Monthly Archives: July 2010

Customer Care

I have written before about the pharmacy beside my office, my drug dealer for my three different types of medication. I wrote about how one of the staff once described me as “our best customer” and how I feel that being a pharmacy’s best customer is probably not, on balance, a great thing to be.

I went in yesterday to re-stock, having reminded myself to do this by putting “do drugs” into my Outlook Calendar (I am well aware that my boss often has to look at my calendar to know when I’m free for meetings, and I like playing with his head sometimes).

The place where everybody knows your name is supposed to be Cheers, not a place that specialises in medication for the bewildered. Not in my case. “Hello, Tin”, said the beautiful Polish girl who works there.  While we waited for the pharmacist to fill my prescription (a process that basically involved him emptying his shelves into a paper bag) she and I chatted away. I asked her was she off for this Bank Holiday weekend. “I’m off for three weeks”, she replied, “I’m flying home tomorrow and getting married next Saturday”.

We talked about this for a while (her name’s going to be McCarthy, a popular Polish name) until my medicines arrived. As I was leaving I said “well congratulations, I hope you have a great time”, and held out my hand for her to shake it. She took my hand, reached forward, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek.

Surely it can’t be good to be so well known in a pharmacy that the staff kiss you when they feel like it.

On the other hand, the purpose of a pharmacy is to make you feel better. I certainly felt brilliant walking out.

Aptitute Test

A new team has been added to one of the divisions in our office (we’re like the football league – there are divisions, with teams in each, and sometimes there’s an awful, awful lot of balls) and one of the girls has been put in charge of it. I met her in the kitchen yesterday and congratulated her, she said “thanks, some people think I’m mad”, etc, etc.

This afternoon I walked past one of the meeting rooms, looked through the glass, and there she was – sitting on her own, papers in front of her, glasses on and long brown hair hanging down. I opened the door and said “wow, one day in the job and they give you your own office”.

She looked up. It wasn’t her.

It was apparently some French girl in for interview.

I’m hoping she thinks it was part of the interview process, otherwise the chances of us ever seeing her again aren’t that high.

Mo’ Bussin’ Blues

We bloggers like to believe that we have thousands of silent readers. Even if we get regular comments from less than 10 people we like to think that many, many others are reading, admiring, and talking to their friends about how brilliant we are.

Blog statistics are the pin that bursts that particular bubble. I got 44 readers for my bus post yesterday, and that’s assuming that each of you visited just once each. For all I know I have just one Kathy-Bates-in-Misery type reader, who hit my blog 44 times in swooning, lovesick devotion, in a room that has a picture of me (well, Brad Pitt, which is what she imagines I look like) on a small table, with a candle and a vase of red roses in front of it.

So it’s unlikely that all the drivers in Donnybrook Bus Depot cease their discussion each day about the Page 3 girl in the Sun, whether Liverpool will be any better under Roy Hodgson and how it should be permissible to mow down cyclists just so they can all gather around a computer and read this blog. So it’s unlikely that the driver of yesterday evening’s bus, having read of my morning bus adventures, thought to himself “huh, if he thinks that’s scary, wait till he sees this”.

Therefore the only conclusion is that he’s seen Speed, and thought it was a training video.

He beeped at people to get out of his way, drove for a while in the fast lane of the dual carraigeway, and overtook the line of traffic waiting to go right at the Killarney Road roundabout by driving up the left lane and then simply cutting across them. I didn’t actually hear any terrified passengers whimpering, but I think that’s because we were travelling faster than the speed of sound.

Having said all that, we got to Greystones 12 minutes ahead of my previous ever record, so on balance I hope they keep him.

By the way, the driver of this morning’s bus was the same driver as yesterday, presumably on the get-back-up-on-the-bike principle. I didn’t quite burst into applause when we reached our destination without mishap, as passengers do when touching down after turbulent flights, but I sure felt like it.

Catching the Bus

I was late for work this morning, even though I was up at the same time as usual, was at the bus stop at the same time as usual, and caught the same bus as usual.

As it’s holiday season many of the regular bus drivers are probably off, so we had what is known as a “relief driver”. Just why he was called this I’m not sure, unless it’s because during the journey he caused many of the more nervous passengers to relieve themselves.

He arrived late. We soon discovered that this was because he seemed to be under the impression that his bus was the width of an aircraft carrier, so he slowed and pulled in towards the side of the road every time a van came towards us, a car tried to pass us, or a bird flew by.

In this slow, plodding fashion, rather like the Tortoise would have run the race had he pulled in to allow the ice age to overtake, we climbed the hill out of Greystones, inched down the other side like a slinky toy coming down a flight of stairs, and headed out into the race-track madness that is morning on the N11 dual carraigeway.

Obviously he found this terrifying, as he pulled in to the hard shoulder and drove along on it. Whilst unorthodox, this would have been fine had he not stayed there as he passed the exit from Enniskerry. A guy in a blue Micra shot out of the exit, didn’t expect there to be anything right beside him as he pulled out, and caught the 6.45 am bus from Greystones – in the side of his car.

Obviously I wouldn’t be telling the story on a gentle blog such as this had the incident ended in a bloodbath of gore, injury and flying body-parts. There was a small bang, both vehicles had slight damage, and we all waited for the next bus. This should have been 25 minutes later, but we’d been travelling so slowly that we had only a five minute wait before it arrived.

This was also driven by a relief driver, but clearly one taking out his anger at having been fired as a jet-fighter pilot for flying too quickly. He pulled in at great speed, stuck his bus to the road just two inches behind our stricken one, loaded us all on, then pulled out right in front of a truck.

It has to be said that we all arrived at work wide-awake.

You just don’t get excitement like that on the train.

Friday Night, Saturday Morning

Why do we Irish insist on running onto the pitch at the end of hurling or football matches, no matter how often we’re asked not to? Will the Greens win any seats at all in any of the next five general elections? Did Hitler think “oh shit, we’re fucked now” when he heard Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor? Was Peter Schmeichel the greatest goalkeeper of all time? Did Maggie Thatcher being British PM for so long help or hinder women’s rights? Have house prices fallen as low as they can, or is there still a long way to go? Is Toy Story 3 any good? Do Southern Irish people support Northern Ireland at football? Why do we get threatened with being thrown out of the EU if we vote against something like the Lisbon treaty, but when France voted against the EU Constitution it was just abandoned? Why haven’t the Government held the by-elections for the three vacant seats? Why aren’t the UN tougher on countries with bad human rights records? How were Iraq meant to give up their WMDs when they didn’t have any? Have you ever seen The Princess Bride? What was it like watching the Iron Curtain governments fall one by one? When are you two going to bed?

All of these questions were addressed by Tinson1 and I during a wide-ranging conversation last night. Well, not all of them. The last question was actually asked by Mrs Tin when she came down to the kitchen to find us chatting. Because at that stage it was 5.25 am.

I got home around midnight, he had apparently arrived a few minutes earlier. He was in the kitchen getting himself something to eat when I arrived in to make tea, and we started to talk. And then talk. At some stage I made more tea. Still we continued to talk, just standing there. We saw the dawn come up, and still talked, still standing there. That was the thing, neither of us sat, we just continued to stand, he with his back against the cooker, me leaning against the back door, as if we both realised that if either of us sat down or looked tired then the spell would be broken and this remarkable conversation would end.

Neither of us were up too early this morning.

Oh BTW: I think it’s because disobedience to authority is part of our psyche, not a chance, I would have if I was him, yes of course, probably helped on balance, still have a long way to fall, brilliant, most of them, because France are more important than we are, because they’ve no balls, because they’ve no balls, search me (since searching them didn’t work), well you should, really astonishing, we’re just off now.

Rear View Mirror

This morning I sneaked out of the office to get my hair cut .

It was no problem, since I was back in 15 minutes, just ten euro poorer. A quick, cheap haircut is one of the advantages of being a bloke. The other two are being born with an innate understanding of the offside rule (with especially gifted males this can be in up to three sports) and the ability to belch all five vowels of the alphabet in one go (women, on the other hand, live five years longer, which kind-of makes a talent for mellifluous burping seem a bit feeble).

The barber shop, complete with red-and-white pole, is just yards from our office, and they do an excellent job. I have only one complaint. When they have finished they pick up a mirror and show you the back of your head.

I’ve never been sure what the point of that is. Women pay a couple of hundred quid to their stylist, so will of course want to view the creation from every possible angle (including directly above, in case they should walk under a ladder which has a friend of theirs up it). We men do not have stylists, because our hairstyle, if that’s not too grand a word for it, hasn’t changed since Humphrey Bogart’s time, apart from outbreaks of sideburns during the dafter decades.

Einstein once said that if you could look through a telescope powerful enough you would be able to see the back of your own head. Tellingly, though, he didn’t bother building it, despite the fact that he himself had hair like a Jedward with his toe stuck in a wall socket. He knew that there would be no point. All men look away as quickly as possible, muttering “yes, yes, that’s grand”. No man has ever said “my God, that’s far too short, stick some back on”.

The reason that we all look away at once is quite simple. While laughter lines, greyness, paunches and wrinkles can all be put down, however unconvincingly, to living the good life, the ever-changing state of the back of our heads is irrefutable proof that we are getting old.

When I was young my hair covered all of my head like the roof of a car, protecting my skull from rain, hailstones and birdshit. Somewhere along the way God decided that I needed an upgrade to include a sunroof, at no extra cost. Over time this sunroof has grown. In the brief millisecond before I looked away in horror this morning I noticed that my bald patch now covers about the same expanse of my head as the Arctic does of Earth.

If it gets any bigger, I’m going to look like an American pick-up truck.


Why does a hair-conditioner leave your hair smooth and shiny, restoring moisture and strength (as a bloke I don’t know if any of this is true, by the way, I just read it off a bottle), while an air-conditioner leaves you rough and whiney, ensuring dry-mouthedness and weakness?

In our office there are just two seasons: Winter, when the air-con makes sure it’s cold, and Summer, when the air-con makes sure it’s freezing. It’s more than a little disheartening to look out the window at people walking happily by clad only in shorts and a t-shirt, while we sit in here dressed like a buffalo with a heavy cold. It makes you feel like a child with your face pressed up against the railings of a playground, watching enviously as luckier kids enjoy a magical world of swings and see-saws, or like Scrooge visiting the wonderful parties of his youth with the Ghost of Christmas Past, eager to join in but unable to touch.

The permafrost of our office means that it’s almost impossible to wear just a shirt (on top, obviously, I do wear trousers & other stuff), which on warm but wet days such as today poses a problem. I had to wear a light coat to the bus, but I couldn’t also wear the extra clothing that I knew I’d need later in the office, since it was really warm even at 6.30 and if I had I’d have dissolved like an Alka-Seltzer in hot water. The only answer was to stuff a hoodie into the back pack in which I carry my lunch, my book and, in a pitiful display of optimism, my sunglasses.

Since it was going to spend an hour each way stuffed into a bag I grabbed an old one, one which I normally wear around the house, which was lying rolled up on a chair. I got to work, the air-con noise rose, the air-temperature fell, so I dug out the hoodie and put it on. And looking down reminded me why it had been rolled up on the chair. It was because I spilled red wine on it last Saturday night. In three separate red splotches.

So I spent the day cold. It was the lesser of two evils.

Fade Out

While sitting in the garden this afternoon, with my iPod set on shuffle, I was struck by how many of the songs simply faded out at the end, without any definite closing notes.

This doesn’t happen in other art forms. No book has ever been written where the type simply gets smaller and smaller until eventually it can’t be read at all. No play has ever been performed where the actors just speak more and more quietly and then the curtain closes.

And no film has ever been made where the closing credits suddenly appear out of nowhere, apparently in mid-story, if you don’t count the first Lord of the Rings film.

Yet songwriters seem to feel that it is fine to simply repeat the chorus over and over, while slowing turning the volume control button. To those of us with real jobs, however, those who have to install microwave ovens, or do custom kitchen deliveries (a fine example of the kind of song I’m talking about, by the way), this just seems like laziness. We feel that if you are getting your money for nothing and your chicks for free (in fairness, most guys do get their chicks for free, as indeed do most chicks get their guys, because the alternative to that is called prostitution) then you should make a bit of an effort, even if it’s just sticking “dum diddley ump dum…..dum dum” at the end of every song.

I’ve noticed too that it’s a modern trend. I have quite a lot of classical music on my iPod, and people like Mozart and Bach, having written far longer tunes than today’s boys, had no problem at all thinking up stirring or beautiful endings. The Classical Composers’ Union is let down only by Schubert, who not only couldn’t be arsed finishing his symphony, he couldn’t even be arsed thinking up a proper name for it.

Well, that’s it for today’s post …. that’s it for today’s post …. that’s it for …

Bloody annoying, isn’t it.

Badly Drawn Boys

Those who read the great works of literature often ponder upon the deep questions raised by these works. Among the most puzzling are:

  • How did Robinson Crusoe know that it was Friday the day he met Friday (I spent most of today thinking it was Tuesday, and I’ve got a watch)?
  • Wouldn’t Walden have been an even better place with a satellite dish?
  • Apes don’t wear loincloths, so why does Tarzan, if he really was raised by them?
  • If you have eliminated the impossible and several options still remain, that didn’t really help much, did it?
  • Why doesn’t Lady Macbeth have to be referred to as Lady Scottishplay?

Those who don’t read the great works of literature, however, tend to gravitate towards this blog (no offence, guys, I think of you as soulmates), so here is a similar list of deep questions to mull over when you are next watching cartoons:

  • Given that we know roughly what size a rabbit is, just how small is Elmer Fudd?
  • Speaking of whom, why does Bugs Bunny spend all day annoying him instead of being, well, at it like a rabbit?
  • If you had a lisp as bad as Sylvester’s, would you choose “sufferin’ succotash” as a catchphrase?
  • Why does Maggie Simpson, whose name suggests she’s a girl, wear a blue babygro?
  • Did any child, ever, actually like Mickey Mouse?
  • If Yogi is smarter than the average bear, just how thick are other bears?
  • Looking at the picture of Fred Flintstone, why did prehistoric man invent the tie before the trouser?
  • Even Tom from Tom and Jerry lives in a house. Top Cat lives in a dustbin. He is top cat in what way exactly?
  • After years of being supplied with defective rockets, catapults and jet-skates, shouldn’t Wile E. Coyote stop buying from Acme?
  • Just what colour must Popeye’s poo be?

Happy pondering.

Remote Control

In the bar of my local on Saturday night, the conversation turned to the pedestrian crossing which has recently been installed outside (see, we don’t just talk about football and boobs).

A discussion took place as to whether or not a sensor could be installed so that the lights would change every time a man internally wearing a box full of electrical impulses approached. The consensus was that this would get me into the pub quicker, that this would be a good thing, and that the conversation as a whole was hilarious.

My protestations that it was just as well that I’m not sensitive were ignored, mainly because, after the first couple of seconds, I was one of the most enthusiastic particpiants in the debate. Because I think it would be cool. People still love house lights that turn on when you clap your hands, or phones that ring a certain person if you say their name. To those who might say that stuff like that is childish, that grown-ups aren’t impressed, I can only reply with the four words Big Mouth Billy Bass.

Anyone would feel slightly smug if they could walk up to a set of traffic lights knowing that they would automatically change in their favour as they neared. It would be like having a secret superpower.

My pubmates are wrong, however, if they think I’d arrive at the pub quicker. I’d be far more likely to stand at the very limit of the sensor’s range, stepping forwards and backwards into and out of it, annoying the shit out of the traffic. For hours on end.  

I might not get to the pub at all.