So there I was the other afternoon, pegging it up a busy city footpath — not too fast, not too slow, maintaining a reasonable distance behind the couple in front of me, a middle-aged man and a middle-aged tiny woman.
Shorts and summer shirt for him, short-sleeved top for her, his and her rucksacks, and a map in her tanned hand.
I was a man on a mission, with just enough time to pick up an item in the pharmacy before work.
Suddenly, the little woman, drawing the map up close to her eyes and gabbling furiously to her companion, came to an instant puzzled stop.
Right on a bustling street corner, off Grafton Street, one of Dublin city’s busiest thoroughfares at any time but at the height of summer now, like the Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo — at rush hour.
I almost clobbered her with the work bag that came swinging violently off my right shoulder and threw me stumbling to my right, making all sorts of hurried adjustments to my flight path, all to avoid these human-sized blips on my radar.
This particular pair of blips were oblivious to me and to all the others behind me who had taken similar evasive action.
Being Irish and crap at confrontation — unless confronted first — I said nothing to the tourist pair — they had never even turned around, and were just about to move off, having recalibrated their route, and I just went around them, muttering.
Bit of a thing though, isn’t it, this not giving a feck about other people as you go about your business?
Happening more and more … in all sorts of social interactions.
We all know, for example, those buggers who pile up a ton of stuff at the supermarket check-out, and then, and only then, when the smiling assistant tells her — yes, it’s usually a woman — how much does she thrust a braceleted arm into her enormous handbag, eventually locate her bulging wallet, slowly take it out, all the while chatting amiably with the assistant as she sifts through ATM cards, receipts and scribbled bunion remedies, and finally slides her card into the slot and taps through her payment.
Smiles with delight as she fills up her Gucci shopping bags — okay I made that bit up — and skips off.
The whole queue is left grumbling but, again, this impediment to human progress and evolution, is oblivious.
Probably parked outside in a parents with kids parking spot.
Or maybe she’s the very woman who would challenge the person who gets out of that car with no squabbling three-year or buggy in the boot.
And my own pet hate, teenage exchange students crowding the path and spilling out on to the road and everyone has to walk around them. Muttering. Me, not them.
I’m sure you have your own bugbears or maybe buggy-bearers — you know the ones, they assume right of way getting on the busy bus, and feck you and your ankles, mate!
Anyway this time, my head went off on one, fantasy that is, and before you say it, I have been watching a lot of World Cup football.
I thought of referring them to VAR — the Video Assistant Referee — you know the little video kiosk thing, like in a 1980s gaming arcade, where the ref goes to check contentious decisions?
So, imagine I filmed the Grafton Street Strollers stopping and blocking all the human traffic behind them? A lovely wide-angle video grab.
Downloaded it to the VAR kiosk that mysteriously appeared beside me, right where the Molly Malone statue used to be.
Looked at the incident from various angles, reached a conclusion, and ran off after the couple and referee-whistled them to a halt, with my other hand raised up in the bustling Dublin city centre air.
Then marched them into the VAR kiosk.
I would show them the incident, from every conceivable angle, leaving them in no possible doubt about their crime and their guilt, and then take off my referee’s ear-piece and paraphernalia and take out my coaching tactics board.
Now I expect arguments and exaggerated pleas of innocence, but I will be firm. I’ll put on my supercilious referee’s “I’m-right-you’re-wrong ” face and just blank all discussion.
If they persist it’s a yellow card — each! — and if they don’t I will blow my whistle hard enough to bring the entire street to a halt and take out my RED card.
Any more nonsense out of them now and they run the risk of a street ban! Zero tolerance.
No, best accept the referee’s decision is final and we can get on to the next stage: working on the right way of stopping on a busy street. Decelerate evenly — hand signals are optional — and come to a smooth halt, pulling in to the inside.
See? That was easy wasn’t it? — and no possible whiplash for me or the people behind.
Or better still, to satisfy my Jose Mourinho-meets-Cecille-B-De-Mille megalomaniacal tendencies, I could call in everyone from the original off-Grafton Street scene and choreograph and then again work through the knock-on effects of the original illegal stopping manoeuvre.
No director’s megaphone, mind, just me bossing everyone around, steering a shoulder here, a hand there, fussing over some trivial, but not to me, set detail, positioning and repositioning people all over my human tactics board — having gone through it all on my little plastic coaching board with its mini soccer pitch and magnetic black and red dots, until the whole thing is operating as smoothly as any 3-5-3 formation in Russia.
That’s it, VAR kiosks at every street corner, in every school … or perhaps not!
But maybe it’s what teachers should be doing with the kids in whatever they now call those mind-numbing Civic classes we had when I was in school.
Film a whole pile of real-live socially contentious situations and put them through some super-duper app or filter like the kids do on their iPhones, so you can do all that fancy editing stuff, just like on YouTube.
Put them up on the screen and the teacher talks them through the whole thing, what they did wrong, how they could do it better, and how society as a whole would be a far (VAR) better place without thoughtless women holding up a whole supermarket queue, students blocking up the path, or buggy pushers driving over your feet to get to the cheese counter in SuperValu.
Or you could film domestic incidents, like when they and their fellow teenagers let those dishes and congealed smoothie dregs pile up in their bedrooms or your home office, but then go mad when you don’t keep the space clear in the kitchen they reserve for preparing their smoothies. And don’t clean the blender properly after them either.
Just call in VAR, teach, and you’ll have them ready to run the world the way it should be. Not just the way they would like it to be.
There will be arguments, of course …. but it might liven up those Civics classes!
- If you enjoyed what you have just read, try another one! Try them all! Seriously, follow my blog and you won’t miss out again. Thanks for reading.