"Whaddaya want me to do, lady?"
After five weeks, I'd finally lost it. Walking across Flemington Road in peak hour traffic means that the lights force me to stop smack-bang in the middle of one of the busiest thoroughfares in Melbourne, standing uncertainly on the tram tracks and hoping that the light pole might offer some protection from the cars roaring past turning right.
Every day at least five cars run the now-red right turn light, making my heart pound faster as I realise just how easy it would be to stay in the mindless walk-home groove and step out automatically at the pip-pip-pipping sound of the green man.
Today, I'd had enough. Today, the last culprit - and surely the one most conscious of breaking the law - had pulled up for petrol at the station on the other side of the road. His wife had gone in to pay and I knocked - yes knocked - on his window.
"Do you realise that you nearly killed me back there, when you ran that red light?"
"Sorry lady. There was a car behind me and nowhere to go."
"No there wasn't. You were NOT across the intersection but had decided to just barrel on ahead and did not see that people were crossing."
"Whadday want me to do, lady? I said I was sorry."
It was then that I saw the three kids sitting in the back seat which made me turn on my heel and walk off. "Yeah, fuck off," he spat and I briefly entertained visions of walking right back and using my umbrella to smash that big fat face of his until he begged for mercy.....
But of course I didn't. I had an in-house computer finance course to get to. Stuffy computer room with ten desks and two petite instructors, both nervous and speaking way too fast. One chair was empty.
Ten minutes into the course Mrs Busy Boobs Clacky Beads arrived, huffing and puffing and late, telling the rest of us how busy she was, how she'd have to have her mobile phone on all the time because her staff needed her and no, being from a remote location meant that she hadn't done the online prerequisite course.
Just my luck that Busy Boobs plonked herself in the seat opposite me. She answered several calls as the instructor was teaching, leaving in a huff when the assistant trainer asked her to take the calls outside. At morning tea, hoping to get her to climb off her high horse, one of them broke the silence by asking her where she was from: Shepparton campus perhaps? "No, Lincoln Square. It took me ten minutes to walk here."
Ah. We all busied ourselves checking our own mobile phones, willing the time away until the lesson resumed. The miserable packet of Arnotts Milk coffee biscuits were untouched.
Back in class, as I was struggling to understand how thirty four steps would produce an invoice and raised my hand to ask the teacher a question Busy Boobs sighed. Loudly. Her betty-rubble beads clacked on the desk as she tapped her pen irritably against them.
Busy Boobs sighed again when the instructor answered another classmate's question. She then muttered, 'oh please no' when the teacher said, "Shall I go through that step again?" as the rest of us nodded. I'd seen this sort of passive-aggressive crap before - mutter it loud enough for me to hear, but not the teacher. Shades of Sapphire's recent experiences at school filled me with red. I snapped. "Will you please be quiet. I need to know this for my job. You are being very rude."
She shut up immediately but I derived little comfort from a classmate saying 'I wanted to give you a high five' as we escaped the room two hours later.
12:30. The course officially ended at 1:00pm, so I decided to eat my lunch in the park opposite my work building.
This was a nice opportunity to soak in the sunshine and breathe in the air for my room inside has no windows or even a view towards outside. It is dark and strobe-lit and I can feel my body wilting without a glimpse of outside or natural light.
Up at the very top of the building a pigeon tried vainly to smash its way inside. Again and again it tried, convinced that the glass reflection of a blue sky and clouds was the real thing. The cries and the smacking sound was painfully audible from where I sat on some cement steps under a tree, slowly chewing my bread roll.
12:59. I bunched my gladwrap into a tight little ball in my hand and slowly walked inside the building. Unlike the pigeon, I'm allowed - required - to go inside.