Saturday 9 April 2016

Rise of the Grumpy Phoenix

The last time I posted this blog I was starting to feel the effects of Too Much Negative Stress. As a result I sensed that, rather than describing interesting and thought-provoking ideas and outlining entertaining experiences, I was simply complaining about things. As there is a lot in this world to complain about, I felt that I really had nothing positive to contribute to an expat blog about sandwiches. So I just sort of went into a long blog cold-storage.

But lately I’ve been reconsidering my previous decision, and I’ve decided I still have a lot to offer to the world of blogging. After all, in this current society of rampant terrorist acts, bank disasters, growing poverty, offshore tax fraud, the Internet and the Cloud controlling our finances and lives, and of course Donald Trump, a vast majority of people are pissed off about something. So why not celebrate grumpiness? While talking about lunch, of course…

Let me start with something that drives me insane on most days. I remember, way back in the days before mobile phones, the only phone calls made in public were done in phone boxes, which had the advantage of having doors which would shield the caller’s conversation from the general public. At the time phone boxes were invented, this shielding was probably intended to help the person calling hear the person called more easily. It was probably years later that another advantage of this system became obvious: the protection of the general public from having to listen to the one-sided phone conversation of a total stranger.

Mobile phones are a great invention and an absolute necessity these days. One can make phone calls, send texts, and check the Internet while away from home and the office, which usually involves being out in public. The fact that a person can sit on a bus or on a bench in a public area and communicate with an absent person by sending and receiving texts is brilliant. And the fact that a person, if they need to speak to an absent person, can find a quiet private place and phone that person is great and a real lifesaver at times. But there is absolutely no reason in the world that a person riding home from work on the bus or spending their lunch break sitting on a bench in a public garden would desire listening to the one-sided phone conversation of a total stranger.

How many times do I sit down on a public bench, unpack my lunch to eat, pull out a good book I’m reading, and settle in for a quiet lunch only to have a total stranger seat themselves next to me, pull out their phone, call somebody, and proceed to chat loudly about something completely inane and globally unimportant? Do these people think that people open their books to read in pleasantly peaceful public places because they’d really rather be listening closely to the completely irrelevant ramblings of a young woman organising a hen party or a young man relating the tedious details of his previous weekend’s entertainment or an old person shouting about where they’re going to meet their other half, over and over and over again? What about the woman who spent the entire bus trip shouting on the phone to some male relative about what he should be giving her child to eat?
I don’t hesitate, when this sort of thing happens, to immediately pack up my lunch, grab my stuff, and move, or else simply move to another part of the bus, sometimes even downstairs if I’m sitting upstairs. But I shouldn’t have to do this. Why can’t these egocentric rude people go find a private spot to have their conversations, or at least keep their public conversations short? Is it because they’re so egotistical that they think everybody in the city will be dying to hear about their experience trying to return a pair of shoes to a shop? Or what about the intricate details of their recent meal down to every ingredient that was used, or the details, including account numbers, balances, and passwords of their bank accounts? Yes, I’ve even heard that, from only a couple of feet away.

Maybe I’ll start taking taxis and eating my lunch in a cave.

Speaking of lunch, I am at home on the weekend. And my lunch is some homemade tapenade (I call it Drunken Tapenade, because it has a good hit of brandy) with brie in a warmed-up wrap with a few pumpkin seeds sprinkled in. It’s quite nice and just enough to propel me out into the world to spend the rest of my day off performing even more mundane tasks than I’ve already performed today. I always save the best till last…

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