Oh, my blogs have suffered. Suffered, they have! This is because I have been v.v.busy with my novel [yawns nonchalantly], which I have now completed the first draft of and am currently taking a break from before I steam in and edit like a bastard.
So, the blogs, they are back. And now I’m going to repeat myself, as I so often do in the real world. What I want to talk to you about is numpties. Some of you long-standing readers… well, reader*… may remember that, several years ago, I wrote a blog post about numpties and why they get on my tits – I made some good points and offered advice on how one should act when out and about in public. Unfortunately, I didn’t actually seem to get through to a single numpty, and they’re all out there getting right up my nose as usual.
This re-blog has been born of a single incident, which happened earlier this week, and which left me reeling somewhat: I was kicked. I was kicked hard. I was kicked hard by a girl who was walking towards me whilst I was walking in a straight line – I knew that she was there because I could see her out of the corner of my eye. As said girl approached, I also realised, because I have these amazing things called peripherals and I know how to use them (unlike most people, it would seem), that I was walking fast enough for her to safely walk behind me several feet away. So, imagine my surprise when I felt something hard and cold hit the delicate bones across the top of my left foot – I was wearing five inch heels at the time, which meant that my left foot was swept from under me and the stiletto hit the top of my right foot removing a good chunk of skin and laddering my beautiful seamed stockings. I tottered, but managed to keep my balance. There was a pause as I considered what had just happened and quite how. Then I realised that this person had, surely, kicked me on purpose. There was no way around it. I straightened from my stopping-myself-from-falling-but-still-looking-like-a-prat stoop and turned, only to find that the girl in question was eyeballing me with a look of abject hatred plastered across her miserable face. Then she was gone, vanished into the warmth of Pret a Manger on Commercial Street. Feeling slightly stupid to be goggling at a sandwich shop with a “what the fuck” look on my face, I began to walk, slower this time, as thoughts whirled around my head. Why would someone deliberately go out of their way to kick me? The only rational reason I could come up with was that the lady in question was actually the ex-wife of my ex-partner. I had only seen this girl’s face for a second, but she had the same colouring, and I never actually met my ex-partner’s ex-wife, so I only have memories of photos I saw ages ago to go on; she’s not someone who ever crosses my mind any more either, so it really could have been her. The thought rallied me somewhat: at least there was a rationale behind the act, albeit a rather childish and flawed one.
So I e-mailed the ex when I got back to my desk:
From: Emily Dewsnap
Sent: 22 October 2012 13:53
To: The Ex
Subject: Quick Q.
How are you?
This may sound like a bizarre question, but is your ex-wife in Leeds?
Telephone +44 (0)113 123 4567
On That Road
Fax +44 (0)113 123 4567
Please consider the environment before printing this email
From: The Ex
Sent: 23 October 2012 14:00
To: Emily Dewsnap
Subject: RE: Quick Q.
All good with me apart from a bloody migraine!
How’s life with you?
I’m not aware of my ex-wife being in Leeds. Have you seen her?
I may have changed some details, but not the essence. This disturbed me. Chances are that this wasn’t the ex-wife. So, someone in Leeds, who I don’t know, maliciously, and with intent to kill** tripped me in the street for absolutely no reason. We are obviously dealing with a whole new breed of fuckwit!
Now, had I been thinking clearly, I would have stomped into Pret, located the girl and asked: “What in the name of holy shit was that in aid of?” but I didn’t. I went back to my desk and sulked, like every normal twenty nine year old. Shoulda woulda coulda – hindsight’s a bitch.
but this isn’t blog fini – no no; I am just getting started. Because I am so sick and tiredof having to navigate around arseholes and yet still being on the receiving end of so much venom.
Not so long ago, I realised that when someone crashes rudely into me and I apologise, they don’t apologise back. Being English, the word “sorry” can have various meanings in my vocabulary. When someone crashes impolitely into me, my urge to smile and apologise has nothing to do with my lamenting the fact that I was in their way when they were too bone idle to look where they were going, and has everything to do with the fact that this was possibly an accident that everyone has engendered at some point in their lives; the breathy, friendly “sorry” I emit in these circumstances is merely a way of saying: “That was silly, but don’t worry about it – I’m ready to hear your apology and then we can both get on with whatever task it was that caused me to be in the place you wanted to be in and caused you to not check that that place wasn’t occupied before you blundered into it.”
I think it was after I roared: “I think you mean sorry, yes?!” to a random man who had pushed me off the pavement into the path of a speeding bus because he hadn’t been bothered to move over on the otherwise empty pavement to walk around me, that I realised the apology on my part was pointless. From this particular man, I was expecting the reaction I would have given (not that pushing people is the sort of thing I routinely do) had I managed to not notice that I was pushing someone into the road and then not noticed that the person had spoken to me the first time – if it had been me, I’d have blustered a bit, gone pink in the face with shame and said: “Oh, I’m so sorry. Honestly, I was miles away. Are you ok?” What he actually did was turn round, flash me a derisive look and flick me the Vs. Yep – he SWORE at me!
So, I no longer apologise when people crash into me. I just look them dead in the eye*** and wait for my apology. And it never comes. What the hell is wrong with people?
I commute to work on foot. It’s a three mile walk from my door to the office and I do it in thirty to thirty-five minutes, which should give you an idea of how fast I walk. Every single day, I encounter the same problem (sometimes with the same people): I walk down the edge of the pavement so that if anyone wants to get past, they can do, and so that if I need to get past anyone, I’m politely on the outside of them, shielding them from traffic, not slipping up the inside and making them feel like I’m on the verge of launching them into the road. If I spy someone up ahead who is also walking on the outer edge of the pavement, I move to the inside as soon as I see them. The problem with this is that other people don’t seem to look. Ever. I can change from one side of the pavement and back again numerous times as the person zigzags towards me and still not be noticed until the v.last second. In this v.last second, whether the person has weaved around on the pavement on their journey towards me or not, the other walker will, inevitably, decide that they want to be on the side of the pavement that I’m on and then glare at me for being in their way. WHAT is wrong with people?
The other regular occurrence is when a group of people walking towards me notice me and then eyeball me confrontationally until the point where they reach me. I will then be ejected from the pavement whilst members of said group of people glower at me like I’ve just shat in their breakfasts. Again: what is WRONG with people? They seem to get this right with lampposts, though. In fact, anything that isn’t me, the fuckwits walk around. In both of those scenarios I have just presented, there is no way those people wouldn’t have moved if I had been a lamppost. Although walking into me is probably less painful than walking into a lamppost on account of all the padding, I am still v.much a solid object. And a solid object that’s going to get rather cross if I’m pushed into the road into oncoming traffic.
Poverty Wagon Fuckwits
Then there are the bus zombies who spill out over the pavement near the bus stops and don’t appear to see you or give a flying fuck that they’ve completely blocked the way for any passersby, simply because they can’t be arsed, or are too bloody thick, to stand in a neat line. Bizarrely, people waiting at bus stops seem to also be stone deaf, which means that issuing a courteous “excuse me” will just get you stared at. Perhaps the mere courteousness itself is what baffles this particular fuckwit. Barging through everyone is the only option, although, woe-betide anyone who encounters a gaggle of fuckwits attempting to board a bus; no matter how obvious it is that
you have no desire to get on their bus, the fuckwits will still think that if they let you through, you will queue jump for the hell of it, and the only option is to wait until every last one has gone before you can even contemplate restarting your journey.
Poverty wagon fuckwits can get you in two ways. The other is when you’re approaching one who’s standing at the back edge of the pavement waiting for a bus. It is a guarantee that if you are running or walking towards them, they will wait until you are almost upon them before they stick their hand out and leap to the edge of the pavement. Even if the bus isn’t actually coming, you can see them shuffling their feet in anticipation. Presumably, they think that the brisk pace you’re keeping will dissipate as soon as you reach them and that you’re goal is to stand directly in from of them, thus preventing them from flagging down their bus.
Supermarket Zombie Fuckwits
I hate food shopping. I thoroughly detest it. I don’t mean nice food shopping; I don’t mean the sort of shopping that involves stalls of handmade cheeses and home cured meats, handcrafted wines and piles of olives, honey made by real beekeepers and fudge so sweet it takes the roof of your mouth off. I’m talking about the mundane supermarket sweep. I never do a weekly shop; I take little trips during the week to the market, which is enjoyable, and Morrisons, which isn’t. There is a special kind of stupid that encompasses Morrisons shoppers. Because I grab bits and pieces here and there, I never need a trolley and just want to dash in and out as quickly as I can. But I can’t dash anywhere in Morrisons, because there are people who have trolleys and clearly haven’t a clue how to drive them, so they temporarily abandon them to lie right across isles whilst they stare blankly at two versions of the same product, bewilderment clouding their already dense-looking faces. If you attempt to move the trolleys to get past, however, they leap at you like you’ve just tried to actively mug them in broad daylight.
The other thing that happens with trolleys is that, if the trolley driver wants to go first, they will just do it without looking to see if there is room, or to check that they aren’t getting in anyone’s way. I have stood, on many an occasion, trapped in an aisle whilst people drift slowly by in a daze, goggling in amazement at the wondrous display of commercialism that adorns the shelves, completely oblivious to my fractious presence. I stand quietly and wait until I can escape, for which I receive no thanks, although I do occasionally get a funny look, which is nice. How do these people cope with each other? The only person they seem to have a problem with is me and all I want to do is get as far away from them and their mind-boggling stupidity as is humanly possible.
Fuckwits with Sproggers
Children are flighty little fuckers. They run and pretend to be aeroplanes and hide in super-small places and slip through the grasp of adults like quicksilver. I tell you what, though – if I had ever behaved the way some of the children I encounter behave, the mater would have had my guts for garters. Well, maybe not quite, but if people were walking towards us on the pavement, she would always bark: “Single file, Em’!” and I’d be thrust in front of her to make way. If I had ever run into an adult’s legs as a child, she would have called me back and made me apologise. She taught me to pay attention to what was going on around me so that I would always be gracious. Why the fuck can’t other parents manage this? The amount of sprogs who have rammed into me, smacked me with light sabres, shut doors on me, sprayed me with fizzy pop, screamed down my ears is unbelievable. I don’t look to the child for an apology – I’m not that sanguine – instead I look at the offending sprogger’s owner. But like all other fuckwits, they look at me with enormous distaste, as if I am clearly just attempting to touch their child, in true Jimmy Saville stylee, by deigning to be in its warpath.
I worked briefly at New Look (which was a thoroughly soul-destroying experience in itself) in Wakefield and was once treated to a loud barrage of swearing by a woman who was attempting to make her three v.bored, screaming children shut the fuck up while she did her shopping. All of them were face down on the floor banging their feet and shrieking like foxes in heat and, eventually, she turned to me and said: “You know, people look at you like you’re shit. They look at you like your kids’ behaviour is your own fault.” After this appalling statement, she whipped the two smaller children off the floor, scooped one under her arm, took the other by the hand and with the free hand grasped the ankle of the remaining child’s leg before flouncing out in a cloud of noise.
The train station at Leeds is the bane of my life. Never has a city centre railway station been so poorly designed. The boards that announce the train times are straight after the barrier onto the platforms, meaning that if I need to run for a train I can’t, because once through the barriers, everyone halts in their tracks to read the board and thus obstruct the path of anyone in a rush.
And that’s another thing! What’s with the barriers at Leeds train station? They are the slowest, most unreliable, most ineffectual barriers I’ve ever come across. People from London who visit must think that those barriers are some sort of practical joke. Can you imagine the outrage if the ticket barriers in London took twenty seconds to creep open? And I don’t even want to think about the resulting bile that would ensue if fifty percent of the time, the barriers regurgitated the ticket that someone had just slotted in and remained steadfastly closed. Of course, it doesn’t help that a frightening amount of people get to the ticket machine, then search for their ticket and, once ticket has been located, stare at it, then at the machine as if wondering what the deuce it’s all about, until with painful sluggishness they attempt to put their ticket into the ticket sized slot, just in case that’s what it’s for. When the doors open, theses types appear to be so surprised that they are frozen to the spot for an inordinate amount of time before exiting the platform.
It’s the pre 9am-ers that really get me, though. I think we can all agree that the majority of people travelling at that time in the morning are heading for work. So why are they all so slow? I wouldn’t mind so much if the train reached the station with plenty of time to spare – I could understand if the train I chose to board in the morning was even just the one before the one I actually catch if, for whatever reason, I choose not to walk in. But I’m not known for my timekeeping and I go for a train that gets me into Leeds for around 8:53am, which means that I need to hotfoot it to get in for 9am on the dot. Except that I can’t. Unless I manage to leap off the train before anyone else and get away, I get stuck behind a huge gaggle of meandering fucks who walk at snail’s pace. Despite the fact that they all adopt the same snail’s pace, they still manage to spread across the entire width of the platform, meaning that I can’t pass them. If I do manage to pass them, I am generally thrown a dirty look. If I try to pass them on the platform edge, I end up being nearly catapulted onto the track (with the customary dirty look, of course). I mean, what are these people doing? They’re going to work and, presumably, they want to be on time. You would have to work at the station to be on time at that pace. But even if these people are unable to walk any faster, must they really occupy the entire platform? They’re wide platforms – you wouldn’t even have to go single file!
And don’t even get me started on the wankers who put their bags on seats on trains so that nobody can sit next to them. Nobody wants to sit next to anyone they don’t know, but, unfortunately, trains aren’t long enough to accommodate a single seat per commuter and I will be damned if I’m standing because you’re a selfish twat!
Numpties at the Lights
Anyone who’s ever been to Leeds and tried to cross the road at the front of the station will know that the green man at the crossing is always a long time coming (he’s a meandering fuck of a green man), and the rush hour traffic is usually coming so thick and fast, and with such aggression, that to dive across before the appearance of the green man is tantamount to suicide. And yet, every morning, there is a group of people who stand at the lights and don’t press the button. Because they’re fucking stupid! There is no other explanation.
With city centres being as busy as they are, especially at lunchtime during the week, everyone should have their wits about them. I particularly hate it when I’m walking past a shop and someone emerges from it right into me. I really don’t see how this is my fault. This is possibly the reason that there are so many ridiculously bad drivers on the road – if you can’t be bothered looking before you pull out, you are going to crash at some point. The same goes for people changing direction suddenly and people walking towards you. If you can see someone who’s walking in profile to you and the direction that you want to walk in takes you into the side of them… maybe don’t walk into them. And most definitely do not kick them!
It’s manners, awareness and common sense! That’s what really fucks me off. Why can’t people have some sodding manners? And why do people expect someone else to sort everything out? Things like pushing a button, or removing a bag from a seat, or making one’s offspring shut the fuck up, or not walking into people – it’s not difficult. People, really – pay attention to what’s going on around you; you don’t have to engage in conversation with strangers (you don’t have to even smile at strangers, although it would make the world a nicer place) but just think about what you’re doing. Use your peripherals for a start. Being a musician who’s played with orchestras,
I admit that I have an advantage in this regard – but it makes life so much easier that I can see things coming from all angles and move out of the way. So you’ve never used them – that does not mean you can’t start. But most of all: just be polite about things. And never ever kick me in the foot when I’m minding my own business, because the next time it happens, I’m going to approach the perpetrator and tip the potato and baked beans I’m carrying all over them.
* Hello Mum!
** You should have seen the look on this girl’s face
*** People don’t like being looked at dead in the eye – it unnerves them because they think you’re clearly some sort of pervert who wants to shit on their chests, otherwise why would you be looking at them?