Pushing unhappy people too far will cost

I was filling up the car at a petrol station when a youf of repellent appearance in the nastiest of rages came rushing toward me.

His car was next to mine and I thought he'd exit with the usual screech of tyres but, unfortunately, I'd made the mistake of making eye contact with him.

Through a thick rant of expletives I managed to ascertain that it was the chap behind the counter he had his beef with as he counted the many ways in which he was going to deal to him, adding the codicil that he (the counter guy) was lucky because the angry young man knew his boss.

To say he was off beam was an understatement and I affected a bland and sympathetic facial expression so as not to further rouse his agitations as I watched him open the boot of his car and extract a piece of rope, which he proceeded to wind through his grimy hands in a one-man lynch mob kind of a way.

It was just after nine in the morning and it was obvious I was staring at the face of methamphetamine, someone who hadn't slept in days and whose mental condition was now the epitome of impatience. Fortunately, he was all mouth and filthy trousers and after about 10 minutes of frothing at the cake hole he suddenly jumped into his car and finally screeched off as I hurried inside to see what condition the counter guy was in.

'Oh, him - he's nothing.

"You should have been here a couple of hours ago,' counter guy said. Apparently a well-dressed customer had come in wanting to hire a trailer and when told the fee was $45 offered the counter guy $35. The offer was declined but was put again and again as the counter guy stood his ground and watched the trailer guy start grabbing stuff off the shelves, aggressively throwing it round the shop.

'I've only just stopped shaking," the counter guy said.

Rather you than me, I told him; wondering who'd be game enough to work in a service station these days.

A few days later I was out on the bike remarking to myself how fond I had become of the willowy cranes, even the bulldozers and that with the approach of Christmas and New Year, in an acknowledgement of the skill of demolition machinery drivers, perhaps a dance of the machines in the manner of synchronised swimmers could be choreographed.

Plenty of cleared land in the central city to stage it in, I was thinking when I heard the skirl of the pipes and biking towards it found a service taking place near the fire station in Kilmore St for 9/11. I have always hated the rusted twist of beams from the World Trade Centre that blemishes the bridge corner of Madras and Kilmore streets, seeing the ugly remnants of an American tragedy as an irrelevant imposition on our landscape.

Feeling a surge of rage, that in the midst of our own sad September commemorations time had been set aside to lapse into sentimentality, for this foreign memorial, this xenophobe rode off muttering something along that theme, only to have the penny drop later in the day about the deeper significance of the service for our local firefighters who have given so much and were awarded so little for their heroic efforts after the February 2011 quake.

Maybe it's the commemoration of quakes but, like the angry customer in the service station, of late I seem to have developed a capacity to find petty annoyances in everything.

But then there is plenty to be cross about with Education Minister Hekia Parata causing such bitter disappointment at the merging and closure of Canterbury schools.

How much more can the community, which has experienced nothing but kicks, take as the sudden rug-pulling changes to educational institutions cause utter confusion and a further loss of identity.

It doesn't help that Parata chooses to make her savage announcements dressed in loud test-pattern jackets that make the whole thing seem like a bad-taste joke as those watching desperately hope normal transmission will be resumed as soon as possible.

The adult community has been stoic but when their children are under attack, watch out.

The Press