Twits, making themselves undesirable and unacceptable on the various social sites, appear to be on the increase – or is it my imagination? Sometime soon I’m sure I’ll become a pariah too because one day I’m going to Tweet something which will offend somebody. Chris Brewer sticks his neck out … and waits for the chop.
I was walking my dog this morning and a lady driving a fairly flash car cut a blind corner so tightly that anyone driving the other way would have had to swerve into the lake to avoid her. As it happens nobody was coming the other way but I still shouted “bloody stupid woman driver!”
Can that be classified as being offensive to all women? I expect so.
Had it been the very large man who does much the same thing most mornings, but at speed, I would have shouted “you stupid fat bastard!” I expect.
I guess that’s being offensive too?
What I’m getting at is that when we’re very angry about something, we all resort to base and abusive insults. I bet you do the same thing yourself.
If we call somebody “ugly” or a “four-eyed-git” or something even worse, we don’t necessarily mean it. It just seems appropriate at the time.
Many years ago I was driving through France with my family in the car when a young man cut in front of me. I leaned out of the window shouting “you stupid froggy Frenchman!”, which sent my two children in paroxysms of laughter.
I suppose I was a bad parent but is calling a French person “froggy” a racist remark? It certainly wasn’t when I was a young man – I had a ‘dalliance’ with a French girl once and she couldn’t understand what was so funny about “frog” but she certainly wasn’t offended. She also told me that the French called the English “le roti de boeuf” (the roast beef) which she thought was hysterically “funnee”. Humour clearly doesn’t travel well – mind you, she was rather strange come to think of it.
If I was an Olympic athlete or a cricketer and tweeted something like “Frog”, I’ll bet it would upset all kinds of people and I’d be ordered off the track or team and sent home.
A Swiss footballer at the games was expelled and sent home because he called some Koreans a bunch of “trisos” (which is french slang for people born with Down Syndrome).
To my mind there’s not a lot of difference between that and calling someone a “moron” or an “idiot” (meaning a “mental retard” and a “mentally deficient person” respectively).
I think we’re all getting a little too precious about these things.
When I reversed into someone else’s car recently (causing no visible damage I might add) he called me a “stupid fuckwit” and I wasn’t offended – it was a stupid thing to do so I apologised and we parted on friendly terms.
Later on, of course, I went back and let his tyres down but that’s another story.
Reams and reams of red tape
I appreciate that we live in an age where corruption seems to be at an all time high but I rather think a lot of companies have over-reacted in the extreme.
I blame the accountants of course. Only someone with that kind of brain could invent some of the “protocols” I face on an ever-increasing basis.
Whenever a new client signs up with us they often send me a ‘Vendor’ form. These come in various designs – all with the intent (presumably) of preventing someone in their company siphoning cash out into another company which will make the money clean and untraceable. They also try to confirm that the company they’re about to buy from (in my case that’s “Brewer’s Data Applications”) is above board and not funded by some corrupt backer.
I’ve had so many of these forms that I’ve lost count, but there was an astonishing one recently from a major company who asked me to confirm lots of things.
Typically, these questions are like “does any employee of ours have an interest in your company?” which is fair enough I suppose. But I did notice that, not once, did they ask “does any elected politician or their immediate family have an interest in your company?”
In fact nobody’s ever asked me that.
Then there’s the usual stuff about getting letters from our bank and our auditors and other suppliers to confirm we are who we say we are.
Then there was a SEVEN page questionnaire which started with “Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of a terrorist organisation?” ALL the pages were filled with variations on that same terrorist theme and I was seriously tempted to say that I’m a fully paid-up member of Al Qaeda but common-sense prevailed.
Finally they wanted my blood group, a urine sample, a letter of indemnity from the Pope and my signature (in blood) swearing that I was who I said I was.
After spending about two hours completing these forms I sent them back and they eventually issued a PO (Purchase Order), which I quoted on our (annual) invoice.
I guess they were feeling pretty pleased with themselves about all the precautions they’d taken and confirmed that “in due course” our invoice would be paid.
It was paid.
Then it was paid again.
And you find yourself wondering how on earth can companies employ people who are so obsessed with such inane trivia but who are stupid enough to pay the same invoice twice?
Sending the money back to them was even more difficult. Why was I refunding them? And when I told them they’d paid twice they said emphatically “no we haven’t…you are wrong…we are returning the funds.”
I happen to know of an agency which was paid twice for the same thing (and this was for millions) and they’ve been trying to return the cash for about five years now and as far as I understand, that money is still sitting in a trust account earning somebody some considerable interest.
In my case, they eventually did concede that they’d made a mistake and accepted the money back (which was a shame really because I’d already worked out what I was going to spend it on).
Mind you, there are a number of companies I’d like MY money back from.
There was the “Livescribe” pen I bought (which takes notes and records conversations at the same time) but that’s stopped working and apparently it can’t be repaired. Their USA agent said I’d have to buy another one.
Then there was the Russell Hobbs Water Cooler. Lovely bit of kit which filtered the water and brought it down to exactly the right temperature. Perfect. After 18 months it stopped working and it was impossible to get repaired (only a 12 month guarantee you see), so we bought another one.
18 Months later the new one stopped working too, so we just gave up.
More recently was my Kindle. The screen froze. Yes, it was 18 months old. No, it can’t be repaired but I can have 20% off a new one if I buy it through Amazon again (how awfully generous of them). Unfortunately they don’t make the model I like any more.
And I haven’t even touched on the appliances (especially irons) our char manages to break about one month after the guarantee has expired.
If only politicians could be as easily disposable.
Everything today, it seems, is built to break. The only product I can think of that comes with an unconditional lifetime guarantee is my Zippo lighter (brilliant product). But since there are very few places I can actually use it these days there doesn’t seem to be much point really.
Oh well, winter looks like it’s going out with some ferocity so I’m hunkering down in front of a log fire, with some Merlot, my labrador and a book – which is all about anti-gravity and I just can’t put it down. (Heh Heh Heh).
Chris Brewer is the writer of Brewers’ Droop, christened so by ad agency JWT back in 1997. The content emphasis has shifted slightly over the years and it’s less about the advertising and marketing industries and more about life in general these days. A kind of Grumpy Old Man’s Diary. Follow him on Twitter