Friday, January 15, 2010
Etymology: Greek misanthrōpos hating humankind, from misein to hate + anthrōpos human being
Def: a person who hates or distrusts humankind.
Well, there we have it people: I am officially pigeon-holed. The more time I spend outside of my comfy nook on the sofa, the less I like. Of course this doesn't apply to you, beloved reader, but every family member, friend or colleague of yours who crosses my path. I feel I must have inherited this trait from my dad. Ma Mafyooz is generally what you'd term a 'people person', whereas Pa Mafyooz, since we're into alliteration, would have been defined as a 'grumpy git', and I fear it is a path I am destined to follow.
Take flights, for example. Now don't get me wrong, I love to travel. The airport arrivals section is my favourite place in the whole world. Never have I seen someone walk through the arrival gate to be greeted by disappointed family members rolling their eyes and saying "oh, it's you again." No, people are always joyous and greeting someone they haven't seen for a long time - it's great. It's the other end of the airport I have a problem with: Departures.
So you walk in to the airport, find your airline and enter where the sign says "Bags to check-in", right? Well no, apparently I always seem to be in the queue behind someone who thinks the sign reads "Bags and common sense to check-in". I always get stuck behind the person who put their passport in their suitcase and proceeds to strew the contents of the case around the floor whilst looking for it. Or the person who doesn't understand the concept of a weight allowance, or a number of suitcases allowance.
I'm the mug behind the person in the security line who has queued for twenty minutes to get to the screening area and only then realises that they have to take off their jacket, remove their laptop from its case etc. I am the one who, without exception, is behind the person who finds their seat on the plane and then stands in the middle of the aisle to remove all the crap from their "hand luggage" which they think they'll need for the next eight hours. Two magazines, a crossword book, a Danielle Steele novel, a bag of M&M's, an inflatable neck pillow and a travel-toothbrush set later; I might get to my seat.
You may have noticed my use of quotation marks around the word "hand luggage". It never ceases to amaze me how my fellow travellers define this term. As far as I am concerned, if you can't lift it yourself, it is not hand luggage. No, I will not help you to lift it into the overhead locker because you’re unable do it by yourself. Also, if you need to use more than the space above your own seat....it is NOT hand luggage! I have lost count of the number of times I have seen people cramming huge objects in to other lockers on the plane because they have stuffed their own to the gills with baggage that is bigger than my entire suitcase. I fail to see how your gross underestimation of the volume of your own personal items is my problem. I will toss your items to the floor if I find you have put them in my allocated space before I have even boarded the plane...it's just rude!
Every time I fly, I think I will encounter different people with none of the above-listed major freakin’ malfunctions, and every time, I am disappointed. Oh how I long to afford to fly first class. Not that I think my experience will differ greatly, I’ll just have a wider aisle to pass the person playing silly buggers and a couple of inches of extra legroom when I eventually reach my seat.
My astonishment at how irritating my fellow man can be continued when I came back to Minneapolis after Christmas in London. I was walking home from work after the city had been battered by twenty inches of snow over Christmas weekend and was marveling at the rather beautiful snow banks which had sprung up over the city from having the streets ploughed. They are quite impressive when they first loom up, before cars have splashed them with muddy slush, it gives the whole place a Hansel & Gretel kind of magic. I was trudging dreamily home, thinking thoughts of gingerbread houses with icing on the roofs when my eyes fell upon a startling motif in the snow.
It was a Pollock-esque splodge of brilliant orange, with hints of red emanating from the epicentre. I don’t know why it struck me so, but I needed a closer look – I think it was the high-contrast with the immaculate white powder. As I neared the bank I saw the depressions made by molten hot rocks which had penetrated the snow. It was then that I realized…someone had vomited into the snow bank. At once I began to feel very let down for some reason – I don’t know quite what I had expected it to be, but not this.
The rest of my walk home I pondered what could have made such a vibrant colour. Gatorade? Chicken Tikka-Masala? Antifreeze? Who knew. Just as my mind began to recover from the trauma of what I had just seen, my thoughts were interrupted once more on this solitary amble by the sight of an impressive snow sculpture, towering from one of the gardens overlooking Lyndale Avenue. Somebody had, ahem, erected an 8ft phallus replete with the, howyousay…two veg. I must admit I giggled to myself, for it is here in Minnesota that we have to find winter projects to stave off cabin fever (like Project Igloo) or we go crazy! Some build igloos, some build sweat lodges or snowmen, others build 8ft tall monuments to no-doubt 8cm body parts.
So next time it snows in your part of the world, get creative. Don’t grumble about the weather, or hide indoors, or moan that "the council ain’t gritted the feckin’ roads!". Call in sick to work so you don't have to spend time with those douchebags at work and start a sculpture!