Along with another member of our artistic collective, I had cause to visit the Civic offices last week on some creatively-related errands, where I enquired with the woman sitting in the office of the Chief Executive's secretary whether we might be permitted to leave our personal belongings with her while we scuttled up and down the thirteen storeys of the building.
Her reaction gave rise to the suspicion that instead of saying: "Hello, I'm sorry to bother you. I'm Kirsty and I'm dealing with the artwork throughout the building. Would you mind if we left our bag and jackets here while we collect some bits and pieces from the office floors"?, I'd actually said: "OI, YOU F*CKING MISERABLE OLD HARRIDAN, I'M GONNA DUMP MY SH*T HERE IN YOUR OFFICE WHILE I GO AND PLANT SEVERAL MASSIVE BOMBS IN THE COUNCIL CHAMBER, ALRIGHT"?
Cutting me off imperiously, before I'd even reached the end of the sentence, she fixed me with a withering glare and excitedly proclaimed: "Yes! Yes, I DO mind. This is the office of the Chief Executive, you can't just go leaving things laying around"!
Quite apart from the fact that I knew well enough WHO'S office it was, having met the Chief Executive on several occasions and found him to be a most affable gent, the glaringly obvious point of my question was that I DIDN'T want to simply "...go leaving things laying around...", hence the enquiry.
I'm never usually stuck for a snappy one-liner when confronted with officious bastards who think a low-level position of administrative responsibility thus confers some form of godly status upon their otherwise pointless existence. However, so shocked by her manner was I, that all I could say was "Umm", while backing out into the hallway.
My hippy cohort, loitering behind me, looking way more suspicious and full of anarchic intent in a civic environment than I could ever manage, pulled a "WTF"? face and sniggered.
I've no wish to dwell on the assumption that this woman is that rude to everyone she meets - surely she'd bear truly horrific and obvious scars of such blatant and unapologetic bad manners if she were. Similarly, I shan't stoop to childish suggestions that she's either frigid, recently been dumped, or been subjected to some awful example of bad manners herself (for the abused will always bite downwards).
It's just that common-or-garden rudeness is so terribly easy to fall back on when you're the type who finds it hard to derive a shred of pleasure or simple joy out of merely being alive. Y'know, the temptation to lord it over anyone with whom you come into contact must be overwhelming in that scenario.
Alternatively, you could consider, just for once, that not all strangers have to be savaged and barked at, just so you can stamp your menial authority onto a situation to make yourself feel better by being so bloody obtuse.
"Well," I mumbled, "I'm sure she could've been a bit ruder about it if she'd really tried", wishing my sluggish brain could've conjured up the best retort to rudeness in the history of the known universe.
Instead, we rebelliously hid our stuff behind the sofa in the Chief Executive's reception area, and slagged her off in the lift all the way up to the thirteenth floor.