Mid-20s Malaise

Struggling against the inevitable since 1986!

National Bookshop Day

Today is National Bookshop Day and, in honour of this event, my friend Holly suggested I post a story that originally appeared on my blog on my MySpace profile (remember them?) way back in 2007. At the time, I was working at a bookshop. Now, bookshops are often wonderful places that deserve to be celebrated on a day like today. They are also cesspools of almost bottomless misery, usually staffed by capable and almost embarrassingly overqualified people. I have worked in bookshops and record stores, and rather than being a chance to connect with people through the art forms I love, these jobs always prove to be the same as any other retail job: boring and often demeaning. Nowadays, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry when I watch a show like Black Books, because it’s closer to reality than to sature. With that in mind, I give you the words of my 21-year-old self who was, surprisingly, even more bitter than the man I am today:

Working in the humiliating torture world of retail, I encounter a lot of idiots. And by that, I mean people who are rude jerks, and people who are actually mentally deficient in some way. Well, not officially mentally deficient, just dumb. We actually have one guy working in the stock room who is developmentally disabled, and he usually behaves better and understands faster than some of the fools I have to be polite to just because they have a black American Express card.

Anyway, just when I thought my hatred for humanity could not be increased, a man rolled into the store today on a Segway. Yes, a Segway. For the uninitiated, this is what a Segway looks like:

And this is what a person on a Segway looks like:

Fucking stupid, that’s what. The Segway’s official website is full of ridiculous corporate babble that tells you nothing, but somehow I managed to learn that the Segway contains two tilt sensors and five gyroscopes, as well as two computers which, based on what they learn from the tilt sensors and gyroscopes, adjust the motors thousands of times per second. All of this results in the Segway managing to stay upright, and the driver being able to move forward or backward by leaning forward or backward respectively, and likewise for turning left or right.

I am not the first person to point out that a small third wheel could have done the same thing for millions of dollars less.

Anyway, this dickhead comes rolling into the store and pulls up in front of the information desk, slowly rocking back and forth as he comes to a stop as though he were reigning in a horse. But he wasn’t. He was a grown man, riding a very expensive scooter. I was so flabbergasted to actually see one of these stupid things, let alone in a store, that I was dumbstruck. I imagine I looked like some dribbling bogan, bored and confused in an economics lecture. Fortunately, my co-slave Elicia stepped in.

“Can I help you, sir?” she asked, and didn’t laugh at all.

“Yes,” this man called down from his mighty chariot. “I have a book on hold.”

Elicia found the book, and the man slowly backed away on his jerk mobile and parked it between a table and a pillar, both of them displaying books. He briefly alighted from his vehicle, blessing the ground of our store with the touch of his feet, to make a phone call. He then got back on his Segway, and turned it around to leave the store. In doing so, he knocked an entire row of Lee Childs’ new novel Bad Luck And Trouble onto the floor. (The title of the book isn’t really relevant – I just wanted to include some facts to demonstrate that this isn’t all made up. Also, an entire row consists of twelve books.) He did this and kept on rolling, oblivious to the unnecessary mess he had created.

“Sir!” yelled my manager, Kristen. An assertive woman at the best of times, she was having a bad day and was in no mood to deal with dickheads like this one. “You can’t ride that in here,” she told him. He begrudgingly got off the Segway and walked it out of the store, having the nerve to shoot her filthies as she picked up the books he had scattered.

I understand that some people have trouble walking, due to disability, lack of limbs or gross obesity, but this man suffered from none of these (unless you count a lack of manners, a comb over and a beer gut). Why would you  you take this cumbersome device into Pitt Street Mall – one of the busiest areas in Sydney on a week day – and compete with buskers, shoppers, escalators, beggars, bins, benches, trees and rain? (N.B. It was raining today.) Not only that, but he was dressed in a way that suggests he works in an office. When I spent a day at The Drum Media‘s office, I look forward to going for a walk to the supermarket or the cafe to get my lunch. “Aah, a bit of exercise!” I think to myself. “Get some fresh air, move my muscles and give my heart something to do!”

Not for Mr Wankalot on his steely steed. In fact, Dean Kamen, the creator of the Segway, has been quoted as saying that “walking is a remnant of the Dark Ages, an unpleasant time-waster that technology need eradicate”. So what does Sir Shitfest plan to do to save his walking time? Run over women and small children to reach his destination faster? When you’re in a crowded shopping mall, you can only move as fast as the pedestrians clogging your path. In fact, I would say you go slower, seeing as you cannot dart around plodders as I can, being young and lithe (but decreasingly so).

At this point, Andrew P Street or Bronwyn Bron Jovi would bring this blog entry together with some devastatingly witty comment that made you ponder life and existence and purpose. Not me. All I want to say is people are worthless cunts, and my only hope is that, since this knob-jockey wasn’t wearing a helment, he will be thrown from his Segway and crushed and killed beneath a bus, a horse or a similarly sensible mode of transportation.

What a tosser.

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