"I'm all in favour of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters."
Frank Lloyd Wright
Monday, May 25, 2009
We moan, therefore we are
A new survey released today shows pretty much what we already knew - the Irish are world class moaners. Second only to the English in the global survey, we spend almost 10 hours a week moaning.
That's not complaining, mind you.
We can moan about weather, tiredness, traffic and work, but we must never, ever complain.
I stood by last week, watching with a mixture of in awe and horror, as a woman stepped out of a supermarket queue to complain to a series of security guards, checkout girls and finally a gum chewing manager. I couldn't even tell you what she was complaining about - me and my fellow gawkers were so stunned and embarrassed that someone had raised their voice in a public place that I couldn't take in the subject matter. Shouty Woman was Irish, middle class and (apart from the shouting) betrayed no obvious signs of mental illness. How rare and wonderful to have someone stand up and demand their rights. And how mortifying for the rest of us.
All the consumer watchdogs, experts and give-'em-hell enthusiasts encourage us to haggle for prices, complain when we're slighted and stand up for ourselves. I probably exceed my alloted 10 hours of moaning per week, but I couldn't complain if you paid me. I entertain notions of stern, scolding letters to establishments who have wronged me, but somehow they never materialize - and not through lack of pondering exactly the right tone (firm yet reasonable - God forbid this faceless stranger should think me unreasonable). If I can't even manage to complain on paper the likelihood of me ever complaining face to face is pretty much non existent. I used to think that the power to complain would descend on me when I came of age. I never figured out what age that was, exactly.
Now, I turn to the good 'ole refuge of blaming society, Irish culture and anyone and anything I can think of. For the most part, Irish people have an acceptance of any situation. The phrase 'Ah sure it's grand' is our national protest against any suggestion of change. We'd hate to put you out.
Things are changing, slowly. Now that it's hitting our pocket, we don't mind an aul march down Kildare Street... buried anonymously in the crowd, you understand. Shouty Woman and her raised heckles were not afraid to stand alone. I'm sure she moans about the Friday evening traffic, or the rainy May weather, but she can proclaim her dissatisfaction to the world without a hint of a blush.
Me? I'll just whinge about my Monday morning blues and the fact that I can't complain.