Idiots with power
"Can't ya see I'm busy?"
Late last year, I was chatting to a mate who owns a local restaurant and this bloke in a too-open-necked shirt hailed him from across the road, then ambled over to chat, rubbing his chest like he'd just done a million push-ups.
He immediately struck me as overly-familiar, a little too pleased with himself, the sell-you-the-Harbour-Bridge-type.
He certainly wasn't the kind of person my friend would pal around with, so I just listened to him blabber about a new building development, then he wandered off to the next scene in the movie-in-his-head.
"Who was that dickhead?" I said to my mate.
"Local councillor. He just knocked back our outdoor seating," he said.
And then it became clear; an idiot with power, the type who walks across the street to rub your face in the fact he's the Big Dawg in the cut-throat world of suburban red tape.
I'm a big fan of the idiot with power; I love watching them in action and, if I can, try to make their life as confusing as they attempt to make mine.
Talkback radio's always a good place to start, so if I have any downtime, I enjoy phoning in to whatever rabid AM muppet is putting das boot into lesbian Afghan homeless people and give the vetting producer a line about how I live next door to one of 'em, eh?
You can go several ways from there and get fired up and tell them how you're buying a handgun and some Vaseline and the offending minority better lock their ... and the on-air host will hang up on you and apologise to his listeners about the "bad apple".
Or you can start to gush about how much you looove the on-air host and think about them when you have just a sheet covering you at night and ... they'll hang up on you and apologise to their listeners about the weird apple.
Bus drivers, of course.
There are few angrier groups of men than bus drivers, so I always find it edifying to be super-frickin'-nice to them, soooo interested in their lives and what they're doing after work that they shiver and ask me to go sit down.
Then there's pedestrians who walk slowly at crossings - hear me roar! - bouncers or all persuasions, real estate agents, neoliberal CEOs, pretentious bartenders and Todd McKenney - all extremely well-balanced - all with a chip on each shoulder.
I'd be remiss, however, when discussing this subject, if I didn't mention parking inspectors.
I received a parking ticket a few months ago and as the ranger scribbled away on his black box, I ran up to plead my case but pulled up short when I saw his expression.
The phrase "face like a slapped arse" sprang to mind, for he was sour-looking, snarling, as he ground his pointer onto the LCD display and, as his gaze met mine, there was just a flash of haughtiness.
He looked at me, braced for obscenities but I just took the ticket as it poured from his machine like an albino tongue and wished him a nice day.
This, I reasoned, was as good as it got for him all week.
Life does not disappoint when you have low expectations, so whenever I deal with the idiot with power, I assume they'll be surly, obstructive, petty, spiteful and uncompromising and usually come away quite pleased when they only tick three of the boxes.
Then I phone a talkback radio host.
Who's your favourite idiot with power?