Friday, November 7, 2008

The essential dignity of the human bee

So today I learned that when it comes to the carrot or stick option to motivate me, I'm apparently equally inspired by both, since my boss, a stressed out woman not much older than me but with far more motivation to do something with her life (even if her boyfriend looks like amusing cricketer Mark Ridgeway) has been laying the stress on and I've kind of responded with some strangely clear headed focus. Once again though, it's basically a survival technique, I go with whatever the situation demands and just respond to that. I think if I was completely left alone I'd sit and watch Boomerang until the food ran out and then I'd spring into action to save myself. One thing you do learn in Scotland is basic survival - "keep yer heid doon" as it were - in particular when it comes to things like making sure you aren't last on the bus and don't have to sit next to the nut case with the nuclear bomb in his tin of spam. The strangest thing about living in Tasmania at first anyway was thanking the bus driver when you got off - try doing that in Scotland and see how you go. Anyway, the whole day today was just a massive exercise in exhaustive clock watching no matter how potentially wonderful my numbers were. I think as a personal failing, my lack of excitement about anything that isn't Britney Spears, sports teams or broad social trends is good in a relaxed social setting but not condusive to an excellent motivated life. Still, it was good today, and I am happy, because obviously life is not about the dire quality of your meetings, the twenty minutes you are stuck listening to some smug twat try and give you specific examples of his job and doing air quotation marks, and it's not standing around a whiteboard with a demented stressed out woman losing the last vestiges of her youth worrying about the rise and fall of her profit margins. It's one of your best friends e-mailing you at the same time you are e-mailing them to tell them how bad Jessica Mauboy is, it's laughing at your Dad for forgetting to pick you up and standing in the car park for 1/2 an hour, and it's some kind woman at the cafe specially making you a lime spider...sure, it wasn't quite the quality of the 1980s Fitzgerald the spoon can't reach the bottom giant lime spider. but then, what was that good...that was living...

I went for my lunchtime walk anyway, and I was texting several swear words at once about Shane Watson when I saw at the bottom of the otherwise laden with prams, poor people and bewildered old women who mistake it for a ride at the fair and stand around on it escalator a woman, I think it was a woman, dressed in a bee costume, handing out leaflets. By definition, no good can come from a woman in costume in a mall. No good. I'm inherently suspicious of sales pressure at the best of time, but when you throw in the added worry of bee costumed zaniness, then I'm definitely not on board. I could see from a distance that for some reason she had locked her eyes (do bees have eyes?) on me, and that pamphlet was definitely aimed on a my direction kind of angle. There was a brief consideration to push an old woman in front of the bee, but luckily at the last moment, she changed her mind and focused on the pink and black leggings Mum with the screaming kid in the trolley to push her pamphlet on. As it turned out, it was something to do with Village Cinemas - why she was a bee, I don't know, she might as well have been Bea Arthur for all the cultural relevance it seemed to have. Now the kid, a typical screaming brat with a limited attention span and desire to cause chaos through use of only the words Mum and Mah, clad in what can only be described as Juniors first jogging suit, he seemingly didn't want to talk to the giant tribute to Sting, and so, he did what any kid in that direction would do - he basically groped the bee in what I believe to be a sensitive area for a female. There was no doubt padding, but it was still a horrendous act of personal space invading that no bee male or female should have to put up with. The bee though stayed cool, and pretended it didn't happen, retaining her zany glitter filled personality, even doing a little bee dance for the kid to try and cheer him up on about his twenty eighth exortation of "MAH!" - as the pram was pushed off in the direction of the supermarket, the bee was even kind enough to wave them off, with their free gifts and movie tickets, an act of great kindness I thought. However, just as I was about to write a wonderful paragraph about the essential dignity of the human bee, her face fell, she looked down at the ground, and let out a very quick, emphatic "fuck", and then went back into her professional guise. I was proud of her, but disappointed that the standard of professionalism in our mall costume wearers can't quite hold up to a simple tweak...you could, of course, say it stung, but that's just not a necessary conclusion to the paragraph....that's a Wil Anderson punchline...

As it happens, I love those little lapses in dignity and the indignities that life can throw at you. My Dad, he went to the first ever female boxing match in Ayrshire about, oh, 25-30 years go. My Dad is a big boxing fan, but he said he'd never go and watch it live again because you could see people getting hurt up close and see young kids tearing up when they got a punch in the head. Obviously, this was 1970s Ayrshire, so sensitivity would have been thin on the ground anyway...never mind two women boxing, and probably having it requested several times that a particularl part of their anatomy be exposed (I put it politely). One girl boxer Dad said was called Michelle, and she was an exceptionally toothless leotard wearing big bruiser clad in black who was known to eat raw glass on the rocks, and she was fighting a girl called, let's say Sharon. Now Michelle was basically a tank, and Sharon was pretty much someone who had taken the wrong job from her casting agent, slender, blonde and with little tiny arms. Everyone, even the bigger "Ayrshire mooths", were worried for Sharons safety, and sure enough, after ten seconds...Sharon had won the fight, knocking Michelle out cold with the old "shut your eyes and hope for the best" right cross. And out cold, an overused term, Michelle truly was, not moving, her sturdy tree trunk legs now made of stone, her last remaining tooth threatening to make a run for the exits. It took, Dad said, her girlfriend and a bucket of smelling salts to revive her from her dreams of chips and lager, and of course the crowd was getting stuck into her, giving her the slowhand clap and preparing the thumbs down. Sharon had done a bolt obviously. When Michelle came too, Dad said the first thing she said was "I fuckin slipt!" and, upon hearing the crowds jeering of her, began going around the ring, on trying to on unsteady legs, just chanting to everyone "I fuckin slipt!". This went on for a couple of minutes, until eventually she said in a dignity reclaiming move, "Anybody that hinks I didnae fuckin slipt gets a fuckin punch in the head right now!"...no one ventured any other opinion after that that wasn't she fuckin slipt, and to further regain her dignity, she jumped Sharon in the car park afterwards and beat her up. Of so she told everyone down at the Firkin Feathers in Kilwinning for about the next twenty years...she's probably still there if you ask nicely. We used to go there to play pinball instead of going to school....yes Michelle, you fuckin slipt...we heard...

So I kept on walking around today, I was really thinking a lot about wounded pride and being embarrassed and how you recover from it. We had a mate who fell down the hill at a wedding and when his Mum asked if he was OK he said "No, I've lost...my dignity"...the bee was on her lunch break, was kind of strange, seeing a woman in a bee costume chowing down on some noodles, you think she'd have taken the head off. As it happened though, I could see beyond her (and it wasn't easy) to a couple sitting having potato wedges and some sort of sloppy cream in the middle of the food court. They weren't talking, well, she wasn't talking, a black haired young girl with anxious eyes, a pink T-shirt with a mildly offensive slogan, and a tired exhausted expression. He was talking, not just his incredibly loud silver shirt with the triangle pattern, but words, words of hate, words of a man unhappy with everything, especially the quality of the wedges. His wife, I presume, wasn't really listening, she was a million miles away, mentally long ago having checked out, while he began miming how wedges should apparently be cooked to no one in particular. I noticed his wife was eyeing a much cuter and younger guy about two tables down, but the husband couldn't see that, obsessed as he was with his muttering about his day and the quality of wedges from long ago. Tediously, he got up to complain, complain to some dis-interested, dis-illusioned nineteen year old uni gap year student girl with a blonde ponytail and silver lipstick. As they had an argument over something pointless though, and silver lipstick girl mouthed some platitudes about "a serve of free peas", the wife got up, moved in a rapid, quickfire motion that belied her physical conditioning, and unseen reached into his crappy spangly sports bag and pulled out his credit card, putting into her jeans pocket. She smiled for the first time in the entire interaction, grimaced and rolled her eyes when he returned, and then smiled again, mostly in the direction of the younger man, dreaming of escaping the drudgery of wedge politics, but retaining her dignity for all to see...

I'm not sure this is a good time to be complaining about food in Australia anyway...still, at the end of the day, I'm just glad no ones making me wear a bee costume at work...the Santa hat was bad enough...

12 comments:

Bimbimbie said...

Firstly congrats on reaching 150*!*

Now that would have been good entertainment if the little brat had taken hold of a Michelle look-a-like inside the Bee's costume ... bet it wouldn't have been the Bee muttering an oath.

Jannie said...

My motivation has generally been getting whacked on the ass (sorry, "arse,")with a stick while begging for a carrot.

Tin of spam? Love the differences in our native tongues. Case-in-point, a "twat" here is always of the female persuasion. But twit is for both kinds, country and western.

Oh, an escalator isn't a fun-park ride??? So that's why they never take a ticket.

jay-sus, I bay-er staye away from Michelle in car parks, don't sound like my kind of a belle.

J-Meister

Kris said...

The Fitzgeralds' coke float was an essential part of my day from c. 1985-8.

Miladysa said...

*phew*

Brilliant from the air quotation marks, to the bee grope, slipt, wedgie threesome and Santa!

Have a great weekend :D

SuvvyGirl said...

Well the credit card will make her happy only until he gets the next bill. I"m glad I don't have to wear any kind of apparel for my job other than my own clothes. I don't think I'd fit at my desk in a bee costume.

Miles McClagan said...

Thanks, 150 was a struggle! Michelle would have calmly waited until the kid was going about his business in the car park, and then...ugly business!

I don't think the budget at my workplace seems to stretch for carrots...maybe carob? A twat in Scotland is a word for a very stupid person, usually extended with several a's in the middle...I lose the will to live on those escalators...as for Michelle, she's in Kilwinning if you want to hang out!

God, I haven't had a coke float for ages...but I was definitely a lime spider child...delicious...

My weekend will be spent doing this blog, watching cartoons and generally not moving...in other words, it'll be boss!

We had to wear orange T-shirts at work once, the same week this tank of a girl had to wear a white T-shirt at another store that was about 4 sizes too small for her...made me feel a lot better (as did the bee!)

squib said...

Oh man, I don't know what's more depressing, the giant bee or the husband and wife

Miles McClagan said...

I'd pick the husband and wife...if for no other reason than she had to go with him, at least the bee had a knockoff time...

Kath Lockett said...

My Mum was a rabbit once and I'm still requiring regular ECT to get over that one.

Miles McClagan said...

I'm quite lucky, my Mum is a sensible Glaswegian, she doesn't believe in costume based fun...or so she tells me...

Baino said...

Miley i read it but was so exhausted at the end I forgot what was at the beginning. Was this about bees? Oh no women dressed as bees? I had to dress as an Orange once for a photo shoot. Very uncomfortable but I relaxed in the knowledge that nobody would recognise me. Oh and I hate food courts.

Miles McClagan said...

It was about keeping your dignity in the work place, well, that's what I thought! I'm very tempted to ease the x-haustion round here with a cute cat picture...food courts are OK, until you have to sit on one...the ones in Manchester are ill fitting legging central...