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459 Fitzgerald Street
North Perth, WA, 6006
Australia

Humans, People and Friends

Tahlia Palmer: Steady Eye

Humans, People and Friends

Andrew Ryan

I spent this Easter period working my ass off in the bar, pouring alcoholic beverages for humans who were excited to have a four day weekend. Other than trying to remember the drink orders and their prices, a lot of my thoughts during this period were spent on how I feel about humanity and the way we all interact. It’s come up in conversations a few times over the weekend, and I’ve come to realise that I make three distinctions in how I refer to other people, as a collective, in my speech, my writing and my thoughts. I figured that now is the time to attempt an explanation, for the ease of understanding my future writings when I talk about the fellow members of my species, and to let off some steam from my shit-fuck of a weekend.

The first, most general term is “humans”. When I speak of humans, I am referring to the masses that I have no way of relating to in that moment. Humans with nine to five jobs. Humans that keep different hours and have different habits. The ones that wake up before 9am to go about their business. Even the ones who wake up before 11am. The ones who are asleep before 10pm. The ones who wear shitty high heels to the supermarket. The ones who wear sneakers on the way home from their job in the city and carry their heeled shoes in a plastic bag. The ones who wear their cheap suits out on a Friday night after work and try to order jager-bombs and cocktails in a dive bar because they’re trying to slum it in a grimy area but have no idea what they’ve walked in to. The ones who live for the weekend, who work their jobs so they have heaps of money to get drunk when they clock off. The ones who scream at their children in shopping malls. The ones who nod off on the tram. The ones who eat souvlaki outside the souvlaki place in the afternoon when there is a much better café/restaurant a few doors down. The ones who forget that hospitality workers are people too (although I recognize just how hypocritical that statement is in this context). They have totally different lives to mine, are faceless and personality-less, and I always feel sorry for their children.

And then we have “people”. They have an understanding of other people and interact with others. I hear them talk about things I can kind of relate to, interesting things, thoughts that go beyond what they did on the weekend or what pisses them off about their workmates. I hear them discuss concepts and ideas and analyse themselves and their lives in a vaguely interesting manner. Sometimes I am interested enough to talk to these people, other times I am not, but the fact that they are willing to exchange thoughts makes me slightly more fond of them. They are not anonymous or faceless, but instead I am able to imagine their context, their background and their environment without being absolutely repulsed or absolutely indifferent to the way they have managed their lives up until this point.

The final distinction I make is “friends”. My version of “friend” is not necessarily the common understanding of the word. There is no bridge of acquaintanceship between people and friend. I apply friend to people who show that they care about the things I say, and at the same time interest me enough for me to want to know pretty much everything about them. We don’t have to be close- we could have just met, but if there is a solid rapport, then they are- to me- a friend, not just another person. Friend is someone you seek out in a crowd. Friends have exchanged tokens of trust, tokens of understanding, and have decided that they like each other’s company, regardless of whether or not they meant to see each other in a certain place. In bar terms, friends show respect by helping pick up glasses when they can see the bar is busy. Friends always offer the full price for their drinks even if they usually receive a discount. Friends ask you how your day was, and let you know if they’ve heard of any rooms available through their friends. I want to know what friends have been doing since I saw them last, want to do what I can to help them with any problems, want to know what their childhoods were like and what their romantic relationships are like. Friends smile warmly at my impassioned idealist rants that go no where about things that don’t really matter, and friends want to know why I’m so happy or why I’m so flat.

So there you go. I hope this explains it. I thought it might clarify some of my knotted thoughts about humanity but honestly, breaking it down into these divisions has done nothing but make me sentimental. Tom Waits crooning over the speakers in the bar isn’t helping that either, but you know what? I don’t care, because my friend wants to listen to it and I absolutely respect that choice, and now I’m going to go share a cigarette with another friend. I hope your friends are around and that humans don’t get you down too much.