Ah, the modern workplace is a strange beast.
You share cups and fossick for spoons, sit closer than you’d choose to most people and spend the majority of your waking life sharing an ill air-conditioned space with others who do not share your hygiene standards.
For around 40 hours a week we hunch at our desks, beavering away at any number of shared business goals and ticking off KPIs.
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We’ve all been there: relaxing over Sunday coffee in a lovely little cafe, only to have the peace pierced by the screeching of a baby who clearly doesn’t like the latte.
So, what to do? Do you politely ask the parents to remove their bawling bundle of joy, or do you suck it up and have your own Sunday ruined by unholy howling.
In Sydney, one cafe goer has sparked a fierce debate by rising up for the silent majority to ask the parents of a screaming baby “to take their child for a walk or find another solution”.
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I was given tickets to hear former Prime Minister John Howard give an address at Adelaide’s Elder Hall recently. Curious as to what he might say in the current political climate and given that I had been promised Hungry Jacks afterward, I went along.
As he got up to speak, a heckler stood and started decrying Mr Howard as a war criminal and a liar. Sure, it was a bold move in a room full of people I assume – judging by all the pearls and popped collars – were Liberal Party members, but I couldn’t help thinking how unbelievably stupid this man was.
I’m not sure what outcome he had in mind. Perhaps he hoped that by shouting abuse in a public forum that Mr Howard might exchange email addresses with him or set a meeting to flesh out the issue at a more convenient time.
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Constant CPR vigilance is exhausting. Trust me. I’m there, ready to give chest compressions as I learnt in a scuba diving course as soon as someone keels over.
The only problem is, I don’t work in a hospital. I just go to a gym.
I recently joined one of those 24-hour chain gyms where you can work out to your heart’s content… or discontent.
Controversial humour. We’ve all heard the ‘jokes’ that fit this category before. They range from somewhat acceptable digs at ‘yo mama’ to serious jibes about culture, race, religion and sexual preferences.
It was also the disclaimer of sorts that Facebook inserted into the Aboriginal Memes URL before the page was eventually taken down yesterday—as if to say it was more acceptable when operating under the guise of humour.
Copycat pages have since surfaced in a more horrible (hard to fathom), albeit a somewhat less targeted format just hours after the Aboriginal Memes page was no longer accessible: “Things that will offend people,” and “Being offensive for the hell of it”, are just some of the latest distasteful outlets which have emerged solely for the purpose of offending people.
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Facebook pages of celebrities are being trolled by a particularly ‘Strayan identity of late. Potentially the only person in the country who actually refers to nitwits as “flamin’ galahs”.
His name is Alf Stewart. Best known for being a fictional character on Channel 7’s long-running Summer Bay soapie Home and Away. Also one of the most accomplished entrepreneurs in the country, having at various times run the Summer Bay liquor store, caravan park and yacht brokerage.
The Alf Facebook troll is almost as big as a hit as the long-running character – its page has over 63,000 subscribers (and rising). Facebook Alf leaves childish, abusive, disgusting and (sometimes) funny messages on the pages of big names. Obviously, neither Channel 7 or Ray Meagher have anything to do with it.
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Okay, I realise as far as pressing, first world problems go, this isn’t nudging the top of the charts, but it’s Friday — so bugger it.
I am puzzled by many things, but fairly high on the list is why people make/take phone calls while in/on the toilet. Granted it’s probably not the worst sound you could hear emanating from a toilet cubicle, but seriously, why?
Do you feel so important sitting on “the throne” that you need to take that call right then and there? Can’t you call them back?
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I can feel the prod of pitchforks, the heat of flaming torches and suction of rampant breast pumps to nether regions already, but here goes.
A. I am no prude, and
B. I’m not a woman, so
C. I’ve never had a baby (Where’s the fetus going to gestate? You going to keep it in a box?”) So obviously therefore,
D. I’ve never breastfed.
There. A few disclaimers to hopefully delay said prodding, heat and suction. I understand the evolutionary purpose of breasts, that they shouldn’t be sexualized, I get the whole feeding is natural, women shouldn’t be ashamed, blah blah, I get and concur with all of that.
What I don’t get and strongly un-concur with is why a woman would choose to graphically breastfeed her baby in a crowded city café at lunchtime (ours as well as the baby’s apparently).
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A friend of mine was forced to leave a drinks party with three friends because they spent more time scrolling through their Facebook feeds than having a proper conversation around the table. Does that ever happen to you?
Today’s dilemma: is it ever okay to ask your friend to switch off their phone while you’re getting together? And does “where” you are make a difference? For example, is it more or less offensive to check your phone around the dinner table than at a backyard BBQ?
While you’re contemplating that, check out this video from clever American blogger, Brian Perez. He’s invented the phone-stacking game. The explanation is over the jump.
The woman booked a table for 10 at 7pm, Thursday, at the hip Bentley Bar and Restaurant in Sydney’s Surry Hills.
Owner Nick Hildebrand had to turn away four couples trying their spontaneous luck because his 50-seater was fully booked, but by 7.45pm, that big table still hadn’t arrived so he called them and was told they were on the way.
It sat empty for another 30 minutes, so he called again but this time, she didn’t answer. They never arrived.
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Australian senators accused of leering at each other’s posteriors? Of failing to show respect? Of not “bowing and scraping” sufficiently in deference to the chair?
Welcome to just another day on the plush red carpet of the nation’s more civilised Upper House.
But then, the final sitting Thursday was never just any old day was it?
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Tired of scrutinising slow-mo footage of suspicious ripples in Beyonce’s baby bump, I’m pleased to announce that we’re free to analyse another equally significant, universe-buckling event.
The Prime Minister didn’t curtsy to the Queen. No. I don’t think you understand. PRIME MINISTER. DIDN’T CURTSY. QUEEN. Surprisingly the police weren’t called, but the indignant tutting of monarchists could be heard from space, much like the Governor General’s outfit.
See, ‘curtsy’ is an abbreviation of the word ‘courtesy’. Well, it probably is – I leave that kind of research to proper journalists. They sound similar though, and that can’t be a coincidence, right? It’s similar to the way that ‘Negus’ is short for ‘Never Give Up Sixty Minutes’, in that I made it up just then.
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When I was a teenager, there was nothing I wanted more than to move out of suburbia. I grew up in a place so nondescript that, after performing there, John Cleese remarked that if you wanted to kill yourself but lacked the courage, a visit to my home city “would do the trick”. (Locals had the last laugh by naming the municipal dump after him.)
The city itself wasn’t the problem – solid agricultural attitudes and a bit of civic symmetry rather please me – it was the stultifying ordinariness of life in suburbia. The predictable pleasantness of everything from progressive dinners to neighbourly sugar sharing. My best friend and I even coined the term ‘subby dip’ for the onion-soup-mix and sour-cream confection routinely served with Jatz crackers. Our derision was to be expected. We were 19.
We wanted to be, as our favourite band sang, “making love on the edge of a knife”, not on the floral bedspreads or in the lavender-scented gardens of our boyfriends’ parents.
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Four friends were dining over lunch in a swish Adelaide restaurant last weekend when a woman at the next table pulled out her chair and proceeded to change her baby’s nappy on the floor.
Can you believe that? The four friends couldn’t. They were so stunned they decided to phone The Sunday Mail.
“It was just so unhygienic and inappropriate,” said one. “Luckily it was only a wet nappy – imagine if it had been really messy.”
No thanks, ladies. Might put me off my own lunch. But talk about taking the new mums’ cause back 20 years.
Everyone should abide by driving laws but I reckon there’s a need for a guide to driving etiquette.
Is it just me or are drivers becoming more agitated, more selfish and lacking any respect for other motorists? They aren’t necessarily breaking the law, they just make driving more annoying.
Gone are the days when driving was a pleasure. Today it’s a means of getting from one place to another with the least amount of aggro.
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As of next month Air New Zealand passengers will be allowed to use mobiles while on board, enabling Kiwi jet-setters to advise their loved ones that their flight is on schedule and they’ll be home by sucks.
What really sucks about this move is that it will destroy the sole remaining bastion of public peace, the sanctuary of the aircraft, which in this hyper-connected modern world is the only escape from texts, tweets, emails, and the sheer horror of the loud and long-winded conversations of strangers.
I’ve never been to New Zealand but from what I can gather it consists of two islands, each of them about 500km long, with a large airport in the middle somewhere so that its citizens can emigrate to Australia to find work. Based on this rough estimate the longest domestic flight in NZ would take about 40 minutes and the extremely popular one-way flight to Bondi only marginally longer.
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Most people in this country spend around 35 hours plus, (give or take sick days, annual leave, religious holidays, extended lunch breaks, taking a nap in the archive room etc), per week at work.
Given that this represents such a high percentage of our lives, it makes sense, to some degree, that we be as comfortable as possible in these environments, maybe even do little things here and there that make the workplace more homely. The key phrases here however, are “to some degree” and “do little things”.
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It all started with Bob.
Sorry, I mean, “Bawb….”
Even if you really didn’t want to listen, there was very little choice, the American woman’s voice rang out across the terminal in a short, high pitched southern Florida squall.
THE past week has been filled with some serious news from serious places. Luckily none of this need concern us here, as Suburban Tales presents you with men bearing flowers, cars bearing children’s play equipment, and tow trucks bearing your automobile.
Sleazy or Cheesy: Where is the line between sleaze and old-fashioned courtesy?
Everybody has a pervy uncle. They’re part of the wider family ecology, along with the smarter, more popular alpha-cousin and the preternaturally athletically gifted niece who’s destined to represent her state in a sport no one cares about. We all know the tricks in the pervy uncle’s sleazy arsenal:
Last Friday I did the unthinkable – I switched off my mobile phone.
At first there was the separation anxiety, not unlike the cravings one feels when on a diet, that insatiable yearning for something you know you can’t have. Then there was the involuntary impulse to reach into my pocket to check the phone for a text message, email or a missed call. Every look at the blank screen was disappointing.
As lunchtime approached, I’d become suitably acclimatised to this change to my daily routine. I read the newspaper uninterrupted over a strong Irish tea. It makes you realise how much the mobile impacts on everyday life. I use it far too much. If you ask me, enough is enough.
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It’s taken a few tests but I’ve finally figured out why it’s so hard to watch the new Kmart ad without grimacing. Have you seen it? It’s the one where an attractive young mum pushes a stroller through Kmart with one hand, balances a two-year old on her hip and talks on her mobile phone with the other, while the older child (my guess about five years of age?) runs ahead of her.
Cue super helpful Kmart guy who comes to the rescue, somehow managing to both read her mind and reach for the most hard-to-get kettle on the shelf, deposit it into the hands of the renegade five year old and not for a single second interrupt the woman’s phone-call.
The result, a wonderfully apt depiction of all the things that drive me nuts about shopping centres, specifically supermarkets and the pesky little habits they bring out in even the best of people.
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One sunny afternoon I was coming out of Sydney’s Redfern Station and a woman with a child asked me for money. I felt so sorry for her that I gave her my last 5 bucks. Feeling self-satisfied at my generosity, I walked away with a smile on my face. Then something strange happened. She yelled out sarcastically, “Thanks, you … slut”.
Up until this point I’d always thought I’d given money to “beggars” unconditionally – certainly I’d always shouted down people who moralised that “they will only spend it on drugs and alcohol”. But with her insult, something inside me snapped.
Marching back up to her I demanded my money back. She told me to “f… off” as I proceeded to give her a lecture on begging etiquette. My view, which I proceeded to ram down her throat with some equally colourful language, was that she should be polite to me because I gave her the last of my money.
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Imagine someone asked you to write a book on “the rules” in your office.
How many things would make your list of do’s and don’ts and would the appearance of your colleagues make the cut?
Laurence Caracalla is a former Paris press officer and a stickler for “appropriate behaviour at work”.
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AS the nation scorches, it’s time to confront a less obvious side-effect of the drought - brolly barbarians.
It’s been so long since many Aussies have unfurled an umbrella, when rain does arrive we abandon the basic etiquette of wet weather gear.
The umbrella has - in the grasp of inexperienced Aussies - become a weapon. Watch during the next welcome shower. It’s enough to induce a Britney-style rage.
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Now the movie Australia was long. Really long. Which might explain why when I saw it at the cinema the guy down the row not only answered two phone calls, but smoked two cigarettes inside the cinema during the flim.
I wish now The Drover had turned his head from the dusty plain, stepped down through the silver screen into the cinema and said to the guy what I was too shy to say: turn it off you selfish idiot! (Just to clarify this Drover dream sequence of mine was all about mobile phone etiquette, nothing else, really.)
Harry Connick Jr, however, would have been as useless as me. Sitting there wishing the battery would go flat but politely soldiering on “in character”.
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