When is it Socially Acceptable to Hit Somone at Work?


Working in Armadale is a struggle.

While I have worked in affluent areas in the employ of ‘rich’ people for a decade or so, I have never struck the kind of treatment I
have received since I began work there. To put it simply, in Armadale, people think there is a class system at work in Australia
and they are at the top of it.

I, however, do not agree with them.

Many of my recent conversations have been focused, possibly by all the talk relating to public demonstrations, different newspapers’ styles of reportage and Qantas groundings, around notions of rich and poor, elite versus common and how they condition social structures and accordingly, social justice. These issues manifest both in the abstract corridors of power, far removed from the gym or the street corner, but find their parallels at a grass-roots level.

There have been a number of incidents in the last few months, but I will draw on the most recent. I was standing in the gym the other day, chatting to a few people when a man, probably about sixty, tried to push me out of his way. To begin with, I was flabbergasted; partly because of his rudeness, and partly because of his gall. I used to punch people for a living – and I look like it – so I don’t often find people willing to literally push me around.

To tell the truth, if a person operates on the basis of their own behaviour as a yardstick, I would never push anyone out of my way. One, I want people to like me and pushing them is as sure-fire a way to dissuade them as you’re going to find. The other thing is that you’re never quite sure how they’re going to react. Physical aggression breaks the social compact and is distressing not only for those involved, but for those witness to it. Lastly, the person you push may very well push you back or even strike you.

To make this is simple as possible, I will relate the incident by way of a script.



Two personal trainers, JARROD and PHINEAS, are standing in the middle of a quiet gym, idly conversing with two patrons. CRABBY, a man in his sixties, pushes JARROD out of his way in order that he can begin working out in the space which JARROD has been occupying.


You know, any time you want me to move, all you have to do is ask.


Don’t get smart.


I wouldn’t call that being smart; I’d call that being polite. My name is Jarrod; what’s yours?

JARROD extends his hand to CRABBY, in order to shake it.

CRABBY: Crabby.

CRABBY attempts to petulantly shake JARROD’S hand and turn his back, but JARROD holds on. He uses the handshake to draw
CRABBY toward him and in so doing, emphasises their difference in stature.


No, my name is Jarrod.

CRABBY is trying to pull away, but JARROD has him fast. CRABBY instinctively knows that JARROD is only exerting the
strength of his biceps.
 JARROD also knows this and uses it to impress the implication of his total strength. This is offset by the look in his eye, not unlike the impassivity of a crocodile or lion before it strikes.


I’m Crabby.


Pleased to meet you, Crabby.

JARROD sees that the implication of his gesture has registered. That done, he releases CRABBY’S hand and slowly turns his


This is a typical incident of its kind, but a low-key one. Thus far I have had a number of incidents which have resulted in tantrums by the people involved and malicious, fictional complaints being tendered to management. All these complaints have been debunked and discarded as fatuous, but still, if the gym membership is constituted by these kinds of cretins, then I would say the ice on which I skate is decidedly thin.

I engaged my girlfriend’s nasty neighbours in what I would describe as a ‘stern conversation’ over the way they had treated her the other week. It was wrong of me to intervene on her behalf, but it is very difficult to stand by and watch a nice, kind, gentle, fundamentally decent person abused and do nothing. Anyway. They had nothing to say, but after I had left, they called the police!

There was some brouhaha at the apartment building, but the police never called or contacted me. Evidently they had to get some old lady’s cat out of a tree or help some kid get his basketball out of the storm-water drain on Toorak Road.

I have other observations to make, but I will leave that for another post. As to my ongoing tenure at this place, I’ll keep you posted.

3 Responses to “When is it Socially Acceptable to Hit Somone at Work?”

  1. ilfiore66 Says:

    It’s not just men, women can also be extremely rude, patronising and carry with them the implication that no one dare challenge them. Residing in certain suburbs does not necessarily indicate that one has manners or courtesy, despite the expensive jewellry and gym attire.

  2. Sorry to hear that story. I once had the philosophy that if physically engaged then all bets were off and I had a duty to act, if only out of respect for the next target of the engager.

    Ive since changed this decision after a particulary nasty encounter went much too far. Taking a leaf from my wifes more mature philosophy i now repeat in my head “it would be a strange world indeed if you went through life without bumping into any maladjusted people”, not just strange but it would feel very fake. I wouldnt have even done the handshake just ignored / avoided it, in the scheme of things it means nothing and the next person who does act can deal with the police reports and legal system where thousands are tied up in limbo which is often worse than the event.

    If he was interfering in a professional situation which happened recently then i just go into super friendly mode and i would like to think observers characterise him as the ahole, but then i dont have the bulk you have.

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