sounds of smashing glass

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.


  1. Oh Janet! How terrifying. Take care of yourself.

  2. Scary. Stuff like that makes me feel sick in my stomach.

  3. I can see why you are so unsettled by this week's events. I'd be rattled too.
    The theme of breaking glass gives you flashbacks and hits buttons for you.
    Good things, emergency diaries. Well handled, Janet. Deep breath. Big hug.

  4. Geez, Janet I would have been petrified. To be in the path of someone's anger is actually very frightening, but even more so when its the sort of planned anger that sees someone arm themselves with weapons before they explode. Glad no person was hurt, only equipment.

  5. What a week.
    Sounds like you could do with some nurturing. I'd be looking for a few days off, a massage and lots of cups of tea with loved ones.

  6. You see how far you've come in your recovery when you write about these things. Keep taking the steps. Yours truly-Elaine from Virginia USA

  7. Phew! Makes teenage meltdowns at my work seem like nothing. (Keep working at your desk in the back.... seems like a safe place!)

  8. That's huge - having two very unerrving things happens right near you in one week - you sound pretty calm and collected considering. It's scary to be reminded that life's so unpredicatable. (I do love how you've wrriten about it all, the perfect descriptions and the photos you used to illustrate the post.)
    p.s. Sorry about the image of a whole deer in my kitchen - it was just the meat. Probably shouldn't have blogged about it.
    Also, if you'd still like a print or two please email me with which ones you'd like because I just figured out how to use my printer properly!

  9. Hey Janet, how kind of you to end your week by thinking what it might be like in his shoes. Not everyone does that ! Good for you xo

  10. God, that's terrifying. Take care. I know what it's like to get that angry and have those fantasies of destruction that you describe, though I would (I hope) never act on them. It's interesting that you reflect on that, and then the reality of someone actually acting out those fantasies, and the effect on the people who have to deal with it.
    PS. I have a tram diary too.

  11. I think he will feel regret, but also more anger, at the bill, and the fact it didn't work, and that he doesn't feel any better as a result, only worse. And now people are looking at him differently.

  12. I remember one time, when I was a kid (maybe 10 at the most) I had a fight with my mother - another one. Probably she told me off for something I didn't do, that always got my blood boiling. I ran into my room in a tearful rage, pacing the room, the usual tantrum.
    I went to the mirror and was giving myself a talking to and then suddenly, like I didn't even know I was doing it, I lifted it away from the wall and PUSHED it back against it. Not that hard, but hard enough to crack it all the way along the bottom.
    I told my parents that I had bumped it. The mirror was taped up and hung in my room until I moved out. I still remember the rush of similtanious satisfaction and horror as it cracked. And the noise.
    Such a vivid memory.
    I hope you feel better. I hope that man does, too.