Yesterday I was working in a bookstore cafe I frequently patronise. (And yes, I know how pretentious 'frequently patronise' sounds, but it makes me seem much more Professional and Important than 'hang out in a lot').
Now, this particular cafe is well known as a place where people come to work. Children are not encouraged (at least, not by me), voices are hushed, and at least two thirds of the customers are tapping away quietly on laptops, working on anything from university assignments to hard-hitting blogs such as these.
So when I sat next to an earnest-looking girl buried in some books, a pot of yoghurt beside her, looking bland and inoffensive (both she and the yoghurt), I felt that I was fairly safe.
I was wrong.
Five minutes after I sat, having just turned on my computer and settled into my scone... I mean seat... her mobile phone rang.
Now, I have nothing against mobile phones. I own one myself. But when I am on my phone in public, I speak in my 'inside' voice. Softly. I know that people don't want to hear my conversations about wild sex and partying (using 'wild sex and partying' in the sense of 'doctor's appointments and laundry').
Well, this young lady - she of the earnest curls and bland yoghurt - used her outside voice. LOUDLY.
And she went on and on.
I couldn't glean much from her conversation, despite her tenor and convinction. Apparently she was 'sooooo there' and he was 'soooo bad', but where was there and why so bad I had absolutely no idea. Nor did I care.
After listening to her ramble for five minutes I began to feel tetchy.
After ten minutes I began to wonder if her ears were burning with all that radiation.
After 20 minutes I hoped fervently her ears were burning.
After 30 mins I hoped her brain was on fire.
After 40 mins (I kid you not) I was fantasizing about setting her on fire myself.
I felt a profound, murderous rage towards this bland, curly girl. How DARE she encroach upon my personal audio space? I was about to turn around and confront her when, like a gift from beyond, she said goodbye and snapped the phone shut.
Praise the lord! I wanted to kiss her phone (before flinging into the nearest rubbish bin). Instead, I took a deep cleansing bite of scone - I mean breath - and returned to my work.
I lasted approprimately 45 seconds.
Because then the humming started.
Yes, yoghurt-breath steel-wool-head was HUMMING. To herself. Softly, but constantly, and tunelessly, like a demented person. She hummed as she read. She hummed as she took notes. She hummed as she turned the pages. Her tiny soft hums burned into my brain.
My legs started twitching. My eyelid started spasming. My fingers started aching with the need to grab my laptop and smack her over the head with it.
STOP FUCKING HUMMING!!!!!!!!!
I glanced around at her and glared. A truly vicious glare. And she smiled, a peaceful, beautific smile.
So it was clear. She genuinely was insane.
There was nothing else to do. I picked up my laptop, raised it above my shoulders, slammed it down on her head as hard as I could, and worked in peace for the next couple of hours with her slumped on the table beside me.
Except that I didn't. I picked up my laptop, packed it away in my bag, and went home bathed in anger and frustration.
And when she called out as I was leaving and told me to have a nice day, I grinned through gritted teeth and said 'Yeah, you too'.
That's just the kind of sweet gentle person I am.