Archive for August, 2011

Car Horns & Alarms….

Posted in Uncategorized on August 20, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

About 2 a.m. last night (or should I say this morning) I was dragged out of my sleep.   I wasn’t awoken by a nightmare or the urge to use the bathroom or even the telephone.  It was the sound of two toots of a car horn and the blast of music coming from the offending car.   Yes, I cursed at the sound.  I even felt like peeking through the blinds with one eye half open  and my hair looking like family of squirrels were redecorating and yelling through the window, “shut f*#&-up!”  But, I’m a lady and will only think and never utter such thoughts!  But, even a lady can get pissed by inconsiderate disruptions to her peace.

I don’t understand why so many people think a car horn is a form of communication.  When you drop your friend off or are picking them up, why not get out of the car?   Why not use the personal touch and speak to that person directly?  You can even use your cell phone if you must!  But, the car horn?!   I don’t think so.    Why do I need to be involved in your ‘discussion’ with your friends via car horn in the middle of the night?  Guess what people?  When you toot-toot that car horn it isn’t just your friend who hears it.   Everyone does.

Likewise with your car alarm.  I can accept a car alarm accidently going off.  But, I don’t think the accident should happen every ten minutes over a two hour period.  When that happens it defeats the whole purpose of the alarm!  As a matter of fact, if I were a car thief I think I’d scout-out a car where the alarm kept going off because after the third false alarm people stop paying attention.  And if the police are called, believe me it won’t be to ‘save’ your car.

So, people, let’s go back to basics:  car horns and alarms are designed to be used as warning systems.  They are not there as a way of telling your friends good night at 2 a.m. or to be used as an alarm clock to make sure you wake-up in time for your favourite show.   They are loud, obnoxious noise-makers designed to say “watch-out everybody” or “get your hands-off me!  You don’t own me!”    When used for any other reason, all you’re actually saying  is, “f *ck-you! ”   

Good night!



“No shirt, no shoes, no freshness of oral and overall body odour, no service.”

Posted in Uncategorized on August 9, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

Years ago I worked in a department store to pay my way through university.   To this day, my most vivid memory remains the day I signed my contract.

What stood out in the document was the section on the dress code.   Actually it was the bold type face addressing body odour: “both men and women are required to maintain freshness of oral and overall body odour while on the floor serving customers.”   I admit I wanted to laugh when I read that section.   I always took it for granted that with the exception of those whose circumstances placed these basics beyond their control (eg: homeless and those with glandular issues), not smelling offensive was part of basic social grace and etiquette.  Well, guess what?   It isn’t!

I work with the public from Monday to Friday.   Due to the nature of my work I am privy to the extent of peoples’ financial resources.   With that said, it is too often that I come across people I can smell before they reach the threshhold of  my office door.

These people are not suffering any illness or misfortune.   They aren’t coming in from a hard day of physical labour or the gym either.   They just have not washed.  And adding insult to injury is the fact that I know they  can afford to buy soap and use water every day.  Yet, for some reason they choose not to.  

I would like to know why.  Why do these people invade my work space expecting courteous service and a handshake when they have not shown me or my colleagues the courtesy of taking care of their hostile and aggressive body odour?  On more than one occasion I have watched colleagues come close to fainting after holding their breath too long while trying not to inhale the fumes coming off the client they were serving.     Personally, I have actually vomitted after such an encounter.

I admitt that from  from time to time we all smell a little less than fresh for whatever reason.  But there is a limit of decency on this.  When smells from your body and clothing reach the point of being described as pungent and the vapours are visible, it’s time for good scrub.  It’s time for soap, water, your body — entire body —  and clothing to become acquainted on very good and prolonged terms.   No, quick  “Soap meet Body, Body meet Soap.  Now say good bye.”  I’m talking about a very long and intimate encounter …

But, until that day comes I’ll just have to keep holding my breath waiting to see signs everywhere that read:   “No shirt, no shoes, no freshness of oral and overall body odour, no service.”


Rudeness … A Major Source of Childhood Danger

Posted in Children, children and manners, communication, Etiquette, Manners, parenting on August 2, 2011 by Olivia A. Harris

“Don’t make me have to speak to you once we’ve left this house!” Those were the words my father always said to me and my brother whenever we went out as a family. My mother would stand by and punctuate my father’s declaration with ‘the look’.

It was not that my parents didn’t want to speak to us in public. Afterall, we are a family of talkers. It is rare that one of us has an opinion we don’t feel compelled to share. The message my father was trying to get across to his children was the difference between ‘required’ and ‘voluntary’ communication. There is a difference.

Voluntary communication for my parents would essentially be pleasant exchanges with their children when visiting family. Rudeness would fall into the category of required communication. You know what I mean.

Mom: “Tell your Auntie her gravy is delicious.”
Me: “I can’t! It’s cold and nasty.”
Mom: “Tell her anyway.”
Dad: (hissed between clenched teeth covered by his moustache) “Don’t make me have to come over there and talk to you!”
Me: “Auntie, that is really nice gravy!”

Now the described scenario falls somewhere between the two noted forms of communication. Had I been foolish enough to stand my ground, my behaviour would have been judged as rude and I condemned to swift discipline. Luckily I remembered the usual warning received before we left our house. Had I forgotten this my father would have been ‘required’ to talk to me. In fact, it would have been the sort of discussion where my input would not have been best kept to myself.

I must admitt that as I child I hated all of this. As a teenager it made me laugh. Now as an adult I appreciate the value in it all.

I now understand my parents weren’t trying to hurt me (well, not for the most part). They were trying to cultivate in me a sense of appropriate behaviour . For instance, sometimes you compliment a host on their meal, not because you like it, but as a sign of appreciation for the effort they made on your behalf. More importantly, my parents wanted me to grow up to be a decent and respectful person. They wanted me to understand that when you leave your home and enter that of another, to make sure the only memory you leave behind is a pleasant one of your visit. And nothing else.

Recently I have noticed many parents are not sharing these lessons with their children. As a result their childrern are often difficult to be around. I’ve noticed that these parents will let their little darlings act out with excuses, offense after offense, until suddenly they snap. Then it isn’t pretty. It all ends with cursing and tears by both parents and child.

Each time I’ve witnessed one of these melt-downs, I always think, if only they had used my father’s technique they could have taught their children early on that rudeness is a major source of childhood danger.

– Mantha Baby