Once upon a time, anger would rise up in me until it reached this awful, awful point where I wanted to smash something. Actual smashing only happened a few times, a broken glass door at my parents place, an unbreakable (hah!) glass on the concrete path outside in the backyard and once, another unbreakable glass in the hallway of the cafe we owned. None of these smashing events were anything to be proud of and looking back, I have only the faintest sense of what it was that made me feel so wronged, so powerless, so consumed with rage. Other times, when the black dog was at its very blackest, thoughts ran through my head in which I heard the sound of glass smashing and felt my teeth breaking as I crashed the car into a pole. These two feelings, although different are not entirely unconnected. Both involved a terrible, awful, fearful feeling inside, that affected those around. The smashing was a cry for help that pushed people away. So why am I writing about this?
Well, there was an incident at work last Monday and it hasn't quite left me yet. It's not that I think about it all the time, but I'm still a little jumpy, a bit touchy. When I wrote about it in one of my paper diaries, on the tram (because I've been busy and that was the first quiet time I had that was not taken up with watching telly and knitting), I noticed that I was writing in small precise sentences, like a statement for the police, and that I was fighting back tears. Not that I didn't have a big cry after it happened. I did. Like others around me, I was all strong and quite useful while it happened but after the police had gone and things had settled, I retreated to the sick room for a big girly sob. And then I had to call mum and tell her and hear Grace's voice on the phone. Then I had to call G who was still in tasmania at the time. I wasn't the only one. There were a few red eyes and shaky hands about. There's something quite upsetting about having someone walk into your place of work with a brand new hammer and without even talking to anyone, calmly smash several touch screens, a computer, the video survelliance unit and a big wall mounted television. Which came crashing down. All the smashing was right at the front of the office which is a fair way from where I sit and no-one was hurt. I don't even think he ever any intention to hurt anyone but you don't know that when it's all happening. The first thing I knew about it was the sound of glass smashing, followed immediately by the sight of people running and shouting for the alarm. The ten minutes it took for the police to arrive seemed like avery long time. Especially with the alarm still running and a frightened customer whisked from the front area sitting at my desk. And not knowing what was going to happen next.
On Friday, I went to the market on my own for some time out and to buy some socks. As I was sitting on the tram writing in my little emergency diary (the one I carry just in case I have to write something), I thought I'd get to the second incident this week. Yep. The second. On Thursday, just as I was getting ready to watch some late night telly (season 5 of The Sopranos) and knit, I heard the screech of tires, the smashing of glass and the grind of metal and plastic, followed by angry shouts. Right outside our house. I went out to have a look, there was kicking (of cars and the ground) and shouting and swearing, steam and glass everywhere. A crowd was gathering and seeing whether there was anyone hurt which there wasn't. But I called 000 anyway, calm on one level, losing it on another, double checking that no-one was hurt. Again it seemed to take the police a long time to arrive. Actually, by the time the motorbike cop arrived, the young men whose cars had collided had already stopped yelling and were working together to move the cars off the road and the one who lives across the road was sweeping away the glass. Sort of.
Every thing at work was cleaned up very quickly, although the equipment is still broken. We were looked after well, extra staff arrived soon afterwards to help us out and allow plenty of time for a proper de-brief. But it makes you think twice about wanting to go to work. An extra reason to drag your feet a little, to stay under the doona for yet another five minutes. Especially when you're a simple public servant (although our bureacracy is complicated and kafkaesque at times). Sometimes though over the last week, I've thought about the man with the hammer and how he might have felt, having all that cold hard anger inside, why it might have built to that point. And then waking up and realising the aftermath. Will he feel regret, shame, be upset that he frightened people? Someone told me he'll be sent a bill. Apparently damaging commonwealth property doesn't come cheap. Even after it's all been swept away.