Irrational Encounters With The Modern World


Getting Carried Away With Environmental Duty.

I bought a new pair of jeans yesterday, from a well-known and low-priced High Street retailer. For a few years now, this retailer has been putting all purchases into paper bags as a matter of course.

As the assistant reached for one yesterday, a particularly wet day even for Glasgow, I asked if she didn’t have one that was perhaps a little more waterproof.

“I’ll double-bag it for you,” she said, and put the paper bag inside another paper bag. This didn’t afford any additional protection from the elements, but it did allow me to carry twice as much soggy paper around. Until the handle predictably gave way.

I can’t help but feel that any environmental benefit of using paper bags is offset by the need to immediately wash your new clothes, after the bag has disintegrated and they have landed in a puddle.

I understand that paper is better than plastic as it breaks down faster. It would just be useful if it didn’t fully biodegrade on the journey home.



Counter Service Intelligence

I had two encounters that amused me today, but you’ll need some background for the first one.

Prior to Christmas, I was employed by the Royal Mail via Manpower via the Work Programme. That sounds a bit messy, and it was. The job was meant to last until March, but lasted just fifteen days. There’s plenty more I plan to say about that in due course. Manpower’s staff and conduct were abysmal, so I made a formal complaint. This went to a grievance hearing, at their invitation, and the letter of outcome that arrived last week was very unsatisfactory in many ways. Feeling that they just don’t care, I wrote a letter to head office appealing the decision, but keeping my tongue firmly in my cheek. That letter will undoubtedly appear here once they have had the chance to respond – my wee sister read it and cried laughing. Today, though, I went to the Post Office to mail it.

The counter clerk, a wee Glesga Woman, took it from me, and asked if there was anything of value in it – vouchers, cheques, etc. I said no, only satire.

“What’s satire?” she asked, “Is that a flag?”

“No, that’s The Saltire.”

“So what’s satire then?”

“Sarcasm,” I said, explaining briefly the content of the letter and reason for sending it. She was happy to have learned a new word, and said she felt bad having to charge me to post it. I said that was fine, just so long as they don’t lose it…


From there, I went to The Co on the corner of Gordon Street and Union Street to pay a bill. They have the electronic voice thing that beckons you forth, and I was directed to Cashier Number Seven Please. Glancing up at the numbered LED displays above each till, it was obvious that they only go up to six. I took my chances, and went for the last till. When I mentioned the anomaly, the girl said “I know, I don’t know why that is.”

I asked if it was a joke, so they could stand and laugh at anyone stood scratching their head while trying to work out why they’d been called to the seventh till in a line of six. She laughed and said “Aye, that’s it.”

That was my entertainment for the day, not least because they both happened within minutes of each other. Sometimes I’m easy pleased.