Saturday, December 11, 2010

"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.


Nicole said...

Oh Kath - you make office work sound so painful! Well I guess it can be sometimes. I used to enjoy a lovely view from my window seat on the 5th floor of our building until we were instructed abruptly to move to the ground floor the next week. The ground floor is referred to as the dungeon as there are no windows to let in natural light. It is a sad place we now inhabit. To make matters worse - the lovely bright sunny 5th floor has remained vacant ever since (over a year) because of a plan that fell through. It makes me so sad...

Hannah said...

Oh, Kath. You have an amazing way with words, language, and emotion. The way you manage to intertwine humour with all-too-real painfulness makes me a bit embarrassed about my own silly posts, while also making me hope desperately that you're still working on your novel. Mrs Busy Boobs Clacky Beads... I reckon she should meet and marry my neighboug, Mr Stinky Never Washes.

Also, I really, really admire your ability to speak up. I wish I could do that more.

drb said...

Good on you to confront these rude people!!! ()()()
Did you note down the registration number of the car?

Plastic Mancunian said...

G'Day kath,

It amazes me whe we go on courses like this that people simply do not switch off their bloody phones and concentrate on the course.

One of our senior bosses is similar to this and has absolutely zero social skills and regards himself as the most important person on the planet.

I was interviewing somebody once with a colleague and he burst in and dragged off my colleague for fifteen minutes, disrupting the interview without apology. All I could say was "I'm really sorry," to the poor candidate who was already nervous and uncomfortable. I passed the time by chatting to him rather than grilling him in order to make him feel a bit better.

The same guy also walked out when he was interviewing somebody else, leaving the candidate sat there on his own; most people turn off their phones - not this guy - in his own mind he is "Too Important".

He's a bloody ARSE.

One day I will write a post about him ...




drb said...

I would have been killed at the same junction if not a guy stopped me from stepping off the pavement in the nick of time. A road train ploughed past us and the red light.

Baino said...

Haha I've not done a course for a while but there's always some dingbat knowitall that has to stand out. Very irritating and very brave of you to confront her.

Chestnut Mare said...

These people behave this way because they have low self esteem & poor social skills. They try to make themselves feel good by drawing attention to themselves. You known the type - if you've injured your knee, they've injured BOTH of theirs & suffered some kind of extrememly rare complication to boot! If you have a backlog of work, they have a MUCH bigger one & are 'so' busy!! Not to mention how many emails & phonecalls they have to answer...! OMG - the place would just fall apart if they weren't there.... I bet Mrs Busy Boobs also pretended frustration at her phone ringing, had a favourite song at maximum volume as her ringtone & spoke at the top of her voice while conducting her business. All designed to attract maximum attention....

River said...

I'm glad you told her off. Rudeness like that should not be tolerated. I'm wondering about her "remote" location? It only took her ten minutes to walk there...
Pity about not having any windows where you work, but I'm glad you're able to get outside at lunch at least.

Kath Lockett said...

Nicole, that's so awful and typical of the pointlessness of forced moves and fake deadlines. I was even envious of the brick wall that someone in our building gets to look at. The total absence of any natural light - or glimpse - is surprisingly harder to bear than you'd think.

Thanks Hannah. I think every workplace has a Busy Boobs Clacky Beads type - if I add 'dyed red/chestnut hair' and 'late fifties' I'm sure that the steretype is complete.

drb, I wish I had noted down the rego but then, what would I do with it? If I report the driver to the police and have no witnesses, what could they do? Next time though, next time......

Plasman, you must write a post about him - you must. Just describe him as Andy Arse or some such, add a mythical industry type and let us share your misery :)

drb - it has happened to me every single day. I now realise why I see so few people crossing there. They must cross much farther down the road which of course means that there are less pedestrians visible, which means that drivers don't even think for a second that any walker is around when they rush that right hand turn.... ~GULP~

So true, Chestnut Mare, so true. Mrs Busy Boobs' sister must work at your office!

River, I'll be able to eat outside any time I want now :)

Pandora Behr said...

Ah Kath, you're telling me about my possible future... I have a theory. If more polite people actually stood up to these dickheads life might be just that little more pleasant. If you do need your phone on, keep it on vibrate, and a quick, "Excuse me, I have to take this" AND THEN STEP OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM - frays fewer nerves. Proud of ya, mate.

franzy said...

Kath, I'm just about in tears of gratitude. "Mrs Busy Boobs Clacky Beads" just ... just ... IT'S TOO MUCH! IT'S TOO BEAUTIFUL!

Kath - THIS is the writing I was talking about. You've just captured the pure essence of what working in an office is like. This character really hits me where I live, it both sums up both kinds of people who work in unis: US and THEM.

WE are the down-trodden, under-utilised geenyusus, our talents and dreams shackled and clipped by the drudgery and simpletons who clasp at our ankles.

THEY are The League Of Morons. The Homer Simpsonses to our Frank Grimeses. The Oxygen Thieves, the Carbon Blobs, the Hordes who push us a little closer to our graves leaving us a little further from the goal of enlightenment and fulfilment by shrieking of their own existence like echoes from which no entropy exists.

Listen up, sister: eat a salad, breathe through your nose and, if you feel the need to say something, DON'T.

Rah rah, Kath. You are my hero.

WV: "hordi"!
The plural!

Anonymous said...

In my current consulting role I have to put up with somebody who sounds just like the description of Chestnut Mare. Thankfully I'm not there very often. Around the office this person makes everyone elses life a misery.

Jackie K said...

Oh, my pet hate is people running red lights, and these days people do it A LOT. It is so stupid and dangerous and WRONG. Good on you for speaking up, I would probably be too scared of the guy getting out of the car and battering me with a baseball bat these days.

Jim said...

You have a very intersting blog. :)
Sydney - City and Suburbs