I was cruisin’ the hard-bitten streets of Newcastle the other day, doing what many of us do around one 1pm in this gritty city –gettinglunch.
And as I did so, I was partaking in a time-honoured lunchbreak tradition observed shamelessly throughout the workingworld–that is, I was bitchingabout work.
Better out than in they say, although, if you listen to someone bitch about work long enough, you start to wonder.
Feelings matter, but apparently not the feelings of the person you vent to, because typically, it’s not the most objective conversation.
But that’s life, eh.
Anyhow, my levels offrustration were high and inadvertently I remarked to my walking companion that I was so frustrated with some aspect of my occupation that I could, and I hesitate toquote myself but will because what followed next is pretty funny,“kill someone”.
Now this sounds shocking, I know, but honestly, there was nointent in there at all. It was just a turn of phrase.
And how often do the screws down at Long Bay hear that?
Quite obviously someone needed a hug, but let’s not overplay the threat I represented.Compared to what came next.
Without missing a beat, a voice chimed in from over my left shoulder, and suggested in a friendly, can-do manner: “Two thousand bucks can sort that out.”
I’m not sure what shocked me most.
The fact that it could have been construed that humble, little meek old me was busking for a hit man.
The fact that the price was, even to my budget-conscious mind, startlingly gettable if you were that way inclined.
Or the fact that this guy seemed to know what he was talking about. A real facilitator.
We’d only been on our way to get lunch, for heaven’s sake.
I’d only been partaking in that time-honoured lunch-breaktradition of shamelessly bitching about work.
I might have mentioned murder, with metaphorical intent,but I certainly hadn’t meant to put it out for tender.
And now here was an individual oozing, now that I think of it,a fresh appreciation for the outside, suggesting there were ways to make a crust other than being a frustrated nine-to-five wage slave.
So I laughed at old mate, just a little bit concerned who the joke might be on, and emphasised that I had been joking.
Which probably wouldn’tread too well legally, off a transcript, if it cameto that, when juxtaposed with the notion that I wasalleging that Iwas honestly joking about killing someone.
To which he replied without skipping another beat: “Well, then you’re under arrest for soliciting homicide.”
Which generatedanother round of nervous chuckles, mainly from me, because I suddenly wasn’texactly sure ifhe wasn’t an undercover detective.
Because he seemed prettyeloquentin the ways of the law, in his thong, stubbies and t-shirt.
As if he might have a bit of firsthand experience with the double-edged sword, nay shiv, of the justice system.
So with those thoughts running through my mind,I did what any white collar pussy confronted with potentially the realities of life on the street would do in that time-honoured tradition – I peeled off in the opposite direction,at pace.
Then I looked at my lunchtime companion, who I’d previously been bitching to, and wondered, entrapment style,if hewas wired.
I certainly was, contemplating whether or not I was guilty of at least a thought crime.
The main one being the thought thatI thought I was supposed to be the good guy.
Part of the solution. Not the problem.
Which is probably another thing that probably wouldn’t read too well off a transcript.
Hello Michael Douglas from the movie Falling Down.
If any cadavers turned up at work after lunch my alibi would be shot to pieces.
Anyhow, we headed off to lunch and mused about the people that you meet when you’re walking down the street, particularly down the West End of Hunter Street these days,and how you should keep your voice down.
And I swear on my mother’s grave, which may not be the wisest choice of words under the circumstances (thankfully mum is still alive), that I was not organising to whack anyone.
Although someone else might have been.
Strangely enough,next day news broke that a man had been arrested in the same part of the town with a sawn-off shotgun under his tracksuit top.
And no, it hadn’t been me.
But you had to wonder whether or not it was old mate.