
There are multiple lanes on a motorway. As you cross from one to the other (with a purpose in mind, of course), you indicate to, um, ‘indicate’ that you are about to do so. Right? No, wrong. You don’t indicate because you were brought up with the manners of a parentless itinerant. You just slide the old car in to the next lane with the knowledge that everyone in the cars around you are all students of Derren Brown. We knew you were going to do that. We could tell from the way your irritating Buzz Lightyear dashboard attachment was nodding. Tosser.

Question 3:
Tailgaters. Now you dicks really get my goat. Believe me, you tailgate me, you’re gonna see me hit 30 in a 100 zone. Then I might hit 60 for a few seconds. Then maybe 20 again. Then you might get off my ass and use the rest of the damn road as God intended. Who do you think you are? You gonna intimidate me? You that impatient that you think sitting on someone’s rear wheels is the best way to behave? You reckon that causing a shadow over my car with your Range Rover is gonna make me quiver and reduce me to tears? Real big man, aren’t you?

Question 4:
The phone rings but of course it’s illegal to use a mobile phone when driving. So your average road user will ignore it or either quickly pick it up and say ‘call you back, I’m driving’. No. Drivers on Irish roads like to endanger their lives and the lives of others by refusing to purchase a mobile-phone car kit and instead ignorantly cruising along with one hand on the wheel and the other clutching a phone. They laugh, they cry, they take a corner with one hand, narrowly missing the woman with her buggy because they are not paying any attention. The law is clear – you don’t use your mobile when you’re driving. Who do you think you are? What gives you the right? I suppose it’s ok once you don’t get caught isn’t it? Total scum, that’s what you are. Total ignorant scum.

There’s more. People puffing cigarettes in their cars with their kids in the back seat. Selfish bastards. Attention-seeking idiots blaring out some pathetic dance music with their windows rolled down and shades perched ever so perfectly on their fat nose. And as for those souped-up engines and fluorescent chassis lighting? You people really are the lowest common denominator.

And they wonder why record numbers die on Irish roads? The powers that be need to get their finger out, get a few hundred traffic-cops cruising in unmarked cars and bring in severe penalties for these crimes. Zero tolerance is needed to save lives and it’s needed now. Fine them €500, or ban them for three, six, nine months. That’ll get people thinking about how they conduct themselves. Driving is not a right, it’s a privilege.

And they say I wouldn’t make a good leader of this country?

Economic Imbalance of the Barber Industry

As you might have gathered from the limited photo on this site, my hair is long. Ok it’s long in some places. I’ll be man enough to admit that maybe the fringe isn’t really as … how shall I put this … “existing”. But the rest of it is long and I like to think that if I did still have that full head of hair that it would be long too.

But the point of this entry is to tell you all about the economic imbalance that exists in the barber industry.

Today I got a fairly decent trim, took about forty minutes. The guy doing it took great care to ensure that my intricate instructions were followed to the letter – trim the sides, take an inch off the back, trim less from the fringe so the length looks more equal. So away he went, cutting and chopping, brushing and combing, looking every inch the consummate professional. He didn’t so much go at it hammer and tongs as went at it feather and flannel.

So at the end of the forty minutes, I was quite pleased. Looked good, keep Maria-Ana (the girlfriend) from threatening to cut it herself. How much did it cost me? Eighteen Euro. How much hair did I actually have removed? About four ounces I’d say. So I’m in fact paying for their time, not for the amount of hair they take off. Fair enough.

Therein lies the problem though. My mate Tom is on the opposite end of the scale to me. He has about half-an-inch of hair maximum, and when it’s time for a cut he just gets a blade all over. It takes about five minutes. How much? Eighteen euro. So what does the barber do to try and justify the outrageous cost? He aims to turns a simple head shave in to a mock up of the Sistine Chapel. So in the end, there’s thirty minutes of labour filler.

What’s the solution? The cost of a haircut needs to be a balance between time taken and hair removed.

If I go in with foot-long hair (think a hairy Italian sub) and order a head-shave, takes maybe ten minutes. The hair needs a good snip before they can take the razor to it but they don’t need to take care so it’ll probably be a ten minute job. Cost? About seven Euro.

Head shave of half an inch of hair? Five minutes. Cost? About three Euro.

Don’t get me started on bald men with just a bit of hair around their ears. They deserve to be paid for the ignominy of having a shiny head all their lives, poor bastards.

The Human Plight

The walk from my office to the tram home takes me through the city of Dublin. It’s not normally particularly pleasant but yesterday was “unpleasant-times-ten”.

I’m intolerant at the best of times – hate when people walk slowly in front of me, hate traffic, hate waiting three minutes for a tram (why can’t they just leave when I step on – would cheer me up no end). Yesterday I was experiencing the height of intolerance.

Like any major event, St Leprechaun Day tends to bring out the best and worst of people. On the positive side are the happy families and the good ‘naturedness’ of people in the main.

But on the negative side, societys dregs – drunk, loud, aggressive young men in large groups, intimidating people by their very presence. They scuttle along in their shiny tracksuits and stolen trainers, making sure everyone can hear their point of view – normally just some expletive-filled bs about some ‘bird’ they pulled the night before in a scum-laden nightclub that resembles ‘Fight Club’ by 3am.

I walked by a group of four toe-rags, one of them drinking beer from a plastic bottle, one of the girls shouting (‘knackers’, as we call them, always shout) about the schedule she has for taking her pills (these pills obviously are not a cure for poor elocution). In the same spot the previous week a fat bloke and his horrendous-looking missus were walking by me when he fixed me a stare and said ‘do you want a fight?’.

There’s only so much sympathy you can have for the human plight. My dad would say that these people behave in an anti-social way because ‘it is all they know’. But if I’m getting my face stitched up in A&E at 4am because one of these anti-social criminals thought I’ve looked at him funny, at what point do I stop sympathising? At what point do we, law-abiding and decent citizens, the ones who supplement many of these people’s existence through social welfare payments, say enough is enough?

I’m not under the illusion that the under-privileged are the only ones who behave in an anti-social way or commit crimes. There have been several cases of ‘rich kids’ going wrong too committing assaults or establishing crime gangs. But crime statistics from many countries will show that it is the under-privileged (whether it be division by ethnic class or social class) who are responsible for the large majority of violent or drug-related crime.

We have a large number of immigrants in Ireland. Over the last 5-10 years, many people have come from Southeast Asia and war-torn nations in North Africa and Eastern Europe to live in our country – many of them legally, many more illegally. Yesterday it was a pleasure to see so many non-nationals out enjoying themselves, decked in the “green, white and gold”, mixing with Irish people and lending a unique feel to the experience of St Patrick’s Day.

And as I walked through the city I came up with the idea of the largest ever human-exchange program. It would be like the one you had at school where you would spend three months in Paris one summer, followed by some French lad living with you the following year. Except on this Permanent Human Exchange Program, we would send our embarrassing, violent, drunken louts out to war zones in Darfur or Kosovo, in exchange for the innocent victims of the horrific campaigns in those respective countries. I have a feeling that it might be considered mutually beneficial.

St Leprechaun Day

Ever see that “Leprechaun” film? Well, ever see any of the six they made? A little Irish leprechaun fella (played by Warwick Davis – above) kills a fat bloke who stole his pot o’ gold. He then embarks on an emphatic, and frankly indiscriminate, killing spree that takes him to Vegas, outer space and, of course, The Hood. Twice.

They’re rubbish. But every time St Patricks Day comes around I always recall the movies. In particular there is a murder scene in one where he wishes a victim a ‘Happy St Patricks Day’ in the most comical and over-the-top Irish accent I’ve ever heard. It’s the sort of accent that has become the streotype for Irish people around the world, yet not one person in the country actually speaks like that. That’s not to say that the diminutive actor’s accent is not more convincing than Tom Cruise’s “Far and Away” shambles.

My point? It’s St Patrick’s Day and while this day last year I was flying back from Chicago after tasting the Irish festival through American eyes, this year I’m in work. Writing this diary up.

Where else could I make observations like “imdb.com promote themsevles as ‘Earth’s biggest movie database’. Are they concerned that somewhere in the untapped galaxy there is perhaps a bigger movie database that would ridicule any claim they might make to be the ‘Universe’s biggest movie database’?”.

You see? Lateral thinker, I ain’t.

So while Facebook will be my place for general social stuff, WordPress will be where I get all deep and meaningful. It’ll be a slow beginning but bear with me.

Now if you don’t mind, I’ve just been buoyed by the news that Hilary Swank is desperate for a baby.

Happy St Leprechaun Day.