SMOKE: Gotta Hate An Ingrate

Originally published: 5 May 2005

I watched the Nick Berg beheading last year. I downloaded and watched every agonising minute of that innocent guy's head being sawn off his body with a blunt knife as he screamed like a dying animal.

De-humanising experience. Very. I explained why I watched the whole thing at the time. I needed to know.

There have been a number of beheadings since then and numerous more kidnappings, including Douglas Wood, a 63-year old Australian engineer who has been captured by Sunni dissidents in Iraq.

A DVD was released last week which showed Wood on his knees and pleading for his life, begging the governments of Australia, the US and Britain to remove their troops from Iraq or he will be killed.

None of those governments are going to do that, which means pretty shortly we can expect the Internet video of his beheading.

I won't be watching it. One was enough.

Apparently insurgent groups are now offering Baghdad taxi drivers more than double their pay to deliver Australians to them (they get their meat fresh off the plane from Sydney), and this sort of thing is not going to go away.

Sick, perverted, stupid and blind are all words that spring to mind, but what struck me most was just how ungrateful those swines are that kidnapped Wood. The guy is in their country helping to rebuild the mess caused by America and that's the thanks he gets.

Sure - maybe he is one of those profit-hunting, greedy bastards simply looking to make a quick buck off the misery of Iraq and perhaps his intentions aren't all as noble and humanitarian as his family is making out.

But his company is certainly building infrastructure and helping the place back to its feet, which you would think some folks would be a mite grateful for.

I know this isn't the greatest example of ungrateful behaviour, since all of that doesn't enter into this situation at all. Those kidnappers have a political agenda and that's it. It's got nothing to do with humanitarian anything.

But when I read that story it just reminded me of how much I've been noticing ingrates recently. People incapable of being grateful. Scum who have lost their right to be called human.

I have a friend who is a paramedic - well, he's actually a one-man health crusade - and you won't believe the stories he has to tell. The guy has to go armed with a Glock to certain calls because he's had his life threatened numerous times - while busy helping some dying or badly injured person.

I've still never got over that from the first time he told me - it's too bizarre for words. There used to be an unspoken understanding that medical folks are untouchables. In the world wars nobody would touch a medic, because everyone on a battlefield knows just how important they are - to both sides.

But as we've moved on we're losing that noble sentiment, to the extent that medics actually get attacked in war zones and paramedics - of which South Africa has precious few - get threatened with knives and AK-47s when trying to help a wounded gangster.

Ingrates. Selfish fucking bastards.

Then you get the phenomenon of the families of accident victims suing the doctor who happened to be passing by on his way home from work and who stopped to help but was unable to save the life.

It's got to the point where many doctors won't even stop at the scene of an accident for fear of being sued - how sick is that? That a doctor should be forced to turn a blind eye to his or her Hippocratic oath?

I know these instances are more about greed than ungratefulness, but it's still highly ungrateful nonetheless.

Not all of us know medical folks - so let's bring it a little closer to home, for everyone to relate to: drivers.

I was brought up with a decent set of manners - a basic set of guidelines for being a reasonably sociable person - which included thanking people for something they've done for you. Not fawning over people and kissing their ass and thanking them a thousand times - one thank you is enough. Less than one, however, is not enough.

In traffic I am courteous - if there's a car parked in the road and somebody waits behind it while I pass I always give them a smile and a wave or other form of acknowledgement. Basic gratitude - thanks for stopping for me, man. That was cool of you.

But nobody ever does it for me. It used to be that there were just one or two impolite Pigs on the road, but now the disease has spread and seems to have affected most people.

No matter how many times I pull over to let someone past I never get even the faintest acknowledgement that I've done so - the driver going past just stares stoically forward, mouth set in grim determination and bitter unhappiness, knuckles white on the steering wheel.

Never do they thank me. Ingrates.

At an even more microscopic level - you have no idea how many emails Tashi and I receive from readers. Our contact form is close to breaking from the strain of people wanting to be on telly, people wanting information about things we know nothing about, people wanting all sorts of things.

We - particularly Tashi - answer every single one of them, except the ones that come in looking like this:

"We are interested in a threesome and want to discuss some specifics for when we visit. Can I open a dialog here? Wife and I may come in June or July."


"when does the series start back up ? do you know? Thanks"

Huh? What series? And it was sent from someone in the USA, so that's a lot of guessing to be doing about what show she could be referring to.

But otherwise we do what we can to get people the information they require, even if it means simply Googling for the info ourselves. We'll never just tell someone to type their search term into Google - we do it ourselves.

Working class heroes, us. I feel a tear coming on.

And guess what? We hardly ever get a mail of thanks back. Tashi will sometimes spend over an hour phoning and negotiating and liaising - sometimes a few days - to get someone information. She'll spend a lot of time wording her reply carefully and packaging it all up nicely. Considering how busy she is that's a pretty cool thing to do.

Nary a thanks. Nothing. Just a stone, cold, emotionless: "Fuck you - no thanks for the effort or the info. You Pig."

That's what the silence feels like, at any rate. Ingrates.

I don't expect an essay of fawning and butt-kissing back, but a simple: "Hey cool Tashi - thanks!" would make all the difference in the world. Took me less than three seconds to write that phrase.

Maybe nobody else has a problem with all this ingratitude, but it's driving me up the wall. People have become sodding bastards - self-serving, indecent, ungrateful losers.

Joke's on them, I guess. They'll always be unhappy.

All Smoked Out,
Luke Tagg
Spending time online does bad things to a person, but I'm OK.

Look at me now - all the way from Uitenhage to the bright lights of the big internet.

Find out more using the handy links provided.

Copyright © Luke Tagg. All rights reserved. A few lefts as well.

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