I owe Little Bean Blue a dollar

Dear fans of Haught Feelings,

I need a little favour. I need you to make sure I don’t forget something.

You see I owe a cafe in the Melbourne CBD a dollar.

Here’s how it happened. I went into the shop this morning and, just as I was about to approach the little take-your-order area, realised I was badly short of walletal cash.

When I’m not hiding behind my keyboard writing sarcastic (and what have been referred to as “quasi-intellectual”) complaint emails I roam the real world as a graceless buffoon. For that reason, once I discovered that I was at least a dollar short, I made the decision to crouch in the doorway and rummage for a gold coin that I have intermittently sighted, Emmaville Panther-like, at the bottom of my satchel.

My preposterous delving and scratching may well have lasted for several hours had the barista not stopped me by calling “Jonathan – strong latte!”

I only heard about Little Bean Blue a little while ago and have been in about ten times ever. In the last week I think I might have been in four times. Somehow, in that minuscule amount of time, the regular barista – with whom I’ve shared no more than three words on any given day – has not only learned my name, but also my preferred coffee AND is happy to start making it before I’ve even proved my ability to make a commercial transaction.

When I started gibbering like a hitherto-cloistered middle-aged man who’s just been approached by an attractive (usually slightly younger) woman in a formulaic romantic comedy, the barista assured “You can pay later.”

Going to be honest: in love. Not just with the barista, but the cafe generally. Not only do they do the photographic memory thing, they make a fine, fine coffee.

Which is why I’m asking for this favour – don’t let me forget over the weekend that I owe Little Bean Blue a dollar!

With fondness that doesn’t require any artificial sweetener,

Jonathan

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My email to Metro Trains

I wrote a letter to Metro Trains.

Exciting times.

Dear Metro Trains,

My name is Jonathan Rivett. You might know me – I’m kind of a big deal.  (I have many leather-bound books, and my apartment smells of rich mahogany.)

If you’e not familiar with my work, here’s a quick summary. A couple of weeks ago I became very, very famous when I posted on my blog an email exchange between me and Yarra Trams.

I sent them my account of a tram trip my wife and I had endured during which a drunk man abused passengers in a theatrical baritone. I felt that Yarra Trams had been less than truthful with their insistence that the police had been called once this man’s antics had gone from entertaining to distressing and wanted to know the real story. It was an immensely humorous and exquisitely worded piece of correspondence.

Instead of coming back with a hollow, supermarket-bought reply email, Yarra Trams responded in kind. I posted their brilliant email on my blog. The radio station 3AW found it, then The Age got wind of it and the rest is history.

Anyway, long story short: I thought I’d give you a chance to better your bitter public transport rivals.

Now, you may be thinking: ‘What a contrivance! He’s going to make up some spurious claim just so he can demand a thoughtful reply email.’

In fact, I have a back catalogue of unsent Metro Trains complaints that, if put down on paper, scrunched into a ball and launched into space, would quickly begin orbiting the sun and become our solar system’s fourth largest planet.

The hardest part about writing this email will be choosing which of the sixty-five billion incidents I should mention.

Here are some from Flinders Street alone:

Not long ago a Metro customer service rep couldn’t help several passengers frustrated by a faulty myki barrier because he was too busy clearing phlegm from his throat – for one and a half minutes. He finally got around to dispensing his wisdom once the offending green stuff had been deposited in his cardboard coffee cup, which remained in his hand as he told the commuters that they were “doing it all wrong”.

Another time, a woman approached a platform attendant to clarify when a train was coming and, presumably because she was “of Asian appearance” (as they’d say on Crime Stoppers), got this response before she could even start the question: “No. No. Me no help. Me very busy – have many many work to do.  Thank you. Good bye.” The woman walked away and uttered a sotto voce “Bugger this” (in a bit of a Queensland twang), at which point the Metro representative turned around and warned “Mind your language, missy.”

I once witnessed one of your platform announcers become so angry when a commuter ignored their advice to “stand clear – the train is now departing” that they began to repeat the instruction into the microphone. The fourth time was loud, the fifth time was very loud and then it just got silly and people on the platform had to begin covering their ears. During the eighth “STAND CLEAR”, his voice cracked and from then on it sounded like he was doing an unsophisticated Will Ferrell impression. By the twelfth and final one (the one where I thought I saw blood come out of his ear), the person he was screaming at had long since boarded the train, which was at that point leaving the station.

These are just some of the more picturesque examples that come to mind. The problem with this email, I think, will be the lack of bowled bread loaf and Biff Pelican references for you to play off. And there’s a good reason for that – the bizarre behaviour of drunken passengers pales into complete insignificance when put side by side with your customer service.

Everyone understands that you have infrastructure problems that aren’t of your making. What few of us understand is your unfailing commitment to terrible, terrible communication and your unstinting lack of respect for the punters, the people who hand over their hard-earned to keep you afloat.

Why do customer service people stand in front of barriers at Caulfield Station during peak hour so that one or two are effectively out of use?

Why do your express trains regularly stop at all stations and vice-versa?

Why is sitting like a stale bottle of piss between the MCG and Federation Square now the most time-consuming (involuntary) pastime in Melbourne?

Why do you persist with this “It’s all the customers’ fault” mentality?

Why do you have so many of your surliest and most bitter employees in ‘customer facing’ roles?

Why do the numerous Twitter accounts pretending to be your company offer more insightful and timely information than the actual Metro account?

Why do you bother retaining the Metro Promise section on your website when every single bullet-point is farcical?

What you can expect from Metro:

  • Clean, comfortable, safe and punctual rail travel
Why not just add trains made entirely of platinum, sleepers made of unicorn horns and new stations in the sky?
  • Clear signage and increasing levels of real-time information updates
When you say “real time information updates” are you talking about when platform announcers make hilarious low-ball guesses at how late a train is going to be?
  • Proactive plans and actions to ensure your safety
Proactive actions? I don’t even know what that means.
  • We will bring stations to life, for everyone everyday
What, like in The NeverEnding Story when that mountain starts talking?
  • We actively encourage feedback, listen to customer views and act on them
Are you regretting this one yet?
  • We collaborate with other public transport operators to deliver seamless tram, bus and train service links
I’ve noticed one or two seams, I have to admit.
  • Regular sweeping and cleaning of stations and convenience facilities
Is a convenience facility another name for a dunny? If so, when you say “regular”, what are we talking – bicentennially?
  • Reconfigured train carriages to make peak travel more comfortable
Show me a person who finds peak hour train travel comfortable and I’ll show you a person with a fetish for claustrophobia.
  • We stand behind our promises.
If I were you, I’d stand behind solid things, not abstract ones, because a lot of people want to throw things at you.

As for those stats that you publish on the percentage of late trains and cancelled services – please! If you’re going to fudge figures, you either have to go the full Saddam Hussein or try for a more subtle – and potentially believable – deception; say 12% for “Punctuality” and 65% for “Delivery”. At the moment, with your 92s and 97s, you’re in no man’s land. Either make us laugh at your outrageous braggadocio or make us cock our heads and think “I guess it’s possible.”

Do your senior management group ever travel on the train during peak hour, and if they do, what in buggery do they make of the shambles that is their network? Do they laugh? Do they weep? Do they delude themselves into believing everything’s fine? Do they not really care as long as they keep getting subsidised by the government?

One thing they talk about a lot is improvement. They told us we’d notice it the moment Metro took over from Connex. When we noticed the opposite, they told us to be patient. When still no improvement came, they told us it was definitely coming. If you only answer one question in my email, it’s this: when? When can we expect to see this improvement? When are we getting the “world-class” system you promised? When can taking a train be a pleasant experience for Melburnians?

That just about brings my email to an end. And now the whole of Australia – and much of the world – waits with bated breath to see what you come back with.

If you can’t go all Sam Marshall on my arse, my advice would be to at least avoid corporate weasel words and keep the  passive voice to a minimum.

With much sincerity, some anticipation and very little  hope,

Jonathan Rivett

My feedback has successfully been submitted and my case number is 2012/80818.

Haught fact of the day:

The talking mountain in The NeverEnding Story was in fact a Rockbiter named Pyornkrachzark.
Other emails I’ve sent:
 __________________

Lavatory humour with a serious edge

My alter ego wrote a short story and is trying to flog it on Amazon.

It contains the lavatory references you’ve come to love from Haught Feelings, but it’s all wrapped up in a serious story about workplace boredom and that whole “an idle mind is the devil’s playground” thing.

It’s called ‘Waiting‘ and it takes the form of a Kindle Single, which is a short piece of writing that you can download straight to your Kindle, or to any device that you can get the Kindle app on.

Here’s an excerpt:

I waited.

Waiting was becoming a bad habit for me. I’d discussed it with Penny Trentham from Social Media and she’d assured me I was “waiting for inspiration.” She was wrong for a change,  although only by six letters – I was waiting for motivation.

“What’s my motivation here, David?” If only I were an actor and could reasonably ask such a question of my ‘director’.

How I wished I could put an end to these hours of inaction by standing up, striding to my manager’s office, entering without knocking, and simply rejecting the ‘role’:

“David, I’m just not feeling it. This isn’t working for me at all.”

Sometimes it was these preposterous little fantasies that got me through the day.

It wasn’t that I was lazy. Certainly not if you compared me to some of the pulses and legumes in Finance (Penny’s splendid description, not mine). One of them, whose name I think was Gregory, might well have been the most indolent person I’d ever met.

Truth be told, I had never formally met him, but I bumped into him so often that I was beginning to think of him as a sort of quasi-acquaintance. One who irritated me more and more with every absurdly frequent meeting.

I had never spoken a word to him and yet I felt I knew so much about him. He was a non-work addict, but most people on Level 3 knew that. So often was he observed wandering or loitering in places nowhere near his desk that he was beginning to gain a whispered reputation. When colleagues gossiped about “that fellow who’s always getting a cup of tea” and “the one from Finance who looks at the notice board a lot”, you knew they were talking about Gregory.

He was also a nervous man, a flincher. But, that was just another trait that anybody who’d glanced at him once or twice could easily discern.

Something about him I suspect few colleagues knew was that he had an appalling habit, while in the men’s lavatory, of breaking wind with a trumpeting ferocity that belied his thin-haired, hunch-shouldered feebleness. It annoyed me not only because it was viscerally offensive, but because he did it so shamelessly. I knew fairly certainly that this man spent much of his life avoiding even mildly difficult challenges and weaselling out of all but the most essential face-to-face interaction. But as soon as he got into the gents’ he suddenly found the audacity to force gas out his backside with the inhibition of some inebriated oaf at a motorsport event.

Perhaps he considered the Level 3 toilet to be some sort of sanctuary from the rest of the world, a place where he could relax emotionally and physically. He certainly seemed to spend a great deal of time there. (Either that or, by some implausible coincidence, every time I had to use the bathroom, he too was answering the call of nature.)

The toilet-as-haven concept incensed me perhaps more than anything else about him. Here was a man who got paid handsomely to work in the relaxed environment of a public service institution, and who spent large portions of his day hiding – and sometimes indiscriminately emitting flatus – in the restrooms.

Could he not, at the very least, have feigned industry like his straight-backed, stiff-faced colleagues in Finance?

Could he not have sat at his desk and stared at the screen? Like me.

I waited.

I looked at the screen without seeing anything. I asked my eyes to focus, but they would not. Perhaps, after all, I was not waiting for motivation, so much as intervention. I needed the fire alarm to go off, or an email from Penny, or my manager to come into our cluster and ask me how the task was coming along.

I waited, but nobody stepped into my barren world.

Toilet-as-haven. Perhaps there was something in that. Perhaps Gregory From Finance had the makings of a decent idea there. Not that I would ever retreat to the lavatories and cower there like some sort of wounded animal. But what I desperately needed was a strategy for breaking these drawn-out periods of wasted time, and a quick visit to the men’s toilet was an idea worth considering. I’d go in, splash water on my face and look at myself in the mirror like they did in the movies. Maybe, if nobody was around, I’d make a pithy, witty comment about getting a hold of myself. It wouldn’t be toilet-as-haven so much as toilet-as-film-noir-fantasy.

I stopped waiting.

He was there. Of course.

Buy it here.

My email to Kyle Sandilands [VINTAGE HAUGHT]

Today the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) said Kyle Sandilands’ November on-air ejaculation of bile was a little bit bad but mostly fine.

No idea which of the many many on-air Sandilands rants I’m talking about? Here’s a recap:

Last year about 1.7 million people said Kyle Sandilands’ new TV project was shit. A few of them said it publicly. One of these people was a journalist by the name of Alison Stephenson. Being a female weighing more than 50kg, Alison deeply offended Kyle. So Kyle decided to hit back.

I think ACMA took the soft option, because they knew I’d taken the hard option and Kyle had thus already served his penance. Here’s the email I sent to Kyle (via Austereo) at the end of last year:

Dear Austereo,

I’m writing to Kyle Sandilands, care of you, to see whether he might do me the great honour of abusing me over the air.

I am not a journalist, am not overweight, do not have any titty (to speak of), have never listened to his programme or any of its derivatives and, to be honest, if I was asked to point him out in a line-up of half a dozen other bearded, corpulent forty-to-fifty-year-olds with twenty-to-thirty-year-old-people’s hairstyles and the faint hint of minor chromosomal abnormality about their face, I would struggle.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t know him if I fell over him in the street, as the saying goes – I think I could do that. (Of course, that’s not saying very much because if I did bump into him in the street he’d undoubtedly burst into that inimitable high-pitched, nasal, the-world-owes-me-something-and-it’s-not-a-small-debt-like-a-missed-credit-card-payment-or-a-car-loan-but-more-like-what-Greece-Ireland-Spain-and-Italy-owe-combined drone, interspersing profanity with un-ironical references to the idiom of Valley Girls and 1990s black America. Then I’d know it was him straight away, even if I had been vacillating before he opened his unfortunately-toothed mouth.) That is to say I’m not a fan.

But when I say I’m not a fan, I just mean that I’m not across his entire ouvre. The section that I am familiar with I find not entirely disagreeable. For instance, there’s something profoundly heart-warming – hot-water-bottle-on-a-very-cold-night warm – about seeing News Limited get a little bit of inane, nonsensically personal, gutlessly targeted, outrageously hypocritical drivel sent back in their own direction from a D-grade media outlet. It’s like standing behind perspex and watching one repulsive, unctuous creature (let’s say a massive leech) violently attack another member of an equally repugnant species (let’s say, cane toads) – there’s no downside; it’s just wonderful theatre.

In any case, I want to be called fat in three or four different ways despite the fact I’m at least thirty kilos lighter than my attacker; I want my dress sense torn to shreds by a man who wears a tie and jeans at the same time; I want my vocation belittled by a person who gets paid millions of dollars to just shout the first thing that comes into his talent-free head; I want to be implicated in a paranoid delusion; I want to be told I am a mere rabbit in the eyes of the Sandilands falcon.

I know you’re currently “assessing internal systems and process” (and by the way, can I just say I bloody love it when companies really take their corporate social responsibility seriously and go hard on those bastard internal processes), so it doesn’t have to be anything more time-consuming than scrawling it down at the bottom of an existing list:

  •         Employ Kyle Sandilands – RETAIN PROCESS / REVISE PROCESS
  •         Employ vacuous, craven ditz as Sandilands’ foil – RETAIN PROCESS / REVISE PROCESS
  •         Austero executives must exhibit psychopathic/sociopathic tendencies  – RETAIN POLICY / REVISE POLICY
  •         Serve full Devonshire Tea at morning meetings – RETAIN PROCESS / REVISE PROCESS
  •         Get Sandilands to abuse smart-alec nerd on air – ACCEPT PROCESS /DECLINE PROCESS

It would be like a value-added. I don’t know what that means, but you do, and you know it’s fucking great, going forward.

Just FYI (as the kiddies say these day), I sent a very similar request to Gasp Jeans a few months ago and never received a reply, so I’m kind of becoming desperate. I think my last email may have been too heavy on the sarcasm, which I know some people consider the lowest form of wit (we both know there are lower forms of wit, though, don’t we?). So I’ve taken a more straightforward tack with this version. Except for the bit where I called you D-grade – that’s preposterous; obviously you’ll never make it that high.

Anyway, even if, in an upcoming show, Mr Sandilands could simply deride the prolix nature of this email or reel my name off in a list of people he wants to bash, that would be beaut.

Also, if those blasted hippies and pinkos kick up a stink afterwards, I’d really appreciate it if his apology to me was more offensive than the original attack and was grammatically all over the shop.

I hope this email finds you well, (or, as Kyle would say “Fuck off and eat a fat one, sister, and you’re fat and I hate you and you’re a fatty and I question your choice of shoes, you piece of shit!” (LOL! The guy is brilliant.))

With the utmost fondness,

Jonathan Rivett

PS: What does the “tereo” in Austereo refer to?

No reply.

Haught fact of the day:

Ben Polis served as Kyle Sandilands’ apprentice for eight years before going it alone and forging his own career as a bigot.

VINTAGE HAUGHT: My email to Gasp Jeans

In September last year Gasp Jeans received an email from a customer disgusted with the service she’d received at their Chapel Street store. It was the perfect opportunity for Gasp to punch out some Marshallian brilliance and then tan themselves in the intense light of the public goodwill that would inevitably have followed.

That, of course, is difficult without some pretty special response-email talent in your customer service area, so an alternative might have been a sincere apology, an “any inconvenience caused” template reply, or to follow medium/large-business best practice and just ignore the email completely.

Instead, they flew to Fuckwitery, Texas, went into a gun shop called The Customer is Always Wrong, purchased a semi-automatic email response weapon and fifty kilos of ungrammatical ammo, returned to Australia and proceeded to do the online equivalent of “going postal“.

The exchange got the social media virus and soon just about everyone had it.

You can – in fact, you must – read (or relive) the full story here.

Here’s what I wrote to them a few days later:

Dear Gasp,

I’m just going to cut to the chase: can you please abuse me by reply email?

I’ll be brutally honest (I know you goddamn respect that): your clothing doesn’t really do it for me – diamante encrusted denim isn’t my thing. But by Christ I love your approach to customer service via the written word.

I find the style of your (recently much-publicised) email correspondence nothing short of mesmerizing. The gloriously specific examples, the beautifully restrained sprinkle of Latin, the extravagant defense of your staff… truly exhilarating stuff.

I want one of your emails  to call my own.

I want you to make brazen assumptions about me. I want you to be patronisingly didactic. I want you to make concessions about things that weren’t up for debate in the first place. I want you to bolster your case by citing “A-list” celebrities who I only know of because I once glanced at a New Idea while lining up at a supermarket check-out.

But most of all, I want you to throw grammatical convention to the wind, and use “whom” like it’s going out of fashion – pardon the pun.

I notice that your use of “whom” has received a great deal of attention post-“Good-luck-at-Supre”-gate, most of it grossly unfair. I mean, for goodness sake, we live in a postmodern age – some say a post-postmodern age; the rules of grammar have never been more fluid. In fact, I would go so far as to say they’re now gaseous. If you want to completely ignore irrelevancies like the difference between a subject and an object, and smash out a dozen “whom”s in five paragraphs, you should go ahead and bloody well do it. And be applauded for it. And perhaps be given the institutional equivalent of an Order of Australia for it.

Speaking of postmodernism, I particularly admire the way you’ve melded an almost aristocratic superiority with an unashamed embrace of the tawdry and vulgar. I know you love a really good metaphor – “dead flamingo”: superb – so I’ll put it this way: it’s like you’ve built an Ivory Tower, sprayed it with Clag and then blasted sequins onto it with some kind industrial strength leaf blower. And thank fuck for that, because goodness knows this world needs more sparkly elitism.

On the subject of “fuck”, my only criticism of your email correspondence (on the basis of exposed form, at least) is that if anything it’s too subtle. It doesn’t include enough profanity or, for that matter, explicit reference to the fact you hope the very worst for your erstwhile customer. In my humble opinion, the only thing missing from the email response to Keara O’Neil on 28 of September was “fuck off and die” – I mean it was clearly there as a subtext, but why leave it at that? So if, at some stage during your reply, you could call me a cunt or threaten my family, I’d be most grateful.

You are truly mighty iconoclasts and I look forward to your reply with the anticipation of a genuinely repentant sinner awaiting the drop of the (taffeta adorned) guillotine.

With more reverence than you could possibly imagine,

Jonathan Rivett

I did receive a response. It didn’t quite have the same edge to it as the one Keara O’Neil received, and was conspicuous for its absence of dead flamingoes:

Many thanks for emailing us with your enquiry.

It has been passed to the relevant department and rest assured that we will be in touch with you as soon as possible.

While you are awaiting our response, why not become a fan of our GASP Facebook page?

Kind Regards,
______________________________
GASP Online Customer Care
P: (03) 9421 6812 | F: (03) 9421 1720 | W:  www.gaspjeans.com.au

I didn’t become a fan of their Facebook page.

Haught fact of the day:

I posted a poll on my Facebook page asking what you wanted to see next for the blog. “My email to Kyle Sandilands” won easily. But what would a blog entitled ‘Haught’ be without a total disregard for the wishes of its fans and followers?

I might post the Kyle Sandilands email next week – and promise it will make a bit more sense when seen as a kind of ‘sequel’ to the email above.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“I never say half the fuck horsehit that Hoff blog fuck say I say.”

“Haught. It’s pronounced Haught.”

“Ah! I no fuck care what you pronounce it. I never fart on Enzo’s car. I piss, yes. Of course. We all piss -”

“We do. We all piss on his car.”

“But I no frangivento!”

“I know, mate. I know. It’s bullshit.”

“It fuck horseshit. I start my own blog.”

“What now?”

“Yes. Fuck now.”

“But what about the fuckin’ grapes?”

“Ah! Fuck the fuck grapes!”

___________________

Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.
___________________

THE RESPONSE: My email to Yarra Trams

You may have noticed by now that I believe sarcasm is the second highest form of wit (lavatory humour being the first). Today, however, I write without even the slightest hint of it.

You may remember a few weeks ago I posted an email I had sent to this mob:

If you didn’t catch it, you can read it here.

I write the emails I send to well-known people and organisations, imagining very different reception scenarios. In the case of the Jim Beam email, for instance, I imagined a chimpanzee being slightly surprised by the noise of the email chime, making a little noise of distress, then (inexpertly) pressing the delete button with his long index finger, just like he’d been taught to.

In the case of the email I once sent to Kyle Sandilands, I imagined Jackie O phonetically reading the email on a tablet computer out loud from the side of a pool in which Kyle was lolling, and giving up after the second paragraph (and the fifteenth time Kyle called her a “dumb, illiterate moll”).

In the case of the email I once sent to Margaret Court, I imagined Margaret herself hissing at the screen and then escaping into the night through the window in the form of a bat.

When I sent my email to Yarra Trams, I imagined an overworked 21 year-old on their ninety-eighth email of the day (at ten past nine in the morning) scanning my email, seeing the word ‘poo’ and bringing up the “excrement-fouled tram’ template.

I imagined wrong.

What I got was nothing short of genius. Not a template at all – a real letter written by a real person.  A talented person. A person I now want to meet and drink beer with and possibly give a little kiss to at the end of the evening (and I fully realise Sam may well be a man).

Why am I still speaking about it? It speaks for itself:

Dear Mr Rivett,

Thank you for what is, by far, the most entertainingly written feedback I have ever received. Your recount of events that occurred on the evening of 13 April 2012 was at once concerning and humorous.

While I have attempted to respond in a manner befitting the feedback we received, I do not wish to give you the impression that your observations and concerns have been disregarded or taken lightly.

When I read the first of the drunkard’s ramblings, I took his question to mean ‘Is it to be that we are engaged to be married?’ As I continued reading, I attempted to jam his square peg outbursts into my round hole understanding of his first question. I soon realised I couldn’t make any sense of it, but I feel better knowing that you were equally confused. Also, I agree that “screamed he” is perfectly acceptable under the circumstances.

Notwithstanding my concern for Mr Pelican’s disruptive behaviour, I would like to think Biff was bowling his baked goods from somewhere near the centre of a B-class tram towards either end – there is a hatch in the floor at each end just behind each of the driver’s cabins. While hitting the sides of the hatch would send the unsliced wholemeal delivery off towards point or square leg (or in real terms, and annoyingly for all parties concerned, getting lost between seats and the legs of other passengers), pitching the loaf on the front or rear edges of the hatch could certainly be regarded as landing it in a ‘good area’.

I also hope Biff Pelican’s name is not indicative of what he does in his spare time. But I digress.

Getting back to the crux of the matter, a call was indeed made by our driver to our Fleet Operations Centre (FOC), logged at approximately 6:35pm, alerting them to the behaviour being exhibited by Biff’s arch-nemesis. (Not “control room” or “HQ”, I’m afraid, but I hope this name still appeals to your Dick-Tracy-esque ideals). After attempting and failing to deter the drunkard with an announcement via the public address system, FOC contacted the police. Four times. After the fourth request to have police meet the tram, a Yarra Trams Response Unit (is that ‘Dick Tracy’ enough?) became available and was instructed to intercept the tram (ok, so Response Unit might not have hit the mark, but surely ‘intercept’ is a winner, no?). After our Response Unit arrived, our Fleet Operator received a call at 7:16pm from a Senior Sergeant of Fitzroy Police who advised that no other police were available to attend, and that as such, he was on his way himself. He arrived four minutes later at 7:20pm.

Please accept our apologies for what you and your wife experienced on our Route 86 tram. Just as your questions are based on the predication that the police could not have possibly taken so long to respond to our call for assistance (and the cause for delay must have been within Yarra Trams), our Fleet Operator also believed that police would be available to meet with the tram in a timely manner. Regrettably in this instance, there were no police officers available to attend to the tram until 7:20pm, which contributed to the negative experience of those customers onboard the first Route 86 tram.

I appreciate your good-natured approach to this incident, and I thank you again for taking the time to provide us with your wonderfully written feedback.

Spare a thought for the Yarra Trams Response Unit staff who drove the drunken man home.

Should you have any further queries or comments regarding this matter, please feel free to contact me directly via reply email, or by calling me on 9619 3311.

Kind regards,

Sam Marshall
Customer Relations Officer

I am tempted to call Sam as offered, but know I would get shy and giggly and have to hang up quickly.

I can’t believe Yarra Trams received an email that ended with “…if you could respond as entertainingly as I have complained, I would be most grateful” and didn’t put it in the “arrogant fuckwit” outbox AND had a crack at responding entertainingly AND consummately nailed it AND found a balance between humour and facts AND satisfied pretty much every one of my concerns.

Brilliant.

If Jim Beam want to know how to make something go viral they can put aside their  incomprehensible, cacophonous clusterfuck of an ad and take a leaf out of Yarra Trams’ book. Confound expectations, ignore corporate cliches, respond to cricket references with cricket references.

If you don’t recommend, refer, repost or retweet another of my posts ever in your life, do it to this one and give Yarra Trams the widespread adulation they deserve.

Haught fact of the day:

I once sent an email to Gasp Jeans’ Prahran store and within a few months it had closed down. Coincidence?

Yes.

Grape Men quote of the day:

“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…”

“It’s fuckin’ April, you stupid fuck!”

“…tooooys in every store…”

“Eh, you hear this fuck?

“…but the prettiest sight to see…”

“I think he has pretty good voice, actually.”

“… is the hobby that will be…”

“Hobby? You silly fuck. It’s holly. Holly.”

“…on your oooown front door.”

“Leave the man alone. He got voice of angel.”

“But he doesn’t even know the fuckin’ words. Why would there be a hobby on your front door? It’s not even… a thing. It’s a fuckin’ abstract fuckin’ noun. And it’s fuckin’ April. AND HE’S FUCKIN’ WEARING SLIPPERS!”

“You are grump. You are grump man.”

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Who are the Grape Men?

Find out here.
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My email to Jim Beam

Recently, you might have seen an ad for an alcoholic beverage company where young men and women shout noises at the top of their voices…

…and that’s it.

You know the one…

Recently, I’ve heard some disappointing discussions revolving around the ad and have often found myself the lone voice of reason, defending their subversiveness, wit and poignant underlying message, among a group of up to a dozen irrational halfwits.

This being the case, I decided to write a letter of support to Jim Beam. It went a little something like this:

Dear Mr Beam,

This is a short letter of support.

As a bourbon drinker, I sometimes use rocks to fashion rudimentary tools, but I don’t live under one and so I know what people are saying about your wonderful campaign. And it’s all utter crap.

Here are some of the repeated criticisms I’ve heard, followed by my rebuttals (which you are free to use, if you haven’t already):

1. These are the worst ads ever shown on Australian television – what nonsense. What about the Coles ad where Normie Rowe tries to sing a version of one of his old songs only minutes after having had a stroke? Or the ones where two prostitutes try to out-strumpet one another by doing Darth Vader impersonations and talking about tattoos in their respective underpantal regions?

2. These ads are just annoying – ever heard of all publicity is good publicity? Anyone who says these ads are annoying either has no idea what he’s talking about or is exactly right and doesn’t understand marketing. It doesn’t matter if the ads are annoying – as long as they’re getting people’s attention, they’re more brilliant than a peacock having sex with a bird of paradise in front of a bird of paradise (plant) on a beach on Daydream Island.

I remember once a dim boy in primary school by the name of Louis Carnegie picked up a condom that was lying in the quadrangle and put it on his nose. It attracted a great deal of attention. Oh yes, some teachers said it was “unhygienic” and “disgusting” and a “fool of a thing to do” and some classmates called him “Gooey Louis” and “Louis Franger-Snout” for the rest of his school days, but Louis got exactly what he wanted – I don’t know exactly what that was because he had a great deal of trouble communicating with others, but I know this for sure: if the internet had existed back then, his hilarious little misadventure would have ‘gone viral’ for sure.

3. These ads are incoherent; they dumbfound me – what’s not to get? A man makes a Tarzan noise in front of a cityscape and then another man opens the plantation shutters on the top level of his Victorian-era home and makes a noise like a monkey and then a man going up an escalator shrieks “Lalalalalalala” and then a woman waiting for a taxi in a busy place holds a high note and then an unseen man under a bridge howls at the moon and then the noises are repeated over and over again, faster and faster, and then a slogan from a 1970s political campaign comes up and then cans of Jim Beam positioned like bowling pins spontaneously explode and then start perspiring heavily before pulsating. I’ll ask again: what’s not to get?

4. These ads don’t make me want to drink Jim Beam – yes they do.

5. These ads treat viewers like idiots – viewers are idiots! Especially the ones who don’t like these ads! And anyway, who cares what viewers think? You’d think they were a crucial part of our economic fabric or something. Newsflash, idiots – simple economics tells us that there’s no place for consumers in a post-industrial society: large companies generate wealth by advertising their products using the media owned by other large companies. That wealth is then distributed wantonly – and thus perfectly – by the United States Federal Reserve, derivatives traders and Harvey Normal retail outlets. Where do consumers come in? THEY DON’T! SO SHUT UP!

6. I want to punch every person in the ad in the face and then step on their larynges – that’s just childish. I’m not going to descend to that level.

7. These ads are obnoxious – your bum is obnoxious and you’re a bum face and I hate you and your bum smells of poo.

8. It angers me that numerous people had to approve this before it went to air – I just told you how the system works. Only one person has to approve these kind of ads and that’s Ben Bernanke. Apart from the odd mistake (undead Normie Rowe) he makes excellent decisions.

9. These ads frighten children – I think Jim Beam will be the judge of what does and doesn’t scare children, thank you all the same.

10. There should be fewer of these ads on TV – if anything there should be more. Here are some ideas for ways of extending this brilliant campaign to eight or nine ads:

A man of about 25 is combing his hair in the bathroom. He suddenly fixes his own gaze in the mirror, opens his eyes very wide and makes this hilarious noise:

An attractive young buck is at a restaurant with some other attractive people. He puts down his knife and fork and makes this highly amusing noise to everyone in the vicinity:

A young bloke (with his collar up) is tending a rice paddy. He lifts his sedge hat and you notice his mouth is full of water. He makes this hysterically funny noise:

An insanely hot minx of a woman is in a deserted South Australian car park collecting cans to supplement her income. She decides to say over and over again the funniest word that comes into her head:

A fella is at a pub urinal next to two other blokes minding their own business and he starts to describe what he’s doing in a thought-provoking  monotone:

A strapping lad is on safari. He suddenly jumps off the truck, hurtles into the wilderness and begins making the same noise as the pack of okapis into which he’s ensconced himself (in a very witty manner):

A beautiful young lady is riding a zepelin. She randomly, and very humorously, shouts the names of characters from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series in the faces of other passengers.

I’m available to play any or all of these characters.

Anyway, there you have it: possibly the most sincere and heartfelt piece of correspondence you will ever receive.

With that I would like to say farewell and keep up the stupendously good work.

Your friend in fermented corn,

Jonathan Rivett

Yet to receive a response.