It’s far too warm in Australia, yet we’re wrapped up with far too many layers of government. We’re set up in such a way that we have a federal government looking after the country as a whole, a state government who look after each state, and then a local council government looking after main cities/towns/districts within the states.

As voting is compulsory at all levels in QLD and NSW (I believe other states only have to vote at State and Federal elections), I’ve recently started getting repetitive strain injury from having to place my vote at so many polling booths already this year. We’ve just had the state election, now onto the local council election and in a few months time we’ll then have the federal election.

I can see the need for both state and federal governments, despite the fact it creates some annoying inconsistencies between the states which should be perhaps eradicated at a federal level, but that’s by the by.

I’m just starting to feel suffocated with the amount of different government bodies we have to vote for at different layers of government. Sure, I get that it’s a democracy, but I don’t see the point of compulsory voting for us to choose at the local council level. I think other states have got it right with it being voluntary.

If you’re going to make it compulsory, could it not just be part of the state elections? Are local councils not looking after major cities/districts WITHIN the state? Could they not just put a sub-section on the ballot paper where we can vote for local council candidates at state elections ? Would it not save paper and people’s time? Or is it really a money-making exercise to run so many elections in a year that people start getting a little sick of having to plan their time around them, so would rather be fined $20 for not voting? I’m sure the amount of $20 they raise from people who are voter fatigued is a nice little nest egg.

If not using a sub-section for local government when voting at state elections to bring them in line with one another, then could we not have the state governments look after and appoint their own candidates to look after each main section that local government currently look after? To me, they look as though they belong in the same bucket.

For example, state governments generally look after:

- public hospitals
– conservation
– fire brigade
– main roads
– emergency services
– education and
– railways.

while local goverments generally look after:

- community facilities
– libraries
– parks
– sewerage
– waste disposal
– animal control
– planning
– local roads and
– building approvals.

Let’s scale back the government a bit and have a state government who’s responsibility expands across all of the above items. It’s up to the states to then appoint their own local representatives to look after those items in each of major cities and districts for ease of control.

Perhaps giving too much power to a major political party might make us worse off but maybe the fact state government is more concentrated, people would consider their vote more carefully and maybe, just maybe, the local councils will have greater control placed over them with less of a chance of them going broke as they tend to do. Though the same can be said perhaps for state governments!

Maybe for now we should take baby steps and start with ballot papers at state elections to include a subsection on local governments. That way we have better transparency of all the layers of government and democracy is still intact, yes?  Then perhaps those parties could actually campaign together rather than us seeing those sad individuals sitting on corners with their deckchairs and signs for months on end. Would it cause confusion with voters on who’s who? Maybe, but perhaps it’s worth at least trying first.

The majority of people I’ve spoken to in the last week about the local council elections this weekend don’t really have a clue who they want to vote for, seeing as the state elections happened only a few weeks ago. No one has paid attention so is it really worth having them separated and having us vote on who should now be mayor? Could it even negate democracy when we don’t care in the first instance?

If putting them together, there’s more of a chance that there would be increased awareness of each candidate and party; who they are, what they stand for and how they are supposedly going to change the local world we live in. It’s much like opening a door and letting a fresh breeze blow through all the stuffy polling booths we’ve been wrapped up in.

Perhaps we do need the layers of government for now but how about we just thin them out a little so that we can breathe in between the requirement for our vote at too many elections. However,  if it really doesn’t make a difference with voter fatigue, transparency of local government, and general levels of giving a shit, then might I suggest we leave the appointment of local councils up to the state governments as a next step or make voting voluntary at the local council level!

 

This is a subject I’m particularly passionate about now. Having been working in the manufacturing industry, my eyes have been opened widely to this sector. Perhaps before these times I was somewhat ignorant to the issues in Australia’s grocery market and the real truth behind our supermarket giants. Pleasing it is now to see so much more media coverage on the issues we face in Australia around price wars between Coles and Woolworths and their ever increasing private label shelf space.

I am quite certain that should this issue not be addressed in the near future, Australia will have no manufacturers which will continue to result in a lot more of what we’ve recently seen: the 300-800 per factory workforce will lose their jobs – ergo higher unemployment rates all round. The rather extreme and potential domino effect this could have on an already strained Australian economy seems to be in utter blindness by the every day person.

So my main focus here is to open people’s eyes to the squeeze out of branded products for the less quality home-brand products these supermarkets own (private label). This is the pivotal point in what could end up being a country in which the supermarket giants have full shelf space for all their own products, something which they’ve achieved over time from  pushing the prices of their products down to encourage punters, who are already struggling living in the most expensive economy in the world, to buy these cheaper products. The more these cheaper and inferior products are purchased, the more harder it is for manufacturers of branded, high quality products to negotiate with these colossal players in trying to get their product out the door and into consumers homes – an appropriate pun here would be that this is a manufacturer’s bread and butter and they cannot function or exist in an environment where there is no where to sell their product! Therefore, the only option left to them in this scenario is to either  shut down or move off shore – thus we then have 300-800 people losing their jobs at once. Multiply this then by the amount of manufacturers in Australia having to follow suit, and we have a lot of people even poorer than they started.

Another point I’d like to make is – what is then stopping Woolworths and Coles once they have achieved 100% shelf space for their own products, to then RAISE prices because we’re all 100% dependent on them to supply us with food! What then? And what other markets will they start focusing on. They are then becoming the Pinky and the Brain of our world. Those 300-800 people per factory who don’t have a job are then somehow supposed to afford this?

One of the more fascinating battles last year was between Woolworths and Coca-Cola Amatil over trading terms, which led to lower sales for both, according to analysts. It also raised the question: if Coke does not have the power to stare down Woolworths, who does?

Foster’s, now owned by SABMiller, was forced to take matters into its own hands last year and pull key beer brands, including VB, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde, from Coles and Woolworths, after learning of a blitz promotion to sell beer at below the wholesale price of $33.

The uproar shed light on other business practices that do not have the same profile.

This includes hardball tactics like ”cliffing”, in which suppliers are allegedly forced to bid for their existing shelf space and risk losing the lot to a higher bidder.

This practice apparently led to the disappearance of Greenseas Tuna from Coles shelves last year to make way for John West and Coles home-brand products. – via smh.com.au (“It’s all shelf interest in a price war”)

The two major problems for our future economy, amidst many others, from a flow-on effect of this nature would be:

1. High unemployment rates and increased poverty

2. in-affordable food supply, which, alongside number 1, means we’re back in the great depression.

These giants clearly have far too much power already. I would plead the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission to start placing restrictions on this duopoly on shelf space, price wars, alongside bringing out legislation to better control this level of power, but I know that it’s also their fault for allowing so many mergers and acquisitions to occur with these companies in the first place! The ACCC have been part of the problem. In fact it’s almost like that age old question you ask when people create roles for themselves – “what do you really do anyway??” As they certainly don’t live up to what you would think.

Maybe the Australia Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) would have a better grasp on these matters!

The AFGC has campaigned for the appointment of a supermarket ombudsman to oversee the relationship between the supermarkets and suppliers, as well as legislation to limit what is seen as the most troubling issue: the supermarkets’ encroachment on shelf space with home-brand products.

Ms Carnell says the AFGC is advocating a legislated limit of 30 per cent shelf space for the supermarkets home brands.

An analogy is being drawn with Telstra in the way it owned the copper pipes and competed in the pipe with rivals like Optus. This raises issues such as equity of access.

“We’d argue it is exactly the same scenario here – Coles and Woolworths own the pipe,” says Ms Carnell. – via smh.com.au (“It’s all shelf interest in a price war“)

And don’t get me started on Telstra…that’s another, yet similar story as you can see, but I’ll leave that for another time.

To put this all into perspective, consider the fact these giants own 87% of the grocery market in Australia. Then look at the US with Walmart, who should admittedly be claimed as being the largest retailer in the world. Walmart only operates as about 13% of the grocery market in comparison.

If Coles and Woolies aren’t going to let any other players into the market by behaving like angry bulls in a barber shop, then they should be regulated. Plain and simple. Without competition we have over-powered players that will lead our economy into a cold, dark place, all for the sake of what more they can put into their back pockets.

Like major armies on the march, Coles and Woolworths first establish a beachhead in a particular targeted sector of the economy and then spread out to take more and more territory in that sector until they are either stopped or they march their way to “victory.” Once victorious they can impose their “way” on those they deal with, including suppliers and even consumers. – via thepunch.com.au (“The death of brands is much closer than you think”)

All I can suggest to everyone is: Don’t buy private label. Support your manufacturers and the brands you grew up with, even though it might be $2 more you’re paying for a better quality product. The long term effects could be far greater than the short term expense if you don’t.

These are the people in our lives who are winy, needy, manipulative,  negative. They hide behind hyperbole, make the proverbial mountains out of mole hills, storms in teacups, drama for drama’s sake. They are the dependents of attention, and it’s their heroin. You are their drug dealer. They’ll leech off you for all you’ve got and keep coming back for more.

Personally, I am a very independent person. I am not needy. I like my own space and appreciate my alone time. I make up my mind, I’ll follow through on my own decisions and make choices for myself with little help from others. I have my own tastes and opinions that I’ve developed from doing my own research.

As a result, I strongly respect: people for being themselves. People who make their own decisions and are proactively going about their lives doing what they need to do. Those who don’t have astronomically high expectations that they place on others, they instead take people at face value and get to know them. They appreciate their lot, however big or small and have a well-balanced perception on life.

I disrespect, in contrast to the above: people who leech off of others – are a ‘friend’ only because of the benefit(s) they can gain from that individual, be it stealing friends, ideas, thoughts, tastes, preferences, an entire identity! Those who can’t make a decision for themselves and instead rely on others to provide a solution to them. Those who take advantage of others, take people for granted, and don’t pitch in and contribute when they should.

These toxic people follow you, latch onto your aura, and drain you of all the energy you have through their negative disposition on life. They’re lazy and require you to fix every little problem. They’ll over-react when you confront them reasonably to make them see the error of their ways and give them the opportunity to improve themselves, become self-aware. They will always save face.

The world is theirs and they won’t share, but will expect you to! You must move out of the way and accommodate them as they’re the self-appointed kings or queens of the castle that shouldn’t have to pick up after themselves.

Everything is generally just ‘too hard’ for them. They see the absolute worst in every new situation, and often get angry because they see the world  as being a monstrous evil entity who’s soul purpose is to ensure they end up getting a seat in the very last row. They’ll become all too consumed about this constant battle with life, which causes them to pre-judge everyone in placing them in categorical buckets, with labels such as “typical”.

Their manipulative side involves using indirect questions, while smiling slyly and side-ways,  that essentially ask something they know you will rise to or will make you feel uncomfortable answering. Mostly these questions they already know the answer to, which is blatant in their approach, but they’ll ask them to provoke. The only thing you can do is show that you’re above them and won’t bite back by answering straight-forward, matter-of-factly in confidence and then walk away hoping you’ve left them unsatisfied. You have to be a rock, where their bullshit is without meaning and washes over you as water.

No matter what you say or do, they will talk about you to others in a negative light even to make people dislike you. But you know at least, this will be the case for everyone they talk about. You know because you’ve seen it for yourself.

They will get a kick out of seeing you suffer too – not by any of their own doing but by any sort of misfortune or bad situation you might find yourself in, merely because suddenly you’re just like them and they feel less alone in the world with their over-exaggerated darkness. They can’t picture the future, or think of it as a bright sunny place of hope and light where “everything will be better some day” or “something to work towards”. Instead they see it much like the present – all too hard and won’t be able to cope on their own. As for the past, this is the root-cause of their overall bitterness, which is the tainted veil they wear to see everything else through, molding the present as a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In dealing with these people (I was seeking advice), apparently the best thing to do is avoid them as much as possible and set firm boundaries. Sure, I concur with this, but find that piece of advice over-simplistic and certainly dependent on how deep these people have weaseled their way into your life. They can begin much like an a-symptomatic virus, upon which it’s then far too late once it’s taken a hold of you to cure it with a quick fix.

If these people are ingrained into your every day life, they’ll constantly put non-existent petty problems onto you. You’re seen to them as the main problem-solver, the sound of logic, the voice of reason which they make repeat visits like you’re their shrink. All small issues are just not possible for them to get their head around and they need you. Once you’ve fixed things for them, you won’t hear from them again until the next issue. Much like a young child tripping over a twig onto a concrete path, wailing in pain and needing a band-aid. Once kissed better, they’ll skip merrily along a few steps until tripping over another.

Generally, this petty behaviour is attributed to their overall immaturity and inexperience in life. Irrespective of their physical age, this is a mental state and these people will be present in any age groups.

Like children, they’ll expect you to do everything for them and make you out to be at serious fault if you breach their terms. They will take what they can from you out of expectation, but will never give back on the reciprocal. Their contribution is small scale in comparison to yours. Just like an infant, they always will always voice their complaints through imprudent whinging, determined to make the world see their suffering and pity them as a victim. Tantrum if they must, they will usually be slammers and chuckers, and will break anything that’s not working for them.

Their constant disagreements altogether are like a heavy blanket that they throw over you, suffocating your happiness and blocking out your light. If you’re a giver, they’ll have a feast much like a mosquito to a blood bath. Although so unsatisfied within themselves and their own set of circumstances, they will disregard even the slight premise that they are in any way responsible for their current state of affairs. The blame is on others, or inanimate objects even, if there wasn’t an actual person involved. They’ll make a spectacle out of blaming others using hyperbole, to the point of preposterous.

Sadly, they’ll never take responsibility for this self-fulfilling prophecy of their own creation and, much like a black hole, will continue to feed and consume off everyone around them. They’ll never change, they’ll remain in a constant state of dissatisfaction, unless something real and cataclysmic actually happens and awakens them from their downright pettiness and mole-hilled mountains.

A black hole of society. A leech. A phony. Avoid if you can, stay strong if you can’t.

hh apr6 p.jpg

His poem, “What Must Be Said,” is overtly and boldly political. It is not exactly the prettiest prose in its original German, and the English doesn’t read much better. Translating it below, I’ve tried to untangle some of the needlessly Teutonic constructions where it doesn’t undo the deliberately winding and parenthetical tone too much. Even more concise German can sound circuitous to an English ear, but Grass’s writing here is an extreme example. The poem is, from a purely communicative standpoint, a relatively inefficient denunciation — akin to writing up a paragraph of solid reasoning and then cutting it up and sticking little bits in fortune cookies.

What Must Be Said

Why do I stay silent, conceal for too long

What clearly is and has been

Practiced in war games, at the end of which we as survivors

Are at best footnotes.

It is the alleged right to first strike

That could annihilate the Iranian people–

Enslaved by a loud-mouth

And guided to organized jubilation–

Because in their territory,

It is suspected, a bomb is being built.

Yet why do I forbid myself

To name that other country

In which, for years, even if secretly,

There has been a growing nuclear potential at hand

But beyond control, because no inspection is available?

The universal concealment of these facts,

To which my silence subordinated itself,

I sense as incriminating lies

And force–the punishment is promised

As soon as it is ignored;

The verdict of “anti-Semitism” is familiar.

Now, though, because in my country

Which from time to time has sought and confronted

Its very own crime

That is without compare

In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also

With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares

A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,

Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence

Of a single atomic bomb is unproven,

But as a fear wishes to be conclusive,

I say what must be said.

Why though have I stayed silent until now?

Because I thought my origin,

Afflicted by a stain never to be expunged

Kept the state of Israel, to which I am bound

And wish to stay bound,

From accepting this fact as pronounced truth.

Why do I say only now,

Aged and with my last ink,

That the nuclear power of Israel endangers

The already fragile world peace?

Because it must be said

What even tomorrow may be too late to say;

Also because we–as Germans burdened enough–

Could be the suppliers to a crime

That is foreseeable, wherefore our complicity

Could not be redeemed through any of the usual excuses.

And granted: I am silent no longer

Because I am tired of the hypocrisy

Of the West; in addition to which it is to be hoped

That this will free many from silence,

That they may prompt the perpetrator of the recognized danger

To renounce violence and

Likewise insist

That an unhindered and permanent control

Of the Israeli nuclear potential

And the Iranian nuclear sites

Be authorized through an international agency

By the governments of both countries.

Only this way are all, the Israelis and Palestinians,

Even more, all people, that in this

Region occupied by mania

Live cheek by jowl among enemies,

And also us, to be helped.

via Gunter Grass’s Controversial Poem About Israel, Iran, and War, Translated – Heather Horn – International – The Atlantic.

This is a bold topic for me to delve into, but is something that, like every other person, I think about these days quite regularly.

It just so happened that I read a couple of articles/pages today out of just skimming through normal news headlines. I’m not sure how it happened that my reading was drawn towards these issues, but I would assume it has something to do with the amount of news coverage that has built and is still building around nuclear warfare.

We live in a time of fear where large governments, with large amounts of power, have big red buttons at their disposal to be pushed if “the going gets tough”. No longer is it a world where, being as youthful as I am, I would say I don’t want to have children because they’re smelly, scream a lot and will devoid my life of all elements of fun, but upon moving into my 26th year and realising I might consider them as an option in my 30’s, I am now starting to see it is now a world where I wouldn’t want to chance having children AT ALL, given the current state of affairs. Plus I may not even live to 30 if the world is obliterated!

I like living in Australia. I’m a proud Australian. I especially like the freedoms we have, and I suppose my naive view was that our government would support the things that matter as we’re a strong true blue nation that is always calling a spade a spade. But as I move into my 26th year it seems my eyes continue to open to the events around me, and I am consistently finding that’s not the case with our current circus-style government. I can’t really tell the difference between either of the major parties anymore and then the independents seem to come across as a joke, well in local politics anyway.

Anyway, without digressing too far in listing all the the things that matter which I think our government should be focussing on right now, I’ll instead talk to just one that is in the forefront of my mind right now, and that’s supporting an International Nuclear Weapons Convention.

I would suggest further reading on:

http://www.icanw.org.au/convention

But the main points discussed on producing this treaty are (and this is pulled from that site, not my words):

  1. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons calls on all nations to negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention (NWC) to ban nuclear weapons and ensure their elimination.
  2. The NWC would prohibit the development, testing, production, stockpiling, transfer, use and threat of use of nuclear weapons, as well as the production of fissile material suitable for making them (either highly enriched uranium or separated plutonium).
  3. The NWC would establish an agency to ensure that countries comply with the terms of the treaty.
  4. In 2007 ICAN launched Securing Our Survival (SOS): The Case for a Nuclear Weapons Convention. It reflects on the changed global security environment and answers critical questions relating to the process of nuclear disarmament. ICAN calls on all countries immediately to commence negotiations for an NWC. We believe it is an idea whose time has come.

There are 146 governments in the world out of 194 in support of this. Unfortunately our government in Australia is sitting “on the fence”. The site goes into further detail explaining why this is so and what efforts Australia is doing in the short term vs longer term. We are apparently in support of this in the longer term but will not advocate negotiating a treaty right now. I can’t think of any time more crucial than the present!! This was also a political promise out of electing the labour government into power!

Then I read on ThePunch about a conspiracy that our government has been using our taxes to invest in companies that manufacture nuclear weapons. Of course I am reading this with an open mind, as some of the companies listed (i.e.  Babcock International, Boeing, Honeywell International, Rockweel Collins  and Rolls Royce) also manufacture other materials/products – i.e. planes and cars etc. I would like to think on principle, the investment in these companies was around their mainstream products. However, also in principle, if these companies are also involved in other such ventures should this not be formed as part of the decision making process when channeling tax payers money from the Future Fund into said companies? From, say, an ethical standpoint?

It disgusts me at the thought that my hard-earned bucks (the $1500 odd I spend a month on tax!) is channeled into companies involved in such ventures that keep me slightly on edge during my everyday living!

I wish that our government would see this as a more serious issue. Interesting enough on the ICAN website, it also shows what governments are NOT in support of establishing a treaty. That would of course be all the major countries such as Europe, the US, Russia, Iran, and Iraq. What’s the bet that Australia is ‘on the fence’ because of this? It always appears that we take the most diplomatic neutral approach to kiss the toes and stay mates with the bigger powers of the world. Smart to an extent perhaps, but when are we going to stand on our own two feet and declare what we feel and think without worrying about the other big cheeses??

I totally agree that there is no real purpose of having nuclear bombs other than wreaking havoc and destroying humanity. I believe an international nuclear weapons convention that does all of the above is a step closer to having less fear in the world with less big governments such as those above who have big red buttons in front of them that they can press at any time.

Also, is uranium not yet ANOTHER resource we’re sucking out of the Earth alongside oil?? When both resources are depleted, what then? Or will we already have destroyed ourselves before we’ve destroyed the planet?

If big powerful governments can’t use the materials they’re sucking out of the earth responsibly and for a real purpose other than creating war (i.e. is nuclear not energy we can use outside of electricity as well as space rockets/exploration and other means?), then that responsibility should be taken away from them.

An analogy for me that fits this scenario is, if you give a toddler a sharp object, chances are they’re going to hurt themselves and not use it for any real intended purpose other than inflicting pain. You wouldn’t really give it to them in the first place. Clearly we’re not evolved enough as a species to use the big risky things effectively and responsibly.

Humanity is just a toddler really in the scheme of things and needs to perhaps take a step back until it overcomes the urge to kill one another.

Warning: The below content will be a rant. Filled with juicy cynicism with a side serving of rage. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

OKAY! So for a moment, let’s forget the fact there are LINES on the road and let’s just put in place a complete road-anarchy where we all drive where we like, on whichever side of the road we like, and cut all corners out completely. Let’s just DRIVE and see what happens… Weee!!

Do you picture, in this moment, a chaotic bloodied mess with smashed glass, dented bonnets, buckled wheels, doors coming off hinges, steam, smoke and flames, and people who can no longer be identified by their passport photo? I do!

This rant begins from me stopping at one of those traffic light intersections, which are singular lane/one lane on the road type scenarios much like this:

(ignore the fact this diagram is driving on the right side of the road like they do in France, it was a cut and paste job)

In these situations we all have to wait at the lights one behind the other, naturally, as logic would dictate…ya know?

There’s no line on the road in this instance to indicate that there are TWO lanes going forward that then have to merge as they get to the other side… there’s no merge at all because we were already all merged!! There’s no such thing as a 0.5 lane unless you chop a car in half and miraculously still drive it. It’s therefore an imaginary merge with imaginary lines which the ‘give way to who’s in front’ rule doesn’t apply as it’s ONLY ONE LANE and thus a near-miss altercation situation if you merge and over take! Hopefully you get the picture…

So what happened here, on this singular piece of logical road, was that someone crept up sneakily on the inside. At first glance I figured this would be because they’re going to turn the corner, but instead this guy kept driving straight on in order to jump in front of traffic by causing me to brake and let him in. I consequently beeped my horn at this reprehensible desperado as he cut in front of me and effectively everyone else, who were waiting patiently in single file as you would on a singular piece of road.

In response to my self-righteous air of disapproval, he threw his hand up in the air and glanced at me with such a barbaric frown, which I glimpsed in his side mirror, that I bet he probably doesn’t have to hit his wife as I’m sure that look on it’s own would inflict pain! (though I do surmise that he would be the physical sort too by the look of him!).

I guess what annoys me the most out of this entire tirade is not only did this guy feel he deserved to cut the queue like an arsehole with a sore thumb would jump in front of an invalid person in a hospital who’s been waiting desperately for hours to be seen by a surgeon because they’re about to go into cardiac-arrest as well as their leg falling off, but he also thought he was RIGHT in doing so! He did not see any error in his ways as seemed to think it was OKAY to drive alonside others on a singular piece of road. In his world, this road was made for him to do whatever the hell he wants at the expense of whoever’s headlight he happens to swipe in the process. “It’s OKAY because I was PRETENDING that there was a merge up ahead and, oh gwarsh, in my bony head they just forgot to draw the lines on! Hyuck!”

(that last bit was me trying to think like him. If you didn’t get it…)

Bottom line bucko, we all have to wait our turn in life for things to happen. From what I’ve seen, in most cases those who cut corners and rush ahead of the pack usually hit a brick wall. Only difference here is this might be quite a literal fate for you!

Rant over!

Crowds

Posted: April 1, 2012 in Ideas
Tags: , , , ,

I am one of those people who find myself dying a bit on the inside when I’m in crowded places. Whether it be in a supermarket, at a concert or in a waiting room, I feel my blood pressure incrementally rise toward that red-faced anger-breaking point as each moment passes, but I’ve never been the sort to act out on these feelings. I take the more passive-aggressive approach of just taking it and seethe.

What is it about crowds that makes me feel like the end of the world would actually be a welcome concept at that point in time?

Well I can put it down to a couple of trigger-points about the whole shebang that makes the blood simmer slightly. Although the list tends to get endless, the first one probably worth mentioning here is the inability to move, or having to be the person that moves out of the way alongside being faced with the close proximity of a stranger. The constant brushing against others when you have no idea who they are; whether they’re a nasty person that murders kittens for kicks, if they’re infested with viral bacteria with germs sitting dormant that are simply waiting for the next human to infect, or if they’re even clean and have at least showered recently. The latter is usually, of course, quite obvious and a rather regretful experience in general once you’ve come into contact.

Shopping centres would probably be the worst kind of crowd in my books and the most likely for all of the fore-mentioned issues. I am a music buff with many concerts I’ve been to and many more I intend to make an appearance at, but at least in those situations there’s always the back of the room. The slimy, sweaty, smelly, jumping, drunken yobbos can be avoided by letting them be and moving as far away as you can where there’s less chance of being trampled upon and killed. I will take the trade-off of not being able to see a band, which I adore, play their elating tunes that I’ve come so much to appreciate more than life itself right in front of me due to the 7 ft curly-haired monkey man who chose to stand in front of all the short people instead of, well…where I am!

No, shopping centres are by far worse. If you’re like me, and know exactly what it is you want, where to get it and happen to be a fast-walker, shopping centres can be a very painful experience.

If it’s busy, you have the constant negotiation with other patrons to ‘move past’ one another in a very limited space due to the amount of patrons in total occupying the space at its entirety, which seems ridiculously like enough to fill a major city. Who goes which way once you come face to face in opposite directions? Usually, it’s always going to be their self-important expectation that you’re the one who needs to veer off to the side so that they may pass to the point where you’re having to weave in and out in all directions and the room starts spinning.

Well, I’ve actually strategised a number of different approaches to combat this short exchange of limited courtesy to get to the point where you have right-of-way:

  1. Get a trolley and push it fast! No one wants to argue with what could equate to a rhino on wheels moving at the speed of a triathlete.
  2. If you’re buying something that’s large, either follow through with point 1, or, if it’s manageable to carry and you don’t want the bother of a trolley, hold it out to the front of you or to the side a bit with pride, also looking awkward as if it’s not easy to carry or move even slightly out of the way. This enlarges your overall space needed to exist, just like all the XXXXXL people around you.
  3. At a last resort, or if neither of the above can apply, start observing people’s behaviour. Most people have similar inclinations of which way they’re going to turn/walk. If you’re wanting to keep up the pace and get to where you want to go, then start judging people on not only where they’re going but where they think they’re going.  However, be mindful that there are always those last-minute-change-of-direction types that can end disastrously if you continue on your pace, misjudge and crash into said type. It’s clearly going to be all your fault and you’re probably going to have to buy them an ice cream. This is a skill which takes time and effort to develop though.

By putting these strategies in place, I’ve usually combatted the whole ‘who moves where’ scenario with success. Though there are still the few stubborn individuals who, having egos the size of movie stars with all the narcissism and self-importance to boot,  just aren’t going to budge no matter how heavy your shopping is.

Then, there’s the prams and the screaming children who seem to take up 97% of a shopping centre in general. I don’t think I even need to break down the agitation attributed to this. Screaming children – enough said.

Overall, crowds suck and I like to avoid them where I can at all costs.