What I Hated the Least Today 140/365: Ticket Collector

What I Hated the Least Today 140/365: Ticket Collector


*In this post nothing happens.*

My country’s public transport operates on a self-service system which places responsibility and trust in the hands of travellers. The passenger is required to procure a ticket prior to getting on the vehicle and then punch it in a mechanical device placed in vehicles. This operational plan is conductive to creating blind passengers, wilfully so or otherwise. (Not blind passengers as of blinded by punching their eye instead of their ticket but blind passengers as of seeing passengers who don’t see the need to have a ticket.)

I stopped indulging in the sports of trying to obtain a free ride and hoping to get away with it at the wrong moment. It was precisely at the point when I learned to recognise reliably, at the distance of twenty meters and more, all ticket collectors on duty in my city. Ticket collectors are devised as the controlling mechanism – they occasionally materialise on buses and trams and demand to see your ticket. (I usually tell them I’ll show you mine if you show me yours since I’ve noticed the ticket collectors also punch their tickets.)

This morning I was waiting for a bus with a senior ticket collector waiting alongside. He is the longest-serving public harassment official to my knowledge and I can always tell him by his passive-aggressive mien. His hair was horribly mangled, as per usual, but his face, curiously, was still not. I’d expect that ticket collectors get jumped at on the regular by frustrated ticketless citizens, the risks of their jobs matching those of tax and debt collectors.

I climbed on the bus, punched my ticket, taking care not to punch the ticket collector, and shoved my freshly defaced ticket in the man’s face before he even came out as the public enemy. I think I blew his cover. The bus driver clearly knew his man too, for he punched a button and the bus loudspeakers started to advise the travellers that there was a raid and that they should get their tickets ready for inspection. I applied my ear buds and shut the noise off.

What I Hated the Least Today 129/365: Not Not While the Giro

What I Hated the Least Today 129/365: Not Not While the Giro

A giro recipient contemplates life (the plastic bottle surely contains vodka)
A giro recipient contemplates life (the plastic bottle surely contains vodka)

*The following is mildly depressing and largely confused.*

This post takes its title from James Kelman’s early collection of short stories, Not Not While the Giro (1983). These were published a decade before Kelman established himself as the chronicler of working-class Glasgow and was launched to fame by winning, with much controversy, the Booker Prize for his novel How Late It Was, How Late (1994).

My reading knowledge of Scots working-class literary dialect is based on guessing—there’s not really a dictionary for the language of the likes of James Kelman, Irvine Welsh and others—hence I never bothered to look up the meaning of giro and assumed that it was social security money. It is for sure in Kelman’s world, but today I discovered that GIRO stands for General Interbank Recurring Order, a phrase that made me dizzy until I realised that it’s what my language calls SIPO. I will not undertake the extreme effort of trying to back-translate this region-specific abbreviation into English.

I never benefited much from the social security support system because I had the good luck of never being drastically poor, just average poor. As I graduated with a PhD last year and inevitably became unemployed, I applied for a bunch of social security benefits and actually was awarded some. I found it rather amazing that a person just walks in and gets money by the sole virtue of being unemployed. (For the sake of brevity, I’m putting aside the red-tape load on the applicant which corresponds to a full-time job workload.)

Among other benefits, I applied for housing support—for lack of a better phrase—a dedicated benefit for those who earn too little to be able to pay their rent and utilities. (Which I think is almost everyone, but I’m not even going to try to penetrate into the logic, if any, of the system.) On submitting my application, I was granted support worth about 20 per cent of my rent. The application is re-examined each three months (which includes re-submitting all paperwork). My application was duly re-examined and today I received a notice that my benefit was raised to cover about 40 per cent of my rent.

I’m extraordinarily delighted. Of course, my delight is bound to be short-lived, since I started to operate as a self-employed individual and after a few months, when the social security system updates their data (the benefit is sent out in back-payments covering the past three months, hence the delay), it will be me again who will start feeding the state money. Now I’m enjoying myself while I can and while the giro.

I continue to be puzzled by the entire system though. I don’t even know where to start as I lack an underlying logical pattern to it. All I have is a bunch of jumbled questions, including but not limited to:

  • How come a regular full-time job (secretary, university teacher, translator, to name those I could do) comes nowhere close to covering basic life expenses (rent and food)?
  • How do I work two jobs when one job takes up about forty hours a week + commute time?
  • Is there a way to draw social security benefits that doesn’t involve having numerous children?
  • When education and skills don’t secure one a job to sustain oneself, what does?
  • How do other people do that (besides living in couples to split the costs)?
  • What am I missing?







What I Hated the Least Today 105/365: Big Daddy


My students are creatures extremely inventive and, as often as not, extremely annoying. When these qualities combine, less resilient teachers go mad and teachers who won’t be messed up with, like me, switch into a defence mode which borders on offence mode. Let it be stated for the record that as long as a group of people doesn’t behave like people, I don’t feel obliged to treat them as people.

A curious situation occurred in the last class when I, as per usual, asked my class to put up their name tags. While one would expect them to be adjusted to this routine, they usually either forget what a name tag is (their English is somewhat limited, for students of English), or forget their name tag and spend five to ten minutes crafting a new one or come up with something which they probably deem funny. Such as the student who put in front of himself a piece of paper reading B.I.G. DADDY.

I wasn’t as much thrown off balance by the sheer cheekiness of his action as rather curious to find out what the hell the guy meant by it. I’ve been marked by my years spent at the philosophical faculty too much to settle for the explanation that things don’t mean anything. As I was trying to crack the puzzle, I had a brief conversation with the offender in the same tone in which he initiated it. That is, not precisely a model troubleshooting teaching method.

I shared my opinion with the perpetrator and the class that his parents must have hated him fiercely if they named him this and concluded that I would hereafter take the liberty of calling him You, you know whom I mean (YYKWIM), which shall have the beneficial effect of teaching the class the usage of whom. YYKWIM went red in his face but otherwise remained nonplussed. He probably likes to embarrass himself in public.

The remainder of the class proceeded in the same mood, as it happens to be my most difficult group, consisting of thirty or so worst individuals thrown together to amplify the effect. I did my best to move around to intimidate the most disruptive students with my physical proximity (that didn’t work out too well, probably given my sweet-looking appearance – ha!) and aim my questions at those who were the loudest at the given moment. I didn’t shy away from sarcasm and outright humiliation.

Teacher: Exercise one, page one twenty three, read the example please, Student A.

Student A: (no response)

Teacher: Hey, Student A!

Student A: Wut?

Teacher: (repeats request)

Student A: (no response)

Teacher: Will someone please poke Student A to wake her up?

Student B: (stops playing Candy Crush and makes to poke Student A on Facebook)


Teacher: Next sentence, please, Student C.

Student C: Where are we?

Teacher: That’s for you to know.

Student C: (nothing)


Teacher: Now, that’s a tricky sentence, so will you translate it into Czech, please, Student D?

Student D: (remains quiet)

Teacher: Well? Working on it?

Student D: Dunno.

Teacher: Will someone help your colleague out, preferably someone who speaks English?


I enjoyed my class more than I probably should. The students seemed to have less fun than me, but it clearly didn’t occur to them to reconsider their attitude. While I felt accomplished in my demolition of the class, I was somewhat disconcerted by one student’s question at the end as to when their regular teacher is coming back. I wonder if the student asked because their regular teacher manages them better. But then, she probably wouldn’t have ended up going insane.


What I Hated the Least Today 100/365: Yoga Check

I’ve been practising yoga at home half-heartedly for a year and vigorously for the last three months. I devised a strictly anti-zen branch of yoga, which has the same postures minus the spiritualism. In yoga according to Mara, it’s essential for the yogi not to enjoy herself and to persist in practice solely to prove herself that she can.

In keeping with my perception of yoga as homework, today I made a video of my workout so that I could check how wrong exactly I’m doing it and adjust my asanas accordingly. I think my home video deserves an Academy Award for the comedy of the year. While I’m not going to share the video, I took a few screenshots to show you how it’s not done.

Most Messed Up Poses


Less Messed Up Poses


My Workout Model Video