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ONE DAY, BUYING PETROL…

Does this happen to anyone else, or is it just me?

One of the last things I did before I left Sydney was to fill my motorcycle with petrol because I enjoy paying $1.97 for a litre.

I filled up at the Shell at Marsfield near the Epping Highway.

I stood at the pump for maybe three minutes or so while the creature who operates the buttons inside bestirred itself to turn on my pump.

I filled up my bike. I went inside. I put $20 on the counter to pay for $12 worth of fuel. Once again I had to wait at the counter while the creature did things in another part of the shop, before eventually arriving at the till.

“You must hand me the money,” the creature said, wobbling his head at me. “Show some respect to me. Put it in my hand.”

I was a touch nonplussed by this.

I stared at his proffered hand, bemused at his expectations of a) I was to put the money in his hand; and b) I was to show him respect.

I am not long bemused when I am under a deal of stress, and this was certainly the case at the time.

“Listen, Patrick,” I said calmly, my voice even and unraised. I had no idea if his name was Patrick, but to call him anything else might have been perceived as racist, and while I am many things, I am not a racist. So I said: “Listen, Patrick. When I have to stand at a petrol pump for far too long to pump in petrol that is stupidly overpriced, and then stand further in your shop while you do things other than serving customers, then you must understand you are in no position to make any demands of me.”

“Do not say anything else,” he said.

My tone did not change, despite the rising angst in Patrick’s voice.

“Give me the fucking change, you glistening piece of shit,” I smiled, because security cameras like smiling people. “Or I will assume you’re giving petrol away by not accepting my money.”

He stared at me.

“Do it now.” I smiled again.

I got my change and left. And I rode to my new home in Singleton where people are nice. Where they make no unseemly demands upon me. Where they greet you and exchange pleasantries.

Or maybe Patrick was having a bad day. Which may well have got much worse had my change not been given to me.

I don’t much care.

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Boris Mihailovic

Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.

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