Saturday, 8 October 2011

Two things that make me seethe - but I say nothing, while boiling inside.

1) Shoes on train seats
When I was young this was considered to be one of the heights of bad manners, disrespectful to anyone who might want to sit down in that place, even if that person was not yet on the scene. If this uncouth habit was done at all it was only by unthinking youngsters who could be guaranteed to be told off by nearby or passing adults - and certainly by train conductors and inspectors. Now everyone does it, irrespective of age -  leaving me to just sit there, trying to bury myself in a book but my mind not on it, while my blood pressure rises and rises. I know that if I said anything I'd almost certainly be ignored, told to "Go away!" or laughed at or even be set upon. Train staff themselves, passing through, hardly ever seem to care. It wouldn't be quite so bad (though still bad enough), if the seats were bare wood or plastic or metal, something which could be easily wiped clean. But they are invariably upholstered with some kind of fabric which retains the dirt and would need professionally cleaning to get it out. Very occasionally one might see the 'offender' taking their shoes off or, better still, placing their shod feet on a newspaper spread out on the seat. That I can live with, though it is very rare.
I can't help wondering if in their homes they place their shoes on chairs, settees etc. Actually on TV I see that nowadays they do indeed do that - even sometimes raising their shoes onto beds, for crying out loud! I can fully understand that such people might not respect others whom they live with. That's their own business. But in public places I was brought up to assume that the other person, even if a total stranger, was automatically entitled to respect. To my mind, putting shoes on seats where other members of the public may sit, categorically flouts that. Just what is society coming to?

2. Plastic carrier bags
It must be a good 20 years ago when I stopped using these environment-damaging items for shopping, turning to re-useable cloth bags. Yet even now, despite ALL the publicity, every time I go to a supermarket, most of the customers in the queue at the cash till ahead of me are using several bags. I've recently counted one person using no less than TEN! And they can't be re-using them - they just cannot be!. Each time they go to the shops they'll ask for more - and more - and more - as though using these receptacles is an essential part of shopping procedure.
   I've heard that each of these bags can take anything from 200 to 1,000 years to degrade. A statistic that brought it home only last week was that in Wales alone (population 3 million), where it has been decided to put an insultingly lowly price of 5 pence per bag, around 400 million of these bags are used every single year. Of course there are the predictable vociferous complaints about this levy - "nanny state", "personal choice" etc.- as though there's no such thing as community responsibility, or that it should at be an 'option'.
  We've all seen the dire damage these polluting items can do to wild life, both animal and plant-life - and the hideously painful and slow death they can mean to those of the former who ingest them thinking that they are food. But even if the users aren't moved by this I would have thought that at least that they'd be concerned about the damaging effects they are leaving to future generations - and to their very own children and grandchildren in particular. But no, it doesn't occur to them. Even if it did, they don't even seem to care!
I find the same as with climate change. Even though I say it myself, it seems remarkable that so many of those with greatest concern for the future are those who are without children of their own. Not every single one, I grant, but certainly those I've known and worked with who do have children are the ones most likely to laugh off such concerns.

Maybe I just ought to accept that my attitudes on the two matters above are conclusive proof that I'm really an old-fashioned, wingeing and crusty fuddy-duddy. Oh well, maybe there won't be too long to wait before I'm finally 'out of it' for good . But if there is an after-life, and on the carrier bag issue especially, I'm still likely to be biting my nails as I look down and see what's going on.


  1. Point 1 - Guilty as charged. I can't quite identify when I went from never doing this (as was the case) to doing it on occasion. I don't do it if it is, or has been wet though...

    Point 2 - I try to avoid taking carriers when I can, and to remember the multi-use strong ones when going for a big shop.

    They reckoned that when the bag tax was introduced in Ireland, it had a huge impact on waste bags, so I don't think the Welsh tax will be without impact. That said, 5 million a year between 3 million people doesn't sound like many at all - could it be every week?

  2. Andrew, I was fully expecting comments admitting to doing at least one of my most disliked habits, if not both. I doubt if you'll be the only one. But, trying to rein back my censoriousness, I'm interested to know if you place your shoes onto your own furniture at home - or, perhaps even in others' homes! I have known some who do. If they do it in my home, on that occasion I do speak up.

    You are right about the number of plastic bags used in Wales. I've now altered the figure, rather substantially as you'll see, to the figure used by the B.B.C., which seems much more likely - and horrific. (Don't know where I got the 5 million from!) Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. I completely agree!
    Feet up is just rude and bad manners - and bad hygiene as well. A nasty habit showing again we are going to ruin

    Stray white plastic bags end up in fences and bushes, and are called Witch Knickers by some of us; and some of us call it "State Flag of Arkansas" - but I too am saying nothing.

  4. Dr Spo, (Re: Shoes on seats) I'm not only delighted that you are reinforcing our dwindling numbers (I'm happy to have ANYONE!) but additionally chuffed that someone as learned and respected as yourself should be on 'our' side. Sadly, I fear we are fighting a losing battle.

    On plastic bags you end with an equivocal phrase which leads me to think that you just MAY be on the 'other' side (i.e. not mine), while wishing you weren't. I think that this is a battle that just HAS to be won for the sake of the future of humanity and the planet. A levy on the purchase of these pollutants must surely be a sensible first move.

  5. Ray, I'd never put my feet on public seats and don't think it is appropriate. I will confess that at home and at our friends' places my feet(in socks) go were they are comfortable, well, because they can and it is allowable in those places.

    I can't even start on the plastic bags or I will be here all day. I will say it is well past time for the world population to adopt using canvas bags for shopping needs.

  6. Kyle, I have no issue at all with socked/stocking feet on upholstery (you might be relieved to hear), even on trains, provided it's not under your very nose - and certainly not in one's or anyone else's home, the latter if there's explicit or implied permission.

    Yes, plastic bags is a BIG subject and I just cannot comprehend why, after all we've been told for many years, or even decades, so many people have STILL not got the message - or, if they have, they don't care. It really brings me to the edge of despair. You too, I know.

    Thanks for visiting again, my friend.

  7. I am also conscience of people putting their feet where they do not belong. I cannot say anything about it though, as I am guilty of doing this on a daily basis. Yes, at the gym after I put my shoes on, I put my feet up on the bench to tie my shoes. Shhhh, don't tell anyone.

    I am guilty of using too many plastic bags too. America switched from brown paper to plastic long ago in part because off all the folks raising hell about all the trees that had to be chopped down to make the bags. Unfortunately, we just exchanged one evil for another.

    In the U.S. the cashier is typically the one who puts the groceries in the bags while the shopper stands by. The cashiers don't seem to be willing to fill the plastic bags with many items. This is a big part of the waste problem. Sometimes I come home with 15 bags when the contents could EASILY fit in 5 bags.

  8. Cubby, in America don't they have re-useable shopping bags made of re-cycled material? I'm sure they must have. I know that you've got to buy them first, which I suppose puts some off, though the prices are very low. The practice of using carrier bags are not likely to decrease significantly until everywhere charges for them. Then people WILL take notice, even if the price is just a very few pence.
    Yes, at our supermarkets too you can ask for help in packing, and like yours, the assistants seem to think nothing of using bags to excess. They are the ones who really ought to know better.