Hi Pete, I’ve read your column before and you seem to know a lot about local etiquette. You are yet to touch on behavioural standards in supermarkets though, so get a load of this. The other day I was at my local gourmet place and noticed a woman heading to the checkout ahead of me with a full trolley. I suppose I could have scooted past her with my single item, but that felt a bit childish, so I just queued behind her at the single open counter as you do. I’ve been in this situation many times and always check the person behind me to see what they have, and let them go ahead if its only an item or two. Anyway said woman looked at me holding my bottle of milk – in fact really looked me up and down – and then proceeded to empty the contents of her trolley on the bench without a word. On reflection, it’s not the 10 minutes I wasted standing there that bothers me, it’s the lack of acknowledgment and sense of community that’s the tragedy here. Do your best Pete!

    Callum, Seddon (via Facebook)

    You’re a better man than I Callum. Not only would I have found no shame in bolting in front of someone in this situation, I might have even considered pushing them over in the process for good measure! I hear it’s dog-eat-dog these days in the streets of Seddon! On the flip-side, if you’re so community minded, why didn’t you help this person guide this burgeoning trolley, or help unload its vast contents onto the counter? The woman in question probably looked at you hoping for some sort of assistance, but no, you just stood there holding your bottle of milk and petty grudge. Who’s selfish now?

    Pete in your line of work you probably come across plenty of sociopaths, so this probably won’t surprise you. Last week I received a call from a government department at 5 minutes to 5 o’clock on a Friday, not only to deliver some bad news about a failed funding request, but they literally started the conversation with “I realise it’s 5 to 5 and I know you don’t work on Fridays…” Seriously – who does that!?

    Didi, Williamstown North (via Facebook Messenger)

    Let me get this straight Didi. You want me to make a diagnosis of a person I’ve never met, about whom I know nothing and have only a second-hand story to use as a basis for my analysis, provided by a potentiality jilted grant seeker? Challenge accepted! So this person works in government and called you in the last 5 minutes of a work week? Clearly they were packing up for the weekend – probably to go skiing – and suddenly realised they hadn’t actually done any work that week. So they quickly looked through their emails, skimming past the ones titled “Find hot girls in your city tonight” and “Earn billions today via Bitcoin” to find the one thing they were supposed to achieve, and noticed in their calendar they were meant to call you sometime last month! So by completing this task they were able to place two big ticks in their plan management against some crucial KPIs – “make at least one phone call” and “justify own existence”!

    Dear Ask Pete, I have another airline baggage drama for you. I recently had a 30 kilogram limit on a long haul flight from Melbourne Airport and put my bags on the belt and the guy says “Sorry you’re over – that will be $150USD unless you can remove 900 grams. WTF?

    Jessica, West Footscray (via Email)

    I feel for you on a certain level Jessica, as this person is either a particularly petty individual, having a bad day, or both. But let’s face it, you’re heading off on an overseas adventure, and only have to find 900 grams from 30.9 kilograms worth of baggage, so the sympathy levels aren’t high. What do you do? Smile, think of yourself sipping Mai-tais while you watch a long, glowing sunset over Waikiki Beach, and find something weighing you down. Why don’t you yank out that hardback copy of Scott Morrison’s biography “Climate change – It’s all part of God’s great plan”, and throw it straight in the bin! (The recycling bin of course).


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