Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Student's Union Councillor

“Here, that microphone was supposed to be returned by 11am” began the voicemail. I’ve learned through experience that anybody who starts a sentence with the word ‘Here’ will always be difficult. Attacking a man on the telephone when you know he’s hungover is cruel but leaving it in a voicemail is cowardly. I wouldn’t have minded as much if I hadn’t to wait hours the previous day to get a hold of it. 11.03 in the AM and she’s already on my case.

Their offices look like something a five year old would design. There’s pink walls, huggie pencils and posters everywhere. There’s a shelf full of opened envelopes and an unlimited supply of sellotape. Picture a crèche without the coloured balls. They have “campaigns” to get in and they were persistently bullied throughout school. They are Students Union representatives and they sit there, eating Haribo, full of their own importance.

All set for a long and prosperous career in HR they spend their entire work day either shaking their heads or passing the buck. They are the people responsible for Jock Soc, Block Soc, Dock Soc and Lock Soc. Hundreds of thousands of taxpayer’s Euros wasted on these societies whose sole purpose is to provide logo-ed hoodies, facepaint and rented bouncing castles. I recently had to hire a microphone from these kids and good Jesus was it vexing.

“Is this for the LGBT night?!” asked one boy excitedly with neatly folded hair. There are a lot of these acronyms in college and despite being tired of them I had to ask him what that was in English. “Oh it stands for the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender society.” In the moment of insultation I weakly used the acronym myself in demanding “Why, do I strike you as an LGBT?”

I was hurt yet unsure which of the four I best represent. College is all about overcoming social adversity. With the bullies weeded out, people are free to be young free and gay. Having social charisma is about being different. I sometimes wonder if I was less normal would I become more popular. I’m not an L a G a B or even a T and I still can’t see the hilarity in Ultimate Frisbee.

I did eventually get the microphone back, albeit in three journeys. Her face became more disgruntled on each of my reappearances. Maybe the more she sat and glazed expectantly the quicker and more efficient she thought I would become?

The one time I actually required her services she was gone. I planned to collect my deposit after the final leg of the microphone returning shift but sure enough all that was left was a burly, curly-haired assistant. I looked around in confusion, like a dog that’s lost his ball. “There’s a very important meet-e-onay going on in there.” He was like Ned Flanders trapped in the body of Leo Cullen. The one administrative service I required was put on hold because of the very important meeting - probably to decide if the walls should be painted yellow next year.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The unknown victim

We live in a society that demands shoes taken off at the front door. We are all au fait with our coats being taken as a house guest, just look at 'Come dine with me'. But it won’t be long, I predict, before you hear the phrase ‘Can I take your shoes?’ upon house entry. For a long time now I have automatically taken my shoes off when entering my home. This may seem daft to some but for the rest it’s normality. Today, I’m regretting my stance on this issue.

One of the best forms of adrenaline is that which comes from the moment when you know ‘this is going to hurt’. Climbing smugly down the attic stairs following an impressive darts session, the glee was quickly wiped off my face as my feet went from under me. I crashed through the half-open door like a first-and-goal running back to hear the yelps of ‘Are you all right?’ 0.25 sec after I hit the ground. You’re never quite sure if you are in fact all right until about 5 seconds after. All you can do is let your senses reset and hope that you’re not greeted with agony on the other side. Thankfully today there was nothing broken. Just a few grazes but they never get any commiseration.

In these moments of hilarious stupidity I always rue my habit of wearing socks indoors. I fall down the stairs about twice yearly and every single time it is for that reason. Gasping in a heap all I can do is cuss the lack of grip with which my socks permit me. I could consider buying those slipper socks but a vague recollection tells me they were pants not to mention shoe unfriendly. No point wearing socks that you can’t wear shoes over I say.

When it comes to spills we all have fond memories of the RTE news ice faller but spare a thought for those who didn’t get the limelight. On Christmas Day last year while most were eating pudding or unwrapping bad gifts, I fell twice in as many roads unnoticed. In one footstep I went from perfectly upright to flat on my back. Duncan Stewart tells us that ‘gas is a silent killer’ but that ice is no godsend either.

In 2005 ice broke my elbow after it turned over my moped on a trip to DIT. Two doors down from my house, I swore like a Chinese rapist through my fogged up helmet. Abandoning both bike and reason, I stormed back to the house while the wheels spun and the engine continued purring in the background.

Society demands injury for sympathy and I’ve learned from experience that my recent slip will go largely uncommiserated. ‘Show me the wounds and I’ll show you my pity’ is the general consensus I have found and without a sling I am but an unknown victim. I urge those of you who un-shoe to take care around the house. Carpeted stairs are particularly hazardous.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Life as a layabout.

It’s quite the fright you get when you open your curtains in the morning and there’s a man staring back at you. I’m not sure who got more of a scare but I guess he certainly had more to lose. If you get a fright on a ladder it’s a long way down, although my head went perilously close to the roof. Washing windows is not a noble profession but the last thing you want is a person looking out at you suddenly from the inside. It makes the job a whole lot worse.

We all have unfond memories of hard labour but I think I might be allergic. One of the reasons I stayed in college so long is the sheer threat of getting up in the morning and having to go ‘ta wurk’. Women love men who can put up a shelf yet I can barely put out the bins. Manual labour may make you more masculine but it seems like the pursuit of the mindless. It’s all 6am starts and carvarys at noon, sweating your way through the day.

I once had to dig up Harolds Cross greyhound track and I don’t think I’ve ever recovered. In and out of tractors, cutting your hand twice an hour and wanting to punch someone on your way home was the customary day. Wearing your worst Adidas bottoms and a pair of your old runners it’s seems like after the first couple of minutes you couldn’t wait for a shower. Maybe it could be your calling in life but the only thing I could hear were swear words.

“Don’t mind me” he says, barging through the door of my room. To be fair this chap was a gentleman. Watching Racing UK in my boxers and scoffing a bowl of Raisin Splitz at 11am, he must have thought I was an absolute layabout. Yet he didn’t pass any comment. He was a man at work and I wasn’t many grades up from a corpse. We shared a delicate few minutes as he washed the inside windows and I lay in silence. I thought about making conversation but my self esteem was not at its highest. In fact the only steam apparent was that which left my ears on his departing comment.

“Good night.”

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Close call with a phony thief

Its 5am and the warm November Tenerife sun is about to come out. I'm stood outside a house waiting for the kind soul who 'happened upon' my phone to return it and am looking forward to getting home after another very drunken night which begun and ended as a solo excursion.

'I believe you lost your phone mate?' the guy says as both statement and question. Tiresome, drunken and altogether fed up I can only nod in agreement. He gives me a consoling look and begins walking in the direction of a nearby gateway to an apartment complex. We share some small talk for both situation and language constraint reasons as villain number two enters the set shielded by the black gate.

Carrying what looks like an ice cream tub, my latest villain is of Romanian descent. 'You want your phone back, you pay me 400' he begins whilst fumbling through at least eight iPhones in the tub. In the moment of exasperation all I could do was remember back to only a few days previous when I heard a radio discussion panel declaring that swinging an iPhone around at night-time was the equivalent of waving around a €300 banknote.

Crestfallen, indignant and more than a little annoyed with myself I pull out €180 from my pocket in partial belief the thief would be treating himself to some cash as well.

But sometimes the storm eases when you fear it's at its worst. There would be respite on this occasion and I guess I should be thankful that thieves are still as thick as ever. I'd be getting my phone back instead of the more obvious route of getting robbed for the lot.

At this point, rather hilariously, we had to figure out which of the stolen iPhones was actually mine. After a while of looking at photos of cats and strangers' girlfriends eventually he got up a photo of a car I had recently taken and I declared 'That’s mine'. As he handed me back the phone I correct myself by saying 'the phone not the car' with a giggle in a transaction which could only be reserved for absolute rage.

On the face of it I'd certainly prefer to lose the €180 than the phone and as a budding optimist that's the reflection I'll leave with. Yes I should have called the police. Yes I was being an idiot. But also yes to the capacity for rational thought and safe guarding of phones waning after the last of the '3 shots & 3 cocktails for 3 euro' is sunk.

Maybe you might learn something from my mistake. Hopefully I will.