Great New Zealand Archetypes: The Audi Driver

audi-emblem-2016-black-1920x1080

 

A little over an hour ago I was cruising at the legal speed limit of 50kms per hour, down a quiet through-road in suburban east Auckland.

A person drove up very close behind me, which is normal for Auckland. People here just want to be either right behind you, or even better, in front of you. Same goes for houses.

The next thing I knew, I was being overtaken, and as sure as the sun sets each day, the person was driving an Audi.

It didn’t matter that it was an A3, the smallest hatchback of the family. It didn’t matter that it was a fairly innocuous-looking silver-grey low-specced shopping basket from hell. Audi drivers are all the same. They are angry people.

There’s no real research on why this is, except my empirical skepticism that these people are vaguely human. Are they actually the lizard people? Would Kellyanne Conway drive one?

Yes, yes she would. She would mow you down on the sidewalk as she pulls up on the school run, madly typing something on her phone while Tarquin and Elias alight from the heights of her Q7. It’s black, of course, and the only reason for the tints is so she can remain anonymous as she carries out her campaign of roadkill.

She’d drive off, still typing with her voice, foot fully on the accelerator, off to her important meeting, while the last vestiges of people and habitat lay prone in the wake of her diesel emissions (she cares about the planet! She shops at Farro!).

Off she goes, overtaking the Toyota Camrys of life, wild-eyed and just really angry. But why?

The Audi has four circles. Ancient folklore denotes these circles as the Four Circles Of The Arcane Lizard Human.

Audi translates from the founder’s name in German to “listen” in Latin. The only thing these people are listening to is Lazy Sunday, up to 11.

Think once, think twice, think: Fuck off Audi Driver.

 

The Sin Eater

A Sin Eater used to

lay out bread on a corpse

and eat the sin-soaked food

and save a soul.

 

I’m a modern-day Sin Eater.

But still, give me platesful of corpse cake

and take me to your graveside

to dine alone.

 

The grave is freshly-dug and empty;

so I wait.

Wine (and bread) take away the sting

of your dark crimes

 

Overhead the seagulls wail and circle

eyeing the cavernous hole and

the unspoiled bread

as we wait to eat secrets.

 

The sin is coal-dark;

sometimes, lately, murderous,

but always self-righteous

and always fed out in spoonsful

 

A modern sin-eater swells with

the sins of others, the sins; the “don’t tells,”

and they learn to hide

their own shrinking frame.

Great New Zealand Locales: A & E

Like Valentines, Takapuna Beach, and State Highway 1 on a long weekend there is one other place you are likely to end up when you least expect it, and that’s the A & E Clinic.

Doesn’t matter that it’s a White Cross. Don’t get fooled by the idea that you’re engaging with Private Healthcare. You still get to wait for four hours, you still won’t be able to find a toilet and you’ll still have to ask permission to have a cup of water like a six year old.

On arrival in your wheelchair, pushed by your mother in law (or worse—your employer), the wide self-opening doors splay to make way for your ACC dollar spend. Which way will we go? To the security guards at reception? Or over there, to the darkened corridor of sickness and injury?

The darkened corridor it is! As you wheel down, broken bodies and office workers holding sick bags take up the 30 or so seats allocated.

As it’s only Tuesday morning, you wonder how people could have become so utterly injured—it’s like a suburb has been carpet-bombed and then in the aftermath, botulism served to the wounded by mistake.

Accident. There is nothing harder than filling out a two-page form with a fence stake through your neck, or a suspected cracked spine.

And the story you write on that form will follow you round for years to come so make sure you’ve got it right, because your first stop is in the assessment room with The Nurse. I mean there you are, not even dressed properly yet, because you had to leave the house in a hurry. Perhaps some undergarments are missing, even, and it doesn’t matter you tell yourself, until the horror news arrives that you’re about to have an x-ray and will need to to change into the supplied gown to be x-rayed, underpantless and shamed.

But before that can happen, you’ll need to be wheeled into the special triage area with the drapes, and pass the time for another hour or so with your pain level now at 9/10.

A cursory scan of the room reveals a wall of typed statements. You feel overwhelmed by the instructional tone:

Do not film the staff. If you are found to be filming the staff you will be thrown out of the facility like in the movies

Duly, you slide your device into your back pocket and continue with the Woman’s Day crossword, half-finished.

5. Popular New Zealand broadcaster Mike _ _ _ _ _ _ _

With that over with, the wizened locum arrives, a bit windswept from all the casualties. He finally gives you the two tablets you crave and you almost choke to death trying to get them down with the complimentary three drops of water.

It’s nearly over. Your support person has endured this with you and they are still actually talking to you, and there’s been some bonding, some tears and some hilarity, with the added bonus of Emmerdale on the flat screen in the waiting room, and the sight of a near-immobile school-age child hobbling to get at the books while her mum sits, arms folded, fiercely clutching her wallet as if the whole thing is a major inconvenience.

And in a way she’s right. The suburban A&E is no hospital. It’s a boutique disaster area, and you still emerge poorer and in more despair than when you started.

The Crossing

sorry-coffee-art

 

I’ve just been to a new shopping complex in Tauranga called “Tauranga Crossing“. It sits in a new development in the Western Bay called The Lakes.

The Warehouse

Brand-new but age-old. Luxury aisles in which to swing your trolley toward the Rachel H fashion line or pallets of bulk-lolly mix. Here, you can also shop for Amy Winehouse on vinyl, and get two or three Bruce Springsteen ESSENTIALS CDs for under $30. Not sure you can afford anything? Scan your item, then leave it in the complimentary baskets area, and leave. Do you want a bag? That’ll be .10c. Would you like to buy a charity stickpin? Please don’t take the small convenience trolleys out into the carpark. Would you or your child like a Tauranga Crossing balloon? Don’t lose it! [cutaway to sequence of legginged mother crashing across the concourse to retrieve lost balloon while convenience trolley slowly wheels away toward the bumper of a Nissan Tiida].

Look Sharp Store

Great franchise. Candles, white musk incense cones, a dak pipe. A champagne bottle filled with Minties. It’s all here. A funny Christmas sexual Elf costume, a French maid. Stationery sets for when you’ve run out of ideas, motivation and lifeforce.

The Coffee Club

Here, your flat white is delivered to you with a loveheart-fern mashup. You can order a panini and now they even have smashed avocado with everything IF YOU WANT IT. You can join the VIP club.

Pak ‘n’Save

Yellow, bright, a beacon of hope at the end of the shopping experience. Santa’s elves have gone all out and dressed up in tinsel.

The Shearing Shed

It might be Sharing Shed, and if it was, that would be very funny.

Parking

Plenty. Also plenty of carpark traffic islands. I love me a traffic island.

The BP

Fuel up on your way to Pyes Pa, an ex-Kiwifruit farm-turned-subdivision. Pick up some Aerial sunnies and a Thai Butter Chicken pie (mild).

The perfect shopping experience. 10/10.

A Thousand Yards

A Thousand Yards

Between the blossom trees

and along the straight, gravelled avenue

the tall chimney rises.

The polished steel is hot and deranges

the stark slate of the blue sky beyond.

 

You took one thousand strokes

on a hired exercise machine in

the cold unlined garage,

while outside your small shrubs grew up around you;

your stare down the drive and into the postcode was infinite.

 

In Countdown you colour-coded

the vegetables part-time; the produce manager

disputed your work and asked you to focus on specials.

You walked home shamed

age 73 in your Asics.

 

Over the road at the RSA, the howitzer pointed skyward;

some days you could buy a $12.50 lunch,

silently eat in the blazing afternoon sun

—the work dried up,

“I didn’t need it anyway,” you’d mutter.

 

You did need it.

Your last time spent creating lattice frames for your

climbers; an archway for the rose

and crazed paving in the driveway

for you to tread in socked feet at dusk.

 

You twisted and sweated at night—

something wanted to burn you.

You became afraid of the Inland Revenue

and replayed Slavonic Dances over and over,

the music describing a swelling, sea-bound river.

 

Today, you are just smoke, tarring the sky.

“You’d be surprised how heavy the ashes can be”

says the slicked-haired undertaker,

the plastic composite box too small

for your terror.

Back to School

coles

Many of us, on turning 45, decide that we desperately need to do a Masterate, and just like that we are back at university, such is the ease of enrolment, extramural study, access to money and the luxury of real thinking.

Back in our first degrees, some of us hung on by the skin of our teeth. We’d reached the end of seventh form, barely scraping through those five external examinations…

So, in summary, and conclusion, Raphael was influenced by Perugino to the extent that alot of the works look the same.

…we’d had the end-of-year party during the day, we’d tapped the keg of destiny, we’d worked the god-forsaken holiday job at the elderly rest home, and now it was time to step into the world of unpacking meaning, trying to make friends with your tutor and managing to attend the labs on Friday morning after a heavy Thursday night.

Wonderful though it was, it was harrowing. A Bachelor of Arts degree was a wasteland of epic proportions, and there was always an older lady in a pashmina at the front, relentless in her questioning…

Is it essential we have the prescribed edition of the novel, it’s just that I…

This discourse could go on for the whole lecture, and you didn’t even care as you just wanted to hit Shadows Bar for a swift jug or seven to forget the embarrassing fact that you didn’t even have the novel yet, you were just going to use the Coles Notes and watch the BBC dramatised version starring Brenda Blethyn; no-one would know, least of all your Oxford-educated professor of English lecturer.

Later on as you ambled through life you yearned to repair the hot mess of your first degree. If only you could have your time again, it would be done much better, you thought. This time you’d get invited to the University Club instead of just Shads, you’d forget the idea that Queen Street backpackers’ had all-night bars and that it would be fun to continue drinking and dancing with Argentinians until 4am on a Monday;  that all those Head Like A Hole gigs in the Union that cleaned you out of both borrowed money and hearing weren’t a great idea…

You found yourself far more focussed than ever, in fact you had turned into a virtual version of the pashmina-woman; all your assignments were turned in unspeakably early and you’d become an all-round Jean Rhys specialist, of no more use now than it was then.

Sadly, you were boring, and the university clearly forgot to make you do the compulsory course called “Shutting The Fuck Up About Your Study After 45”. In fact they couldn’t get rid of you, and you kept going, finishing your completely self-centred fantasy degree at age 97, and appearing as a regular on University Challenge.

The Dating Game: The Bachelor New Zealand Finale

thermopylae_large

Enjoy spending time in the crow’s nest, spooning

I’ve sat through the second season of The Bachelor—like everyone else who has bothered to watch—with a sense of despondency, shame, bemusement and stupefaction.

It’s nothing like the first series, with the strapping, amusing Art Green who—despite being some sort of MediaWorks plant (probably)—at least had an inner spark greater than a Bic lighter.

Jordan is okay. At the end of the day, I am sensing that this is all there is: An acting hack who is a gigger. A punter. A player.

He looks bored and cattle-prodded.

Everything about this show has screamed ‘bad sequel’; everything ‘bad first date.’

In fact, bad dates were a feature of this series. They were horribly complex pre-mating meetings that were nothing to do with having real fun or getting to know each other. Instead, each party spent continuous hours strapped into crotch-splaying harnesses, or on an international flight to somewhere fanciful—to get into more harnesses.

Those dates were so inaccurate for New Zealand culture. In this land, we meet at parties, at work, sometimes at Mobil Corner of a Friday night…Unless I am missing some crucial slice of data about romance, do couples actually climb into the crow’s nest of someone’s private tea clipper for a standing spoon on the first date?

The word ‘private’ was repeatedly used, which for a reality show revealed just how stupid the producers think the viewers are (really stupid). Private boats, cars, secluded dinner locations, all away from pairs of eyes, apart from the glare of the camera broadcasting the date to the nation.

The real reason for the private dates was to amplify paranoia in the other contestants who wondered how far the other girls were getting with Jordan, and what expense was being spent overall. This, too, served to reinforce the idea that the more money he spent of the production funds on you, the more desperate Jordan was to shag value you.

The dates became increasingly intimate but in reality, any New Zealand female might have pressed the ‘sex please’ submission wayyyyyy before this stage. And moved on pretty quickly.

Now Jordan must pick his bride slash promotions model. Is it bride? It’s down to Naz and Fleur, who represent the yin and yang of so many, many television production depictions of women Who Are Eligible For Marriage.

Naz is apparently the One You Wouldn’t Marry. But you’d fancy the Christ out of her. She’s ‘good for a laugh’.

Then there’s Fleur. She is the One You Would Marry. She is the one who will gaily wipe down the sideboards and pick up the kids. She’d meet the KPI of wife.

My prediction is that Jordan will choose Naz, because none of it is real anyway, Naz deserves to win, and this franchise should be discontinued as it is.

I’d like to think that the chauffeur in the first episode gets his own gig, though. The guy needs cheering up.

While we wait for the next TV3 series, The Block NZ, here’s DJ Jordan:

http://www.tv3.co.nz/Jordans-Cocktail-Party-Playlist/tabid/5124/articleID/125348/Default.aspx

Coronation Street’s Deep Thinker: Tim Metcalfe

Tim_metcalfe_2015

Hapless

Tim Metcalfe is a hapless Englishman, stuck in the middle of others’ drama, in a suburb called Weatherfield.

If you thought Steve MacDonald or Peter Barlow had fairly hard existences, think again.

Windass

Tim entered the show in 2013 as the birth father of Faye Windass, who is the adoptive daughter of Anna and Eddie Windass.

Yes. Windass.

Initially he bonded with Faye, and became Preferred Parent, mainly because he had no ostensible rules or skills, and Faye could break free from Anna’s earnest, caring and loving parenting style for a bit.

To facilitate this, Faye cooked up a cracker storyline about how Anna was an unfit parent, with a view to going to live with hapless party Tim.

Initially it worked, with Faye happily moving in with Tim, and within two days he’d left her home alone, and by the Friday she’d only eaten toast for three days straight.

Poor Tim, we thought, it was a big step, and good on him for having that frosty pint at the Rovers all day.

It was as if he had loser stamped all over his shaven pate, and then along came …

Web of Doom

Sally Webster.

And if he thought life was a bit confusing and unfair up until that point, he hadn’t seen anything yet.

For Sally breaketh the balls, slowly and surely, and Tim was no Kevin Webster.

He was jobless, and (once the bogus allegations about Anna were proven to be fake, and party time at Cool Dad’s had come to a grinding halt – childless) Tim, without even a ladder like Graeme Proctor with which to start a climbing empire, nor a brass razoo to rub against another, craved a powerful career.

Ladder

But with a bit of gentle fishwifery from Sal, he built a window washing empire from the ground up, and could reach the dizzying heights of success across the many windows of the Street; even Norris might put his hellish judgemental baby-boomer seal of semi-approval on it.

And Tim just sits through it all, eyebrows cocked in bemusement and sometimes bewilderment at the machinations of the partial humans falling apart around him.

Booze

He is Everyman, the bystander in his own life, the observer.

Most of the characters need affairs, whiskey, a light murder here and there to distract from the gutter boredom of Weatherfield.

Tim needs only a pint of Double Diamond and a space in which to stare ahead, one thousand yards.

He is the greatest character on the show, of this era.

Boganism

junesteph

Remember June and Steph, the ‘Bogan Besties’ of My Kitchen Rules?

They were functional bogans.  They showed that bogans were no longer just bong-toting types with a penchant tyre fires and Corrosion of Conformity.  The friends were acceptable, taxpaying, school-run bogans, who probably shopped at Caroline Eve.

I had bogan mates at school.  Maybe I was one too?

In ’87, Bogans liked to drink a lot, particularly during the day. I was always of the ilk that you should have the fortitude to wait until at least 2pm, because you could pretend that this was just afternoon drinks—going through to about half past four the next morning.

Bogan chicks wore black lace and white boots.  These boots were usually punched out, zippered and tasseled, and unlike popular thought, really didn’t go with anything, least of all a muslin-and-lace Stevie Nicks dress.

Bogan chicks were kind.  They always shared their Winfield Green fags with me, anyway.

Bogan dudes were harder to pigeonhole. They were highly opinionated and many of them incredibly conservative.

index

Misunderstood? He could have a vast Michael Nyman collection. You just never know

I remember one night getting into a lengthy conversation with some bogans about religions of the world, and their associated stereotypes.

Cringe from start to finish.

For a start, of all the things you could be rambling on about in a drinking establishment, wasted out of your mind on double Southern Comforts, why would you specifically be directing the conversation to religion?

Bogans are the centre of the bogan world, not some monotheistic deity. Do not shove a more powerful being into the world of the bogan, unless it holdeth a guitar.

We could have talked generally about any of the interesting world conflicts, and even done a quick analysis about which political flashpoint we felt was the most destructive all round:  the Cuban missile crisis?  The Irish troubles?  The metal/rap war of 1987?

Alas, that was not the conversation this pocket of bogans wanted to have.

One of the things that unifies bogans though, isn’t just lengthy religious discourse or anti-rap hate talk; it’s food.

June and Steph were real foodies.

If The Creator leveled the earth tomorrow, do you know who would survive?

Cockroaches. And Bogans.  They would make a barbecue out of the molten remains of their remastered Deep Purple CD collection and cook up the best feed, ever.

The Suburban Shopping Mall

 

mallThere is a place where we all ultimately go, like McDonald’s or BB’s Cafe, and that place is called the local shopping mall.

The local malls have been undercut by the Westfields but they stand, steadfast, like a beacon of cheapness, scattered across suburban New Zealand.

They’re places to go when the big malls are too scary, and you’re happy to come home with a bag of singlets from Fancy Chic Fashions, or a flat white pumped out of a hands-free machine.

They’re still in that blissful state of ignorance, these malls.

Some of them are a doughnut shape.  From Google Earth, malls like this are basically Drone targets—the bulls eye being the leafy planted area in the middle—or is this the secret unseen operations-centre of the mall, in which a security despot mans several security screens, feeding customer information through to the stall holders in the leased shop spaces?

Probably not.

Where I grew up (Howick), there was such a mall. It was called Howickville.

It was a fantastic hexagon shape.  In the Drone Target part, there was a fountain, with real water.

The bookshop nearby was called Fountain Bookshop.  Every Christmas Eve, with the fountain lit up like an effect from Krull, there would be Midnight Madness which entailed hammered teenagers splashing water from the fountain onto each other, and punters trying to get a long tassled Stevie Nicks skirt from Dare to Wear.

These old malls had no theme — ergo — no chain-store misery.  They were held together by a supermarket hub, which drew you in to the many delights.  Once you were in these malls, with their single set of stairs, and one-way escalator, you could never escape. Around and around you went.

Perhaps you had 10 minutes up your sleeve.  Suddenly these one-off, under-performing  havens offered you things you couldn’t live without:

  • white singlets with a shelf bra, two for $5
  • a diamond ring for only $49
  • Laura Ashley-look wrapped soaps
  • piss
  • small fold-down umbrellas, with a ladybird motif
  • the chance to win the new Toyota Corolla (hatch up to show spacious interior), if you placed your proof of purchase of at least $40 in a small, badly-constructed shoe box
  • a camera and film developing shop (closed)
  • a size XXXL Chicago Bulls singlet
  • plastic basins and holders for around the home, office and garage

Strip shopping does not have the same hold over a customer.  You are relatively free to cross the road and, in fact, just park outside the shop of your choice.  The mall has youYou can’t escape.  And in many ways, you don’t even want to.

Don’t let these hexagonal bazaars get to the point where a giant Bayley’s FOR LEASE sign covers Dakshin’s Curry Palace, BB’s Coffee House or Brown’s CZ Ring Emporium.

Go down to your local mall today, get a cappuccino, sit on a courtesy chair, and shop to freedom with one of those wheeling basket-holder arrangements.

You are worth it!

Blind date

gd1

Hi. I never use these things normally. Bit of a misfit. I’m looking for good friends, good wine, good laughs. I like to go disco danzig. I’m easy going and GSOH. Swipe me!

I recently heard a few tales of online dating. It seems there’s a swag of blokes out there who are great company, are CEOs, have extensive land portfolios and are generally all-round GCs.

That’s what it says in their bio. Yet, they are single. What gives?

And what happens when you swipe right?

Let’s take a walk through a few scenarios.

You swipe right. He seems nice! He’s in Torbay. He wants to meet.

You suggest to meet a nearby café. He rejigs the date so you meet at his. Is this cricket? You don’t want to come off up for it.

Oh well, you’re magnanimous and you are a newbie to this, and your goodwill and excitement at this cool game is overflowing. You pull into the driveway, flick your hair a bit and ring his doorbell.

The next morning at tea break, you tell your workmates of the strange amorphous mass that greeted you at the door. With a white singlet used to strain tea, and no ostensible sense of humour at all, your ‘date’ sized you up like the mussel platter at Valentines. Later, he messages you with his ‘honesty’.

Hey honey, great to meet, but tbh you’re not my body type. But good luck!

You’ve taken your first body blow, but you get back up and back on the horse. The horse takes you to another catch, a musician this time. “That sounds amazing”, you think, only briefly wondering why someone who is a musician is single.

Again you do the danse macabre of arranging the first face-to-face meeting. This time it’s at the Palmers Garden World café and not exactly what you had in mind, but hey, again, you are willing to make this work.

He’s a no-show. That’s strange, you think, because for the week leading up to the date, he was all over you like a cheap suit, sending you pictures of engagement rings and Snap movies of him on his knees with one hand over his chest, and the other extended, Marcus Aurelius styles, with audio of Children by Robert Miles in the background, his favourite artiste. Another thing you are prepared to overlook.

You hear nothing for days and consider deleting the dating app, since the only people coming up in your area are guys with a rat’s tail or screencaps of celebrities like Draco Rosa.

Then, the inexplicable.

The musician (we’ll call him Ricky), texts a sad tale of remorse.

Yeah, I’ve just got a crazy-busy* schedule and a few work things popped up.

You delete the app, have a nice cold shower and continue to walk the walk of sanity, watching a few Micky Flanagan live gigs and you admire how the offline world while at times lonely, seems robustly honest, and then suddenly …

… an old work mate is in town, and without thinking anything into it you meet for coffee, then dinner, then he starts to offer to do a few things for you like shag you and that’s that.

The Torbay guy disintegrates like candy floss in water and Ricky Martin continues to voyeuristically read your every Snap story for the next ten years,

 

*masturbating

Those who can, do. Those who can’t, bully

Joffrey is a workplace bully and also a total ballsack.

Joffrey is a workplace bully and also a total ballsack.

A lot has been written around the workplace bully.

One of the most prolific researchers was the late Tim Field who shared his findings here.

He carried out fairly extensive research into how the bully operates in the workplace and it is quite an eye-opener.

His premise is:  Those who can, do. Those who can’t, bully.

In short, he asserted that bullies actually aren’t all that capable in terms of what they claim about their talents, and are envious of those who achieve from a position of natural talent and honesty.

This quite different from what is taught at school. That bullies choose obvious targets, the weak, perhaps a person with a disadvantage, either social or physical.

At school, bullies often act in groups rather than alone, and have a single imperative. The cliché is that a target (the victim) is positioned to provide the bully with a kind of ‘supply’ whether that supply is something tangible such as bus money, or an intangible such as to make the victim feel shame for entertainment.

This is not always so for the workplace bully, since the social and economic ladder is much more difficult to climb. The workplace bully shuns collectivising, and prefers the divide and conquer ethos.

Here, I am not talking about ‘being bullied’ in the workplace as such. This post is about the bully themselves. Who are they?  Why do they bully?  Why do they choose to bully when they could just as easily get good results from playing with a straight bat?  Why do they lie, when it would be just as easy to tell the truth?  Easier, in fact, since there is no trail of deceit to audit.

I think the answer rests in what motivates a bully to begin with. I’m purposefully avoiding the use of the terms sociopath, psychopath and narcissist here because in some ways it forgives the behaviour. Let’s keep it simple.

These people are bullies.

Who knows what their childhoods were like. As adults, their modus operandi is different from the usual work ‘drone’, (as the bully sees them) who seek to pay bills and race home to family life, since that is the core of their world. Warmth, companionship and shared humour are some of the aspects of non- work life normal folk cherish above all.

The bully does not race home in the same way. Those elements hold no value for them —they are ostensibly boring and disposable and cannot be measured by a ‘win’ or a ‘lose’.

Imagine waking up in the morning and seeing everything around you as having a function. People, cell phones, the fridge. All have a function to serve and none are differentiated.

The bully aligns human qualities with those of devices, electronics, cars—basically inanimate objects. In that respect, if they stop working, the bully becomes agitated rather than sympathetically curious. It’s more, “Why doesn’t the fridge light come on anymore?  Now I can’t see my veges. Why won’t my device pick up WiFi?  Time to chuck it and get a new one. Why won’t my girlfriend just accept my criticisms about her weight?  Might be time to get a new one.”

In the modern world of supply, where it seems nothing ever runs out, it’s easy to see how attractive these conditions are for the bully. So what if someone at work couldn’t take your racist jokes and then left. There’ll be someone else to replace them.

At work, these humanless traits transfer easily. The only difference is that the mask must change from nasty to nice since the bully learns that being visible and accountable to different people for different purposes is a tough game to maintain.

Hence, many bullies are chameleons, and even after they are found out, many observers will still claim what a kind and considerate person they seemed. Bullies are great mimics and learn the right things to say and the correct facial expressions to pull depending on the event. They are a mirror.

What a bully wants to know is What Side You Are On. Lots of sane humans tend to live out their lives not worrying so much about sides, teams, competitions, allegiances, loyalties. Point scoring. Most just want an easy work life and to be left alone to do a great job.

Bullies do not value that independence or intrinsic vigour. They are highly dependent, plugged-in and extrinsically motivated. They love to show off to make others feel less important. They enjoy having just so that others are without. In this respect, the world to them is singular and linear, a hierarchy, and there is no room for others’ opinions or successes.

Workplace bullies have allies or enemies. Their allies are people who don’t call them on anything, even when they know they should. The enemies are the people who see through the act or try to avoid contact altogether.

Workplace bullies come to work to stir and cause trouble. Here is an example.

At one workplace in which I worked, one person used most of the classic tactics. It was amazing that no-one really got harmed by any of it but people visibly squirmed whenever they were approached by this person. No-one could put their finger on it, as it was insidious, snakey, sidling-up behaviour. You can’t fire a person for that.

The chatter was always overly friendly and designed for information gathering purposes. It was widely believed that the manager had this bully working as a kind of mole, finding out what the ‘feeling on the ground’ was and whether any staff were thinking of leaving. Always, always about the money.

It made workplace life very uncomfortable and people became hypervigilant. The irony was, it made them want to leave.

The problem with the workplace bully is that often they are very good at their job, or know the ‘speak’ to appear competent. Management overlooks the shitty behaviour because they need that person, or worse, they enjoy having their ego stroked by that person and haven’t see through the veneer of lies.

Why does the bully act like this?

Their entire being must be taken up with the fear of being found out that they are not what they say they are. The answer is of course to be honest about your talents in the first instance, but what if you lack talent but desperately want power?

 

Bullying is a huge problem in the New Zealand workplace.

It is just exhausting to be around this kind of person and being made to feel like you are being watched and accountable. It’s very hard to stamp out because bullies are clever and know how not to get caught. They also have a ferocious gift for lies and if they do forget the stories they’ve told, they merely back-pedal and reinvent the tale another way. It’s truly a system of lying and smoke-and-mirror corruption.

The real problem, though, is recognition of the problem, and as it stands, bullies tend to get into the top leadership positions, and are often very financially successful. We’ll not move forward on this while the model of the ‘top dog’ is celebrated despite their huge shortcomings in the area of interpersonal workplace relations.

For more information about workplace bullying, have a look at Worksafe’s site here.

Great New Zealand Archetypes: The Used Car Salesman

caryard

I recently visited one of those great New Zealand institutions: the Greenlane car yard.

This one was intimate and very close to the interchange. A small Gottage with a sliding door, an electric kettle and a clunky desktop computer formed the annex of this operation.

It was raining.

The water beaded off the cars, and the Greenlane roads roared with near-weekend traffic. Several yard workers pored over open bonnets. It was very quiet out on the lot.

I’d previously worked on a car yard as the office lady. I’d seen the processes around selling cars and it never got stale, because there was always a fresh platitude.

The system, as far as I could tell, was sometimes long or sometimes very quick, much like sex.

There was a lot of ego stroking and massaging before the sale. The client would be coaxed into the heated seats, and the requisite acceptable mainstream rap music would be turned up—not so loud, though, that you couldn’t hear the delicious V8 or (shudder) V12 engine roaring under pressure from the gas pedal.

The potential buyer would take the car out on a test drive, and sometimes they were encouraged to keep it for the night.

Later that night, they would reverse their usual horrible old shitter out of the garage leaving it in the hoarfrost to make way for the new automotive lady-friend.

They might then close the garage door and stand next to the potential new car, quietly downing nine beers to calm their nerves about the finance, and chamois her down—gently consummating the new relationship.

The next day they’d arrive back on the lot with their cheque book out and write out figures I’ve never even earned and away they’d go like a neglected long-suffering husband after a drunk weekend in Vegas, slightly wobbly on their feet and broke but very, very happy.

But that was not the style of this car yard.

It was 10 minutes before anyone noticed they had a customer. After a time, a guy emerged who resembled Del Boy crossed with Richard O’Sullivan. He was like a lounge bar incarnate. There was velvet, leather, and a heavy fragrance with notes of musk and a touch of:

God. I am still drunk from last night.

As he strode out, holding his pottery mug of International Roast, he struck me as a man at the top and also the bottom of his game. He was not desperate make a sale. He would make me wait.

I pointed out the navy Alfa 156.

“I’d like to take a look at that one”, I said. With my wrongly placed Eurocentric capitalist outlook, I felt I was giving him hope, and a blacker balance sheet.

“I think that one took a knock in the yard,” he chuckled. “Someone backed into it. We’re packed in pretty tight here”.

I scanned the yard. He was right. It was sardine-packed with cars with room only to edge crab-like between them.

We were off to a good start, with a light shunting here, a few bangs on the panel work there, and a possible chassis realignment, what was there to complain about?

An assistant was summonsed. It was his job to slalom the other cars around the blue Alfa to free it up for the road test. It was also his job to jump start the car.

It started.

And off I finally went, full of hope and a dream of owning a proper car-yard car, not just one off Trade Me. Pretty soon my dream withered into panic, however, as the car went into limp mode on the busiest road in the Southern Hemisphere.

Once the rescue mission was over and the car back in the yard, the team gathered around, shaking heads and holding coffees.

Del Boy broke the silence.

“We’ve never really started it or driven it, actually,” he mused, sipping.

New Zealand is built on this kind of retail experience. These guys will never have heart failure from stress, it seems.

This wasn’t the exciting sales pitch I’d seen in my former job. I’d got nothing by way of sexual innuendo, not even a tepid cup of java.

All I got was limp mode.

I drove off and left them fucking around with the immobiliser. I can still hear it now, as I write.

Blip.

Tweet tweet.

(Siren).

The rain had stopped, and the Gottage shone in the breaking sunlight as the salesmen ambled through to the hot kettle.

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?

 

Function rooms and ferries everywhere are being hastily booked out in anticipation of the upcoming silly season, says every office manager across the land. Ask them.

But what if you miss out on your booking? Are you going to have to have the party at … the manager’s house?

Erase that negative thinking. There are other options left: the restaurant booking or the in-house party.

The Restaurant Booking

This is usually made at an Indian or Middle Eastern restaurant.  I don’t think the Chinese restaurants are as well-patronized anymore because of the … you know … lazy susan problem.

The restaurant is perfect for the SME and peripheral staff — like the guy from MYOB and the ‘Finchy’ character who reps around the suburbs of East Auckland. He’ll be the first there, with a prop of some sort; perhaps a hilarious Snoop Dogg drinking goblet, or a bag of speed. Who knows?

As the dishes arrive, more and more moderately priced wines are soaked into rice balls, naans, or a hearty korma, surely lining the stomachs for the inevitable Christmas food poisoning episode. Beware the Thursday-night booking.

Later, once rice is liberally sprayed across the table and into small little clutch purses, someone comes up with the brilliant idea of hitting some clubs or pubs and everyone shouts

“let’s go to the Sober Leprechaun!”

A phalanx of office workers of all creeds file into a Catholic drinking bar and begin to fight their way to stage-front where resident band Bollocks O’Shenanigans are playing covers of The Corrs.

All in all, it’s a great night, and apart from the office junior who is wailing over her lost EFT-POS card — she’s pretty sure Finchy used it to cut his stash — all is well.

The In-House Party

Possibly a less sensible idea, but for many reasons still very much a feature of the New Zealand Christmas party scene.

I guess the main advice here is to try to keep the general hub of the party away from areas like the photocopier, the reception area, the stationery carrel, the car park, the boardroom, the Lundia, any computers, company cars, and such.

These parties are usually pretty wild. It’s because there is no human or financial barrier between workers and The Drink.

What else is there to say? Put a time limit on the drinks, make certain they run out really soon rather than at 11pm.

Music-wise, get a professional in rather than going in-house. It’s bound to be a failure as the staff member will bring in his personal laptop loaded with illegally downloaded Tool albums and he will try to sneak in Prison Sex later on. Don’t you worry.

But how to dance to Prison Sex, standing next to your colleagues?

Cast your eye over to your area manager who appears to be digging-in imaginary new season potatoes whilst wearing his work clothes his wife bought for him. That’s how it’s done.

How many jobs will be lost tonight? It’s hard to say. Perhaps at least two.

The swivel chair will be fumigated on Monday as will the leafless Yukka, used callously as a dance pole earlier in the night.

The Arcoroc cups will be back face down on the brown trays on Monday, ready for the scoops of International roast necked down with a silent Round Wine.

 

Wicker Chair

On Monday there was a wicker chair,

its threads woven into the frame in a lacklustre taupe

next to a rusted lamp stand.

The shade askew

and its plastic backing peeling.

 

On the Wednesday it rained

and the soaked carpets spored black.

The vans stooped and floated

past the busted plastic chairs

towards the power drill

with its cut cord.

 

Friday the men in trucks came

loading great armfuls of wet curtains,

carpets, a wedding gown and lovers’ beds

into the crusher

angrily staring at the vans who raced ahead

to get the last peeling wooden drawers.