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  • Writer's picturecatherine@allaboutwriters

The high road

Friday afternoon of a long weekend, I knew the petrol station heading out of town would be busy. I pulled in slowly, looking for a space with the bowser on the left - no joy there - so stopped to wait our turn. Within a couple of seconds, a little zippy blue 2-door with a P-plate stuck on back weaved in front of us and stopped. Right in line before us. I popped the horn, a couple of little bips, just letting them know I was in line. No response. Bip bippety-bip! Still nothing.

"Hey, that car just pushed in", says my son from the back.

"Beep your horn again, Mum", says my daughter.

"No", I explain, "I'll just let them know what they've done when they get out, don't worry about it."

By this time, I've got my window down and have an arm extended to get their attention. As they pull up to the bowser in their car, they pause, speak to each other briefly, and the passenger gets out.

"Excuse me! I was waiting at this pump already", I say in my best annoyed-but-polite voice. I'm expecting an apology, a look of surprise, but pretty quickly realise that's not going to happen. My heart begins to pound. I don't enjoy confrontation.

"You weren't in line", she says, "you can't line up in two lines and hold both spaces", she says, not looking at me at all.

Unbelievable. Now it's my fault, according to this rule-breaking, anti-social little so and so. My mind freezes temporarily, processing her response. I'm very aware my three kids are in the car, not that I'm one for street fights any time. But boy, now my blood is boiling.

"Clearly I was in the line for the pump on the left side, 'cause that's the side I need", I call to her, still leaning out the window, and getting a shake of her head in reply. "You know...the rest of us live in a civilised society. I'm a kindergarten teacher, and even the five year olds in my class could teach you something about that."

She doesn't look up, but finishes filling her car, looking to the driver who sits in the car, still blocking the pump while she goes inside to pay. I have an almost overwhelming urge to run my much bigger car right up the back end of that piece of...metal, just move it out of the way. I fantasise for a moment about running the edge of my key along the shiny, blue paint. I could jump out and block them from leaving until I have dissolved them both into tears with my rational and cutting examination of the situation, as they realise the scourge they are upon this world.

Or, I could repeat to my children that it's not worth it to give them another thought, they're miserable people who never learned how to behave. We'll get to where we are going and we can sleep well at night. I continued to fume as I imagined them retelling the story to friends who would pat them on the back or laugh appreciatively at their audacious act. Nobody would be there to tell them they were just plain rude.

I had calmed somewhat by the time we approached them from behind on the highway, some 100km from the petrol station. As I indicated and pulled alongside them, I kept my eyes on the road, maintained my steady speed, and looked down on them from the high road.

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