Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Compiling a Hate List

I’m sure the readers of this blog are good, tolerant, ethically-minded people who take it as read that they should oppose racism, counter homophobia, share their sweeties and be kind to furry animals. But what, I wonder, gets your goat? What trivial, unworthy things really make you see red - kind, sweet and good-natured as you most undoubtedly are? I ask because I’m back at work after a fourteen day gap in which I pleased myself when I got up and when I retired, and so I am probably going to be hyper-ratty for a day or two until I resign myself yet again to the recurring dream which is ELT.

Level one: mild irritation

My working day starts with a forty minute train ride which can be quite relaxing if I have a good book. One thing I could really do without, however, is that conductor on East Midland trains who comes down the carriage twittering ‘any more tickets at all this morning from Oakham, please?’ with a jaunty back-slap of a rise-fall on 'Oakham', as if to say ‘jolly old Oakham, oho, the times we had there, eh?’ I don’t hate this, or of course him, but it makes me want to take him aside and point out to him that ‘tickets please’ would be no less polite and no less effective in getting the job done and it wouldn’t distract me from my book. I mean, when else could it be, other than this morning? Does ‘at all’ mean anything here? Oakham is a place few of us really give a sod about, it just happens to sit between where we came from and where we’re heading. So let’s have no more of this nonsense, hmmm? Then he gets onto the loudspeaker and says ‘the next station this morning will be Melton Mowbray!’ as though the route were variable and he thought a stop at dear old Melton might be a nice surprise for us.

Level two: somewhat greater irritation

Some useless arse in the university has caused notices to be stuck outside all the lifts reading ‘Health and Wellbeing. Please consider using the stairs instead of the lift’. As a rule I do just that, but today I cut my nose off to spite my face and used the lift, wishing for once that there was a CCTV camera trained on me so that someone could note my defiance. God's cock, what next? They’ll be expecting us to start the day with a spot of collective physical jerks, as in a Japanese car factory.

Level three: really quite rattled

Chewing gum. I know it’s pathetic to get steamed up about something so harmless and commonplace, but I loathe it, sight, smell and sound, most especially the sound. Yesterday I had four hours in the presence of a student who was worrying a wad of gum with his mouth wide open. Had he been a teenager I would simply have told him to get rid of it, but he was a Major (near enough) in the Algerian navy, so I felt I had to endure the awful, endless, squelchy, sloppy, ploppy racket. It sounded like someone ladling quantities of frog-spawn and jelly-fish into a tin bucket right next to me. I knew not merely irritation, but fury. Utter Fucking Rage. I actually bit the end off my pen. Better than punching him in the teeth, I suppose, given his status and our relationship, but still, it must have presented a curious sight.

I cannot be alone in this – can I? Add a comment and tell me what really pisses you off. Must be 100% irrational, mind.


Fionnchú said...

1) On my commute, it being L.A., often the train recordings are bilingual. My iPod will not drown them out. The female Spanish speaker clips off the ends of the words in an exaggerated lisp (can you do both?) and this makes her accented recital even more foreign. As a rare native, I resent this and it turns me daily more xenophobic. I also wonder what all the Armenians and Koreans and Persians think of this sop to only part of the global village's comprehension. Voting materials and driving tests are only in six or so languages. What about the other 110 tongues babelled here?

2) My employer expects that since no student uses the phone anymore to contact us-- let alone see us in person-- we need to hold "office hours" not in our dull but quieter cubicles, but in the similarly forlorn tutoring center. Somehow-- rather than getting rid of this outmoded donnish tradition in a Panopticon corporate model where I must teach hybrid courses half on-line, half on-site anyway-- this move to plastic chairs and sitting at a computer for two mandated hours a week shows we are hipper and more available to our students than if we remained in our "offices," reading a book. Students still hardly ever show up, happy that they do half their work online instead of coming to campus as much. Amidst marooned faculty, the work-study tutors chat and joke, distracting us even more.

3) Besides "Friends" on the rather dismal Facebook feed Twittering us all now instead of even composing a sentence or two responding to "What's on your mind," now we get pressure to start texting our students and each other at work. Apparently our hip, wired students cannot fathom getting those antiquated phone calls, e-mails, let alone face-to-face chats about whatever we need to tell them and vice versa. Texting, some "digital generation" supervisor born post-1980 rationalizes, shows our with-it students that we groovy faculty can also get down with the latest gadgets those kool kids have.
I hate using the phone; e-mail distancing is a blessing if only by comparison. That's enough communication for me with anyone I work with or teach. I already have to log in regularly and dismally to the on-line component of my classes as I am monitored without my knowledge by my bosses. I don't want to be accessible 24/7 to everyone else in this carceral circus.

P.S. From your picture, you don't look as if you'd be cowed by any mere Algerian Navy vet!

vilges suola said...

Oh, this sounds unendurable! Someone at work gave a student my cell phone number and he called me to request feedback on his oral test. As politely as I could, I gave him to understand he could go boil his head. To be on hand for students 24/7 by various electronic means must be so intrusive. I also hate using the phone. I even hate eye contact! Fortunately by removing my glasses, I can give the illusion that I am looking someone manfully in the eye while in fact to me they are merely fuzzy ghosts.

I was not so much intimidated by the Major as unsure how he would react - he'd have spit out the gum at once, but he was not alone in the room and there were considerations of face saving, and all that.

And I thought I looked such a pussy cat in my photo...

Bo said...

1) People who say 'pacific' when they mean 'specific', or say 'skellington' for 'skeleton'.

2) The Victorians.
Makes me very uncomfortable. I can't even read novels set in the period. Also: pot pourri.

3) Young men (it always is men) who drive around town centres with their car windows down and eardrum-shatteringly loud hip hop or other aural mortar fire pounding out. I always, always want to rip their fucking throats out with a swipe of my claws.

vilges suola said...

I always found 'skellington' rather endearing, probably because when I was in Cambridge the girlfriend of a friend I fancied like mad used to sing a song called 'Your Baby Has Gawn Dahn the Plug 'ole' which included the line 'E was only a skellington covered wiv skin'. Well, you had to be there.

2 - never read a victorian novel, so I wouldn't know.

Agree totally about 3.

Anonymous said...

Vilges, one word - chewing gum and its ilk. You hit it right on the head. As for your Algerian major, I outranked him, so I would have told him. It was a long time ago, but I haven't forgotten how, ask my students....


Livia Indica said...

I share your irritation with gum chewing. It's especially disgusting when an individual chews with their mouth wide open; it's like a cow chewing its cud.

vilges suola said...

Glad to hear gum gets on people's nerves. I always had adolescents spit it out by waving the waste bin around in front of them so they had to aim. I always feel uncomfortable asking adults to spit it out, though. Honestly I'd rather they smoked - it doesn't bug me anything like as much.

Anonymous said...

I HATE CHEWING GUM ! Unfortunately this seems to be a staple of Greek life. The sight of a well dressed, attractive woman chewing the cud like a pregnant heifer makes me want to slap at will - especially if they blow bubbles - arghhhhh !

STRONG PERFUME !! Blows my mind and gives me an instant headache. I feel like saying " the bottle should last more than one week." This is extremely bad in airports after tax free sampling and even worse if they sit next to you on a plane.

They always start the conversation with....... sorry to bother you but... I think I have only ever had one emergency situation where it justified the phone call.

I could probably rant on all morning but will stop here....


vilges suola said...

Yeah, the bubbles and the popping of gum against the teeth, SOOOOO common, darling.

Michael said...

Little irritations are all I blog about, and gum does get on my nerves. I have classmate that always has two pack of gum in his pockets, and he distributes it to everyone before each class.

It makes him popular. He thinks he's popular. Because of gum.


Layne said...

U.S. studies have shown that many students function better in the classroom and on tests when allowed to chew gum. I shudder to think how much more ineffectual they'd be if prohibited from slobbering cud.

Although it is impossible to get a proper American sized soda with a respectable amount of ice there across the pond, I doubt if you have to suffer the indignity of being address by young (inevitably gum chewing) waitstaff as "you guys."

The writing here is trenchant and hilarious and a real source of pleasure. Thanks for it.

vilges suola said...

Hi Layne,

Thank you so much for the kind comment, very pleased you like it!

Yes, I have heard that some sts function better with a wad of gum on the go. In my classes at least any benefit they derived from the gum would be neutralised by the psychic death-rays I aim at the chewer. Honestly, I'd rather they smoked - it doesn't bug me half as much, even though I have never smoked myself.

Sethy said...

Gum is in the top ten of my list. Overage drivers are number one though. Please God let my children be forgiven for shooting me at dawn rather than I join the geriatric farts with response times measured in minutes.

vilges suola said...

Exactly what my dad used to say. Then he became one. His request was a rabbit punch to the neck, but we never did it.


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