The Dissemination of Thought

Just because it's in print doesn't mean it's intelligent…

Posts Tagged ‘common courtesy

Hallmark cards, shopping fear and a TDoT dose of Christmas cheer

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If the lovely people at Hallmark are to be believed, Christmas is a time for giving, indulging and sending out vibes of goodwill towards all men, women and house-trained animals.

The reality of the festive season could not be further from the clichés, corny poems and pictures of goofy-looking reindeer the marketing gurus expect us to embrace every December.

Cheesy cards are the reason disillusioned people are stressed and angry by December 25.  Source:

Cheesy cards are the reason disillusioned people are stressed and angry by December 25. Source:

While the David Jones catalogues and Coles billboards depict well-dressed shoppers with Joker-esque grins peacefully perusing the aisles, apocalyptic scenes are playing out on the ground.

Is there a get-your-fucking-hands-off-that-last-trampoline-before-I-lose-my-cool card?

It’s all well and good to espouse the spirit of season but the fact is all textbook theory about appropriate Christmas behaviour takes a back seat to retail guerrilla warfare in the lead-up to December 25.

Those who doubt me should have been in the Townsville bottle shop I happened to be in at midday.

As I was filling my trolley with enough vodka and cider to anaesthetise a three-year-old gelding, I witnessed two women swap the Christmas spirit for a verbal stoush over spirits.

Basically, the second woman – let’s call her Little Miss Swear Jar – objected to the first woman – who we’ll call Mrs Three Bottles – taking what appeared to be the last three bottles of an unidentified dark rum off the shelf, even though the former obviously wanted to buy one of them.

Unfortunately, it was at this stage Little Miss Swear Jar forgot all about those warm Christmas card messages and launched into a tirade that would have made both elves and seasoned sailors blush.

Bearing in mind that I made a beeline for the opposite side of the store when the argument started, I’m pretty confident it went something like this:

Little Miss Swear Jar: You’ve gotta be fuckin’ kiddin’ me.
Mrs Three Bottles: What?
Little Miss Swear Jar: Why the fuck are you takin’ all of them?
Mrs Three Bottles: We’re having a party and I need three bottles.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck off. Everyone’s having a party tomorrow. Give me one of those fuckin’ bottles.
Mrs Three Bottles: Get fucked.
Little Miss Swear Jar: Fuck you, moll. You’re ruining my Christmas* and you can go and get fucked right up.

* Author’s note: Apparently, spirits really do maketh the occasion.

What were those morons at Hallmark saying about goodwill and compassion towards our fellow man?

After witnessing what should have been a pay-per-view event, I left the bottle shop thinking the advertising boffins should forgo the soft, heartfelt approach to Christmas marketing and focus instead on promoting a range of retail rage cards and light battle armour.

It could be worse. He could be snorting cocaine and texting strippers while having his photo taken with your child.  Source:

It could be worse. He could be snorting cocaine and texting strippers while having his photo taken with your child. Source:

In 2012, it seems the key to Christmas is just surviving the supermarket skirmish.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I hope you have a fantastic festive season and stay safe while enjoying the company of friends and loved ones.

I’ve got a strong feeling my name will turn up in Santa Claus’ naughty book this year but the fact you guys and girls –this blog’s raison d’être – keep coming back day after day negates the lump of coal that will be stuffed into my stocking* hours from now.

* Author’s note: This is not a euphemism.

Apologies, excuses and the verbal finger

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It’s funny how a seemingly innocuous action – or in some cases, actions – can compel one to do something they hadn’t planned on doing.

For me, the aforementioned actions were those of the rude, irritating woman who tried to cut in front of about seven people at the supermarket this afternoon.

I hadn’t planned on writing anything on my day off, but the behaviour of the woman – let’s call her the Bitch with the Handbasket – made me question at what stage people stopped apologising altogether.

When did ludicrous excuses replace sincere apologies as a response to fucking up?

I watched the Bitch with the Handbasket creep into my peripheral vision while I was waiting to be served in the express lane. I saw her eyeball the queue and stood stunned as she nonchalantly pushed in front of me and acted as though she’d been there the entire time.

After subtlety suggesting to her that she needed to move to the back of the line, I couldn’t believe her retort: “Huh? Oh, I didn’t see you there. Is there a line?”

What the hell? What part of my handbasket-carrying, six-foot-five frame didn’t you see? Did you fail to notice the half a dozen shoppers behind me who are now scowling at you?

As I asked myself what her problem was, it dawned on me that her excuses and ignorance were representative of the attitudes of many: we’ve become a society that accepts reasons why in lieu of apologies.

People seem to have forgotten how to apologise. In the rare instances where an apology is offered, it’s seldom genuine. Somehow, offering a feeble, disingenuous explanation has been deemed socially acceptable.

It’s got to stop.

In addition to the Bitch with the Handbasket, I’ve recently witnessed first-hand another example of society’s proclivity to throw out a thinly-veiled vindication instead of an apology.

Without going into specifics, the players in question were out of line and exercised poor judgement. Whether or not a private apology has been offered to the women involved is a matter for them. All I can comment on intelligently is that publicly, the only responses from the individuals at the centre of the allegations have been excuses. Lots of excuses. A few of them have even suggested that it’s me who needs to apologise for writing the story.

How hard is it to admit that you have erred?

I’ll admit it when I screw up. When I do make a mistake, it’s usually a big one. Like when I referred to the wrong team as last season’s premiers in a recent grand final preview. Oops. I could have made excuses, but what would have been the point? I made a mistake; it was as simple as that. The newspaper ran a correction and the earth continued to turn on its axis.

An excuse is not an apology. An apology conveys regret, remorse or sorrow, while an excuse tends to indicate the person blabbering it isn’t genuinely contrite. To me, an excuse is the verbal equivalent of giving someone the finger after you’ve wronged them.

If you’ve done something you regret, show some intestinal fortitude and admit you were wrong. If you aren’t remorseful for your actions you shouldn’t feel compelled to apologise, but please don’t offer up some idiotic excuse for doing whatever it was that you did. The best excuse in the world will never trump a simple, sincere acknowledgement that you screwed up.


I’m not going to apologise for this post because even though you’re sorry for reading it, I don’t regret writing it. As for excuses, where would you like me to start?


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Espresso Etiquette 101: 6 Lessons in Coffee Shop Culture

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Cafes are not places to set up a quasi mission control, and the simple act of tipping shouldn’t remind anyone who observes it of a full-scale production of The Taming of the Shrew.

These are just two examples that stood out among a myriad of espresso etiquette breaches I’ve witnessed over the past twelve months, the most recent of which involved Mr Lesson 4 earlier this week.

As I pondered his seating sin and cappuccino contravention, it dawned on me that he wasn’t alone in his misgivings, so I decided it was an opportune time to offer a weekend refresher course, with the aim of bringing everyone up to speed on the do’s and don’ts of 21st century cafe culture.

Has everyone switched their mobile phone to silent? Do you all have a pen that works? Good, let’s commence the nonsensical crash course that is Espresso Etiquette 101.

We haven't even looked at the first lesson and already we have people throwing their coffee cups out of the cot. Source:

Lesson 1: Know what you want before you are eyeballing the barista

Those big, colourful boards behind the counter that display the menu, cup sizes and prices aren’t there for decoration. There’s nothing more infuriating – in the coffee world, anyway – than standing behind someone who doesn’t have a clue what they want to order until they’re staring into the pained eyes of an exceedingly patient barista.

If you want a small flat white, lock it in as soon as you’re asked what you’d like. If you’re in the mood for a large caramel mocha, accept your caffeine-infused fate and tell the barista you want a large caramel mocha. If you intend to order a Venti triple-shot hazelnut soy latte with a dash of vanilla, slap yourself across the back of the head as you approach the cash register. Your bombastic stupidity has earned you a glass of water. Without ice.

While we’re on the subject of ordering, knowing how to pronounce what you wish to drink is important. Should you feel inclined to order a macchiato, please remember it’s not pronounced mar-chee-ate-o. If there were such a thing, it would be a Cheetos-esque snack, not a coffee.

Lesson 2: A single coffee does not entitle you to a full day of free Wi-Fi

These people know who they are. The individuals who purchase a solitary coffee in order to stake their claim at a table towards the rear of the cafe; out of sight – and mind – of the baristas, but not so far away as to give them a less-than-excellent signal from the complimentary Wi-Fi.

While Starbucks is the traditional haunt of this creature, extreme overpopulation and the resultant infighting has forced many to flee their franchised habitats and seek refuge in boutique coffee shops advertising free internet.

The coffee culture lesson to the free Wi-Fi whores is simple: A $5 chai latte does not afford you any sort of entitlement to sit there for six hours while the last two seasons of Breaking Bad, 134 songs and Green Lantern finish downloading.

Lesson 3: Tether your unruly children to the table

Our third lesson in espresso etiquette is predominantly for parents, but is applicable to anyone who deems taking unsettled children to a coffee shop a prudent decision.

Contrary to what the deluded voices in your head tell you, not everyone finds your munchkins adorable. They are even less endearing when running around my table screaming, as you look on and do nothing but point and pull those stupid “Aren’t they precious?” faces. As ridiculous as it may seem, I was hoping for a little bit of peace and quiet while I finished my latte.

If you can’t or won’t control your recalcitrant toddlers, please tether them to the leg of your table using twine that any of the staff will be more than happy to provide you with. If need be, utilise some form of baby muzzle*, because I can’t handle that high-pitched squealing any longer, and I really will feel bad if I’m forced to throw my half-chewed muffin at your firstborn.

* Author’s note: If such a device doesn’t already exist, I call dibs on the patent.

Lesson 4: One ass equals one seat

This maths lesson is one that, because of its simplicity, shouldn’t even have to be taught. If you find the subject matter boring, please direct your grievances towards the 20-something guy at the cafe, whose struggle with basic mathematics compelled me to run this refresher course.

One bum entitles you to one seat. Uno. Yi. Moja. If you are flying solo with your cappuccino, a single seat is all you get. Your laptop bag, backpack and filthy, stained sneakers don’t have an ass between them, so they sure as hell don’t need to be comfortable while you spend forty painful minutes wiping dried froth from the rim of your cup.

Lesson 5: Tipping does not involve Shakespearean theatrics

To Lady Macbeth at the front of the queue: To tip, or not to tip, that is obviously your question. There’s no need for histrionics or to wait for an audience to assemble; either do it or don’t do it, but if you opt for the latter, please exit stage right immediately.

I’ve never worked in hospitality, but friends who do tell me one of their biggest irks are pretentious gits who believe their twenty cent act of altruism makes them the espresso equivalent of Bill Gates.

Lesson 6: Lose the hardware

This is an important message to the guy who has set up base camp at the table in the corner. You aren’t an authorised Apple reseller. Everyone in the coffee shop is already aware they make a good product, so there’s no need to spread your iPhone, iPad and MacBook Air out across the table while attempting to synchronise them, all the while shuffling the hell out of your iPod. You don’t look trendy and sophisticated; if anything, you come across as bourgeois and incredibly susceptible to clever marketing. Yes, I noticed the Bluetooth earpiece; did you want me to call NASA and inform them you’re good to go with the shuttle launch?


If you are guilty of any of the transgressions outlined above, I sincerely hope this crash course in espresso etiquette gives you cause to sit back and smell the coffee beans. It’s not too late to get help. If you know anyone who is an offender, please share this article with them. Friends don’t let friends mooch cafe Wi-Fi. Better yet, maybe you should just print out and laminate a few copies; that way, you can hand them out to random strangers you witness committing these espresso atrocities.

Why I wanted to throw an Oompa-Loompa off a moving ferry: blogging from the BlackBerry

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Public transport. It’s a never-ending source of depraved curiosity, bewilderment and material. If my travels don’t find me perplexed by the riddle of the ring, it seems like I’m perpetually pondering blasé parenting. I know, I’ve got a bit of an alliteration thing going on at the moment. Honestly, a solid week riding on the trains, buses and ferries could yield enough material for a year’s worth of TDoT posts. There’s a chance that it would also yield any number of genital-specific diseases, but I digress.

Why do parents think their spawn are not only bonsai geniuses, but that they are the most delightfully amusing munchkins on the planet? Furthermore, what drugs are they taking to nurture the delusion that the rest of us want to be subjected to Johnny reciting the alphabet on the bus, or little Barbeigh (yeah, like the doll, only cooler) running from one end of the train carriage to the other? Not only is Johnny in all probability as dumb as a post, he’s also as annoying as fuck. Put a leash on him or something.

On my ferry ride home this afternoon, I was accosted by four little darlings screaming and arguing. When they weren’t galloping around the cabin, they insisted on testing the trampoline-like qualities of the seats. A cessation of this behaviour only signalled that it was time for them to question their parents about why they hadn’t received a new toy in the last three minutes. At the top of their voices. Once the interrogation was over, the Oompa-Loompa wannabes resumed pulling each other’s hair and running the Tour de Ferry.

What did the parents do while the fruit of their loins were unleashing commuting Armageddon? Nothing. They chatted, played with their mobile phones and, unless I’m completely mistaken, seemed to take great joy in watching the bambinos entertain the other passengers. No, I don’t find your kid’s off-key caroling soothing – I’m trying to determine how harshly society would judge me for throwing a five-year-old off the stern of a moving vessel.

Given that I’m devoid of any paternal instinct whatsoever, one could assume that my Grinch-like complaint was unfounded and purely the result of not being very cherub friendly. But it wasn’t just me. Upon assessing the facial expressions of my fellow commuters, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one wanting to jettison minors. Had I followed through with my plan, I guarantee that I would have had to take a number and wait in line, a la a suburban delicatessen.

Can someone please explain to me why most parents believe that their progeny running riot in public and pissing everyone else off is adorable?

His parents will never understand why you want to murder him.  Source:

His parents will never understand why you want to murder him. Source:

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Who likes short shorts? Not JDW, apparently…

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As a general guideline, I abstain from reading anything that publishes the opinions of someone who is referred to as an “etiquette queen”, especially when that anything is The Sunday Telegraph. But when an article contains phrases like “moral disrepair” and “heathen era” in the first hundred words, I can’t help myself. For those that missed it, June Dally-Watkins, or JDW, is mortified about the current state of social interaction in Australia, and has expressed concern that if things don’t change, we may not be too far from sitting on our haunches and flinging faeces at one another. Now, JDW isn’t to be confused with SBW. One knows which forks and spoons to use at the dinner table, while the other boxes and has a proclivity to switch sporting codes and teams like most of us switch socks. It’s the former we are interested in, for the purpose of this discussion.

We’ve postulated about the disappearance of manners and common courtesy on TDoT before. It’s something that I’ve gone on the record as questioning, and I’m not going to waste my Sunday afternoon doing it again. The segment of the article that caught my attention was how changes in communication methods are, at least in part, apparently contributing to the demise of humanity. June Dally-Watkins cites other causes as Germaine Greer and denim, but we won’t go into that in this post – I assume that JDW will be asked to clarify her “’I’m yours, take me” comment by other members of the media.

While I agree with Ms Dally-Watkins that hand-written correspondence carries with it a level of romanticism, it’s just not something that’s feasible in what has become such a time-poor society. Upon completing a quick audit in my head, the only things that I’ve sent or received in the last decade that have demonstrated any level of penmanship have been the obligatory birthday cards that we feel socially compelled to send each other. If you analyse them, most contain a marginal amount of forethought, and a tepid, generic level of familiarity. Why? Because in the time we should spend trying to create an original and genuine message, we’re too busy fucking around trying to buy the cards, stationery and plethora of other paraphernalia one needs to send anything via snail mail. Producing hand-written correspondence has become an inconvenience in the 21st century – why would I bother attempting it, when I can send the same well thought out, impassioned message instantly – and essentially for free – via text or email?

As long as you use manners and show respect for others when you communicate, why should the actual method of delivery matter? Technology is continuing to advance at a seemingly exponential rate, offering new ways in which to keep in touch with people, both on professional and personal levels. The telegram and weekly letter have long left the station, and while they are, for those who experienced them, charming to reminisce about, they didn’t purchase a return ticket. Things constantly change, and perhaps one day, those who grew up not knowing life without Twitter, Facebook or their iPhone, will look back on receiving a grammatically correct, punctuated email with the same fondness that their grandparents do a letter sent par avion from afar.

In closing, I’d like to thank you for reading. If you’d all be so kind as to advise me of your mailing addresses, I’ll be forwarding hand-written testaments of gratitude in the coming days.

Labels, and why some people shouldn’t have a credit card…

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Labels. Everything seems to have one these days, including people. Lamentably, while the labels that adorn our designer jeans, ridiculously impractical shoes and forty dollar bottles of shiraz generally provide unquestionable enlightenment as to what we are buying, those that are imparted upon individuals often don’t truly reflect who we are categorising. Just because something looks like a Louis Vuitton knockoff doesn’t necessarily mean that it is, and it shouldn’t be labelled as such until it’s confirmed. Unfortunately, the status quo now seems to involve forgoing any investigation or understanding, and simply lumping the most suitable – and stereotypical – label on the item in question. For those readers that are confused, yes, I’m using a metaphor: the aforementioned item is a person, not a faux French handbag. But I digress. These unjustified, sometimes erroneous labels are more often than not the result of narrow-minded, ill-informed opinions.

Opinions are like credit cards: everyone seems to have at least four, you can obtain one without too much difficulty, and people regularly throw them around without any forethought or rational basis for doing so. The problem with having such easy access to credit is that people tend to neglect fully understanding the item that they are looking at, prior to proceeding to the checkout. They saw something similar a few weeks ago, and it’s less effort to assume that the new item will have the same label, rather than to investigate whether or not it’s the same thing. Even though something presents as being a genuine, fifteen hundred dollar monogrammed cliché, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t actually a ten dollar copy from a street market in Bangkok, and vice versa. The lesson here? Try to base your opinions on fact and experience, and leave the inane, prejudicial buying to someone else – let them have the evidence of short-sightedness and an inability to correctly read labels on their credit card statement.

We have all been guilty at one time or another of unfairly labelling someone, based on a fleeting appraisal of them. Based on how they are dressed. Based on their behaviour. Based on their surroundings, or what they appear to have or not have. Hell, I was an offender as recently as Monday. For six months, I had taken for granted that the woman that lives on my floor was some sort of crazy cat lady, based on nothing more than my observations of her meandering on the balcony, and the occasional monosyllabic greetings she volunteered. Had I ever witnessed her hurling moggies at random strangers? Of course not, but based on what I had seen, and possibly too much exposure to The Simpsons, she seemed to fit the bill. We got into the elevator at the same time on Monday afternoon, and she proceeded to launch into a tète-à-tète as soon as the doors closed. After about twenty-five minutes of conversing with her, I was left alone to eat the preconceived label that I had previously slapped in the middle of her forehead. My neighbour is an articulate, thoughtful and affable woman, albeit very reserved. She is amusing, and seemingly knowledgeable on a multitude of topics. I learnt a lot during our exchange, but the main thing that I took away from the encounter was how easily I had fallen into the habit of labelling, based on assumptions.

So here’s a thought: the next time you consider whipping out your credit card, consider the label that will be the end result of flashing the plastic before committing to the purchase.

Written by disseminatedthought

August 10, 2011 at 23:00

The curious case of the absconding manners

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I watched a social interaction take place on the bus this afternoon that got me thinking. And extended thinking eventually got me annoyed about what I had witnessed. The irony though, is that the social interaction wasn’t a once off occurrence, nor was it shocking. I’ve seen it a thousand times. But as I reflect on the week that has been, I have to ask the question – does anyone know what happened to manners?

The event that prompted this post was nondescript, yet in a way it was incredibly poignant – I was sitting up the back of the bus, watching the world go by when we stopped to pick up a mother with her toddler and an infant in a stroller. She struggled to get onto the bus and when she did, stood with a despondent look on her face when she realised that the six fold up seats normally used to accommodate prams and wheelchairs were occupied by an elderly gentleman with his groceries and two young guys, one of whom was expressing his individuality with denim shorts, knee-high socks and a blue singlet, the latter normally only seen in shearing sheds and on my late grandfather. One can only assume the socks were providing enough warmth from the Brisbane winter weather to negate the need for something with sleeves. It was an interesting social experiment to watch, with the mother looking hopefully at the two guys. They didn’t move. They looked at her, looked at each other with an almost non discernible nod and went back to talking. One even spread his arm out over to the seat between him and his friend, as some sort of non verbal, possibly subconscious confirmation that there was no way he was moving. ”Grocery man” saw this and ended up moving so the woman could use the seats on the other side of the bus, but it made me think. And here we are.

It would be too easy to put what transpired down to age, as seems common place with society today. It’s so effortless to sit back and point fingers at Generation Y. But the apparent demise in manners and common courtesy today isn’t just restricted to people born since that time when Knight Rider was cool. The “What’s in it for me?” mentality is prevalent across all demographics. Can anyone tell me at which stage in our evolution as a society we stopped thinking about others? When did we decide it wouldn’t be worth helping someone or being polite if there was nothing to be personally gained by doing so? Call me cynical, but it seems like a backward step in cultural development.

I was raised to show respect, tolerance and consideration for others, as were my two younger brothers. It’s something I will be eternally grateful to my parents for. I never gave it much thought growing up, as I had more important things on my mind (as teenagers tend to do) and I assumed that everyone was being taught the same thing. But everyone isn’t taught the same thing. Some unfortunately have no exposure to it at all through varying extenuating factors, while some were taught common courtesy but somewhere along the line decided “Fuck it, if I have nothing to gain by doing it why bother?”

It’s a sad reflection on how we are progressing as a society when we are getting less respectful to others, and essentially ourselves by association. The main offenders seem to have a huge chip on their shoulders and assume that the general public owes them something for nothing. They go through life under the perception that everyone should treat them like the sun shines out of their rear facing orifice, but can’t fathom why this respect should be reciprocated. Certainly some of the offenders are Gen Y. Some are Gen X. I have seen Baby Boomers guilty of the “WIIFM?” approach too. Can you see what I am getting at? People from all age brackets and walks of life are blameworthy of this seemingly felonious social faux pas. The question that begs to be answered though is this: how long will it be until a total disregard for others and an absence of manners isn’t any longer a faux pas, but a socially accepted norm?

Written by disseminatedthought

July 27, 2010 at 18:56