Monday, November 17, 2008

Beating the captain of Burnie United at pool

So this girl today, she's telling me that when someone wears an IPOD, it's a reflection on their selfishness, that somehow blocking out the wider world through, say, track 7 off the Britney album, is some sort of reflection on the human condition. This briefly worried me as I listen to my IPOD religiously, and did consider what I missing out on observing while listening to Before The Goodbye, but I was ignoring her so I just sort of acted indifferently, at which point I realised she was making some sort of sardonic observation on the fact I wasn't listening to her. Whenever a work place, a relationship, a family, whatever, whenever there's that break down, the first thing to go is the communication - people who stop talking and pursue individual ambitions will condemn themselves to a day of finality when there's simply nothing at all to say. Our workplace is heading that way, already we've swapped the team building powdered donuts and smiling faces for sour lollies and clock watching. I think that one of the things that happens in any job, other than rancourous Xmas parties, is that ambition will collide with each other over coffee mugs and piles of magazines. The ambition to progess, the ambition to escape, the ambition to go home, the ambition just to make a decent cup of coffee, we fight every single day at the moment because those who care too much fight those who's ambitions don't extend beyond a safe journey home. When I do escape out of the door, another day ticked off, I let everything go, all the fights, all the back stabbing, everything, it's gone, but I know she doesn't, I know everything in her head piles up...and I wonder if at one time, she had more elegant, grander dreams that didn't involve such piles of paperwork...the stress of everyone is mounting, and it's as though we've essentially accepted being trapped as par for the course. I wonder if tomorrow, if someone just quit in a firey blaze of Bon Jovi glory, everyone else would follow. At which point I look up from my magazine, and see that the girl has taken her high beam eyes and observations back to her desk, where she can while away the hours talking to her partner about netball and time filling...she leaves me alone, to contemplate the defintion of the workplace blind spot, the realisation that you are too lazy to get up and find something better to do for a living, and the irony that is pretending you didn't see the blind spot when you are fully aware that it's there...

A general lack of ability, fitness and a terror that the ball would hit me in places I didn't want to be hit stymied my dreams of playing soccer professionally. I had it in my head that one day I would play for Celtic but I was amusingly rubbish and it was pretty clear that I wasn't cut out for an athletic life. Our local soccer club was Burnie United, and the coach was a family friend, so one day I was packed into the red Nissan Micra and made to train with them. He was hard as nails - once, he tackled some guy and broke his leg, and when the guys Dad ran onto the pitch to remonstrate he simply raised an eyebrow and said "Oh, it's family night at the hospital is it?" - so when I trained there I'm sure his appraisal of the kid who wouldn't even take a good old fashioned ball to the stomach wouldn't have been kind. By the time they got to the end of training banter, making the new trainees get the balls they'd kicked, I knew that this was going to be a one and out deal. My parents probably hoped I'd stick at it, after all, I didn't have any friends in the mid 90s, just a collection of poorly formed thoughts about adolescence, a crush on some girl with an upturned nose, some undone Maths Applied homework and a pencilled in moustache that a kid called Josh continually teased me about. What I can remember about those lonely months was that I had a lot of time to think, and not a single one of my thoughts was about what I wanted to do with my life. There was a kid though called Paul, a skinny kid with a buzz cut and a swagger, who told us all that he was going to Milan to model and play soccer at the same time that summer, and that we were all pretty much losers that were going to be wallowing in his shadow for the rest of our lives. Frankly, the kid who left our school to go and start a line dancing school probably had more of a long term future, but he was confident and arrogant, the opposite to me who was nervous and awkward and couldn't say boo to a boob...er, goose...that I actually believed him, and sort of wished him well. I didn't have any summers in Milan planned, I had a summer in my garden mowing the planned, and the only thing I was modelling was an early 90s pair of Nike Sneakers with a dog bite in them...on the hot or not scale, it was a definite not...

Many years passed before I returned to the soccer club for a function, back to the sweeping plains of Burnie and the little club that could, which was all windy fields, brick barbeques and competing ethnic minorities, for reasons that I can't quite work out. I think I was determined to be the one that went back to Burnie pleased I had escaped, or something, it wasn't like I was returning an all conquering hero, but sometimes just escaping a place at least gets you a bronze medal and the last cheese sandwich off the platter when you return. I had planned some sort of cutting summation of the qualities of Hobart nightlife compared to 3 dollar rums inside some sort of dingy soccer hut...I'm glad I didn't, a foppish air in Burnie generally means you get the shit kicked but of you of course, besides which I got wretchedly drunk in front of everyone, which didn't prove any kind of superiority to anyone, especially when I tried to play my Dad at pool and nearly fell over the table leg. Suitably unawed my by terrible playing, people began challenging me to games of pool to try and impress girls, completely unaware then when I'm drunk, I'm completely outstanding at pool, and soon I was beating everyone, including the soccer club captain, who came dangerously close to not potting a ball and having to run around the table with his pants around his ankles. Even drunk I was completely aware that, having made this grand gesture of sporting excellence, I had to leave before the pool cue was inserted into some part of my body. It was such a claustrophobic and closed minded evening that I was always on edge, and of course, on a massive bender that ended up with me eating the equivalent of a truck stop sandwich from a fast food snack stop at 3 in the morning, which only seemed to exist for me in that magical 3am food way. As I left, I was sure that people were talking about me, and not in a good way, but I was feeling good because I had got out, I wouldn't have to live in their world, and most of all, I had swiped a healthy selection of peanuts from the bar...yes, life was good, life was salty...and it was lucky no one saw me splosh in a big muddy puddle and lose half their peanuts, that really would have given them something to talk about...

Of course, being Burnie, aside from the physical impossibility of finding a taxi, there was a sort of desolate and desperate air to the streets as I walked around trying to find that kebab. It was raining, it was cold, there were big crater like puddles scattered across the ground, ground that hadn't been tended to in a long long time. It was just me, the puddles, the odd stray illuminated plastic bag swirling in the wind, and of course, the obligatory mini skirted girl lying prostrate on the pavement in a half coma surrounded by suitably embarrassed friends all dressed the same blinking and swearing and trying to pull her up by the elbows. Skirting around the edge of this increasingly sad scene, just as the head mini skirt dropped the girl hard on the pavement, having seemingly given up on trying to pick her up, I was able to bamboozle them by pointing out they could put the girl in a stray and hopefully not being used by a homeless man shopping trolley and steal the taxi they were hoping to get. Putting aside the moral implications, I settled in the leather back seat, trying to shut out the drunken voice in my head, the static on the radio and the increasing guilt about stealing a taxi from an immobile girl that can only come from ten years of catholic school...it was probably a mugging scam anyway...as I look up from my seat, trying not to sink into the comfortable seat too much, but just enough so the taxi driver doesn't consider his stream of consciousness about how men are better than women, immigrants and migrants and vagrants and Stan Grants to be registering with me. I looked up for a moment, just to make sure that I wasn't being taken in some horrible strange long winded over paying direction, and as I did, I noticed it was him, the kid who used to tell us he was going to Milan, driving a cab around Burnie, talking with this utter hatred about everything and everyone...I was too tired to connect the dots, to assign the reasons for his failure to have his dreams fulfilled, to come up with a perceptible flash of the eyes to let him know I knew who he was and what he used to tell us, as no doubt how devastating his failure was and how cruel I could have been about it, I simply was too tired to engage, and slumped back into the seat, drunk, beaten, and full of kebab...

I saved the more philosophical implications of seeing him driving a cab in the rain for another day, but no one was listening, they were too busy flicking through copys of magazines and talking about life in the lunch room...again...

10 comments:

Jack Dorf said...

Don't you just love a chaotic workplace?
My present job is pretty tame and easy, but I've had some shockers in the past. Hang in there and remember workplaces follow the 5 stages of chaos. Something will give and order will flow to chaos and back again. Just like the taxi drivers of Burnie and the rats in a Skinner box.

Quickroute said...

It's strange alright the twists and turns of the path of life. You just don't know where the hell you're going to end up.

p.s. I find listening to my ipod adds a new sensory dimension to walking, hiking, biking etc

Miles McClagan said...

Well this work place is about to fall apart I'd say...it's pretty precarious at the moment! I'd say something is about to give, any day now, either that or we all just quit and become mini cab driver...

This whole bout of reflective thinking has been caused by looking at my Grade 1 photo and wondering what became of everyone...it's quite strange to think about it...and as for my IPOD, I couldn't live without it, but it's bad for observational blogging, no matter how much I want to listen to Smoosh!

squib said...

The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley

Mad Cat Lady said...

do we get to see a picture of this pencil moustache???

(the word verification that I have to type is 'hornny')

Miles McClagan said...

Exactly, and I've been to his cottage...I still think it's an alleged cottage, but Rabbie Burns cottage it says, and he's the favourite son of Ayrshire...apart from Fat Lorraine...

No, luckily I wasn't very popular and I hate photos so there's no pencil thin moustache records...and I don't pick the words, or it'd probably always be Jeebus...

Jannie said...

We never had a Grade One photo, at least I dont' think. Freaking backwater (but wonderful) farmland destitute school.

Miles McClagan said...

I don't remember having a Prep photo, but I know we had a Grade 1 photo, I'm rocking a pretty boss little polo neck...and geez I had a cheeky smile...

Baino said...

We have this thing at work where we stop without really planning it at 3:30pm and have a gigglefest. Works wonders for the flagging afternoon and helps me get over the fact that the most annoying paraplanner in the world is a lazy elitist dickwad who takes the last drip of water from the water cooler without changing it because it's not her job and feels that washing a teaspoon is below her even though she's paid less than me! I want to damage that woman. .maybe Tasmania will do it for me. Nobody gives a shit whether she lives or dies but only 2 days into her leave and she's calling to see if anyone's written her an email! Haha . . she and her devil spawn of born again Christianisms are touring your fair state.

Did I tell you I was your age and had chicken pox on my one and only five week sojourn around Tasmania. I was royally bummed because I missed the trip to the Cadbury factory! Still, my son bless his cotton sox bought me a 2 kilo bag of reject chocolates. Thank God I was healthy enough to quaff at Piper's Brook.
As for ambition . . I'm seriously hoping it's overrated.
If you're on Facebook, you'll be surprised who you can find from school days. (Erm not for my age unfortunately, they're all planning their retirement and think Facebook is an internet dating site for desperate housewives).

Miles McClagan said...

I have had a poke about Facebook, but there's enough drama with my own friends from now without discovering my Grade 12 crush has triplets or summat...ambition I hope is over-rated, I know I don't have any! Oh, and the gigglefest I try, we had a long discussion about the two headed kitten and urban legends today, which was nice, but that was because our problem worker was absent...not a lot to do with the cat!