Mike’s English word of the week – Disposable

Photo caption: “Typing away ignoring all those around me, and someone caught me. With their smart phone.”

Mike’s English word for this week is ….


Assigning this meaning to something means one can discard, forget, give away, throw away, or even purposely destroy the entity in question.

Dealing with something disposable has many advantages. Disposable cutlery and plates allow you to save time and energy washing up. Driving a car that is disposable because it does not cost much can give a sense of motoring freedom that cars many times the value cannot. As a child I recall my grandmother washing dusters and drying them to use again with Mr Sheen polish.

Now we can buy disposable furniture wipes. Death to the duster. Mr Sheen is in retirement now. He aged gracefully just like my grandmother.

Dispose-ability breeds convenience and flexibility in the world we live in today. Two words that help to constitute the overall meaning of freedom.  But, and this is a significant but…have we gone too far with the notion of dispose-ability? Let me elaborate…

Decades ago, you are queuing up, lets say in the supermarket till line. Your pocket contains a set of keys. Keys to a car that does not have central locking nor any form of computer on board. Keys to a house with no internet connection. But it is perfectly modern because it has a land line telephone number and a traditional corded telephone. The type with a dial you must turn to input numbers. The cashiers till is not set up for contact-less payment. This technological master piece was still a twinkle in the eye of a budding IT guru, who perhaps was only two years old.

You catch they eye of the lady next to you in the line. She looks lovely. She laughs as you struggle to contain your tomatoes in the plastic bag you forgot to put a knot in. You begin to talk and laugh. You wait politely for her as she pays for her shopping.

‘Be great to see you some time? How about a drink?’ you ask.

‘That could be fun…sure, why not?’ she replies with a smile.

‘How about Friday? We can meet in the town, by the monument? 8pm good for you?’ you say decisively. Because you know no other way to live.

‘Alright, see you then’ your now ‘date’ replies.

You use the pen on the cashiers desk to scribble your home land-line number down for her on the back of your shopping receipt and hand it to her saying ‘in case you need to get in touch before then’.

You both leave. Both knowing Friday is on. Confirmed. A done deal. You can be reached if she needs to re-arrange. As a man you will make sure nothing gets in the way and you will be there on time. Because Friday offered hope. Perhaps the start of something that could be more in time. You were brave. You deserve it.

But something was missing from the above. Something that actually made the above a very possible scenario. That something was the mobile, all too smart phone. A phone that can run online dating sites, Tinder, Facebook and the like with notifications and constant instant access. A phone that would have been the main focus of most when standing in line at the till.

In fact, most likely she would not have seen the tomatoes fall from your bag as a Facebook notification would have kept her busy. Perhaps she would not even have been there because she may have ordered her groceries on the mobile app from the comfort of home. Perhaps you would not have been brave. It is easier to meet a girl online you may have decided. Perhaps she would have said ‘maybe, can I let you know?’


Because the constant access to new people online has given us all too much choice and the ability to see what comes along for us without going out and being brave. Almost when it suits us. She could have waited until Friday to see if a better invite came along. And yet due to that exact fact that we can wait and see, we ignore real things around us. In today’s world if you had asked her out for a drink you could easily become the ‘weirdo who asked her out at the till.’

But the guy who messages her on Tinder, while she is out with her friends, and his wife is in the toilet at a restaurant they were dining in together, well, Friday night is on for him.

Disposable is not always good. Especially when being brave in person became a disposable entity. A smart phone can run your whole life these days. Equally it can ruin spontaneous situations in your life. Note the difference is the addition of the letter ‘i’ in the word ‘run’ to make ‘ruin’.

Oh but wait…I typed this on my i-Phone…while sat in a coffee shop. The lady that just left looked nice. Did not even realize she was sat behind me. Never mind, let’s see whats happening on Tinder!

Mike will be back next week with another ‘word of the week’ story! Make sure you follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it! 

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