*No one* deserves that (except maybe you, asshole).

I don’t get angry very often, but occasionally something will happen in one of a few categories, and then my blood boils. Topics capable of sending me into a seething rage where I’m willing to set aside my fear of confrontation and get into an argument do not include such things as being right, not getting my way, being insulted, or getting bad service in a restaurant. They are generally limited to the following:

– Someone I care about being seriously wronged

– Bullying

– Racism and other bigotry

And the reason I’ve spent tonight stewing in a rage falls under the third heading.

Honest to God, I cannot for the life of me fathom how racism can seem OK to anyone. How, HOW can a person’s ethnicity make the slightest difference to their worth as a human being? How can the colour of their skin make them a bad person? How does this notion even enter someone’s head, let alone become a deeply-rooted belief? I genuinely have no understanding of this; I Just Do Not Get It.

Tonight, I unfriended someone on Facebook – a girl I’ve known since primary school, and with whom I’ve never had an argument. A nice girl. She didn’t make a racist comment, but one of her friends did, on a sympathetic status update she posted about the current disaster in Japan. The guy wrote like a halfwit, making more grammatical errors than you would imagine to be possible in a “sentence”. I can’t bring myself to quote his delightful sentiments, but the gist of it was that they [insert tired and pathetic slurs about the physical features of Asian people here] didn’t matter in the slightest and deserved whatever they got – that’s what you get for being Japanese, basically. Oh, and you look funny, too. (‘Cause, y’know, you look different from us.)

I am just waiting for the day that I hear a remark like this in person, because whoever says it will see a whole different side of me. As it was, all I could do was “like” a comment from someone pulling the guy up over his remark, and then unfriend the girl whose original status it was. True, she didn’t say anything wrong – in fact, she was expressing shock and sadness. But she didn’t delete the comment. Nor did she get rid of her friend. And several others noted what the bigot wrote, and said words to the effect of “ohhh you’re so badyou heartless pig lol xxx“, for CRYING OUT LOUD!! If someone has friends like that, and thinks that those sort of comments are perfectly acceptable, then I cannot call them a friend of mine – not even on Facebook.

There are some utter, utter bastards out there, seriously.

But here’s the twist. Shortly afterwards, having stayed behind late at work to prepare some materials for next week, I was sitting in a classroom mixing paints and cutting out shapes with Jennifer, who’d come in to help me. Have you heard about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan? I asked her as we worked. She shook her head, and I filled her in on what I’d just read on my news feed.

You know, Japan has always been very bad to Korea, she said, many attacks and cruelty.

Yes, I nodded, since I know this to be true from all my studies of Korean history. I looked expectantly at her, not sure what this had to do with what I’d just said, other than being another random piece of information about the same country. She looked back at me, seeming equally expectant, as if I was meant to infer something from her remark. Then just as it began to dawn on me from her expression that she meant something along the lines of “they deserve whatever they get, it’s punishment”, it began to dawn on her that I would be unlikely to take the same position on the matter, and she gave an embarrassed laugh and moved on quickly, asking me if there had been many deaths, where the epicenter was, and all the appropriate questions like that.

And I quickly moved on with her, only too happy to pretend that she hadn’t just implied what I was fairly certain she had.

Why am I still seething with rage at that imbecile I don’t even know, and disbelieving at my ex Facebook friend for letting him be a nasty, evil little worm on her page, when I was happy to just let my boss get away with a remark with implications just as nonsensical and racist? Because she’s my boss? Because she’s also Asian and therefore somehow entitled to be bigoted towards other Asians? Because I really like her, and don’t want to lose the respect I have for her, so am choosing to give her the benefit of the doubt and see her comment as a thoughtless joke rather than a genuine belief?

Ach, the inner conflict.

I think that sometimes there are just so many pillocks to be furious with, all I can do is find a way to get mad at myself, instead.

When is it OK to yell?

You know those Airline programmes, where they basically film everybody getting pissed off because their flights are delayed?

I used to watch those in a sort of amused horror, laughing and cringing as people attacked the poor airline workers in crazed frenzies. Since then, I’ve travelled through many airports and seen lots of tense conversations, but never the sort of ridiculous drama of those shows… until now.

And the scary thing? I can actually understand it now. I feel like it would take very little right now to snap the thread holding on my mask of calmness and quiet dignity, and turn me into a screaming, crying, shrieking lunatic trying to beat the crap out of a total stranger. I mean, I nearly shoved someone earlier just for walking in my path, and I was surprised by the urge I had to shake a woman who was moaning about the fact that she’d been stuck at the airport all night. I paid to go to London Heathrow on the 18th, she whined, glaring at the airline worker, and now it is the 19th. This is not good enough. Why am I sleeping on a cold floor and not being flown to London Heathrow RIGHT NOW?

Because London Heathrow is CLOSED, ma’am, said the harrassed airline worker. And this is the thing, you see, about complaining. I can understand it if it’s going to change something – but really, what can an overwhelmed representative really do about the fact that your destination won’t let you in on account of it being all covered in snow? You just have to accept it and wait patiently.

But that’s very difficult to do when you’ve been looking forward to being on the other end of that flight for so long, and it’s Christmas, and you want to see your family and cuddle your cat, so I have to confess I understand how the frustration can turn into rage at the only people who are there. You’re disappointed, you’re tired, you need a shower, you’re hungry and thirsty… oh, yes, when I finally got a food voucher (there is no ATM in the terminal) I joined the hundreds-strong queue at the only restaurant, only for them to run out of food when I was halfway along the line! Sigh. I ended up going very humbly to one of the Red Cross volunteers who have been providing sleeping bags and suchlike, and begging for a bottle of water.

While I have remained my usual patient, “oh, no problem, don’t worry about it” self on the outside, I’ve been gradually unravelling on the inside, to the point where a kind and helpful email from a friend earlier made me start to cry, sitting there surrounded by people. I hurriedly dried the tears and decided to search for a new way home instead – but had there been someone there for me to scream pointlessly at at that moment, I might well have done so!

On the plus side, many random conversations with strangers have been had in French. There’s that spirit of “everybody help each other out, we’re all in the same boat here, or at least wish we were in a boat”. As I type this, curled up by a power socket I found sneakily hiding beside a check-in machine, I have the iPhone of some guy plugged into my laptop to recharge it, and what’s more he trustingly has left me with it to go and get me some food. The only regrettable part of all this human interaction is that when the first girl approached me she spoke so fast that I got confused and said “please speak slowly” in Korean instead of French. Ah well.

Original flight abandoned. Had to get out of the crazy terminal filled with mad people. Dublin flight booked. So much for my paid-for vacation. Don’t care, as long as I get out of here soon!

What to do when your friend is kidnapped by a psychotic bus driver.

Jump in front of the bus! I yell, breaking into a run and then diving into the path of a moving bus.

It is shaping up to be a strange sort of day.

Our problems began when we filed off the bus only to discover that the driver was standing at the door collecting our tickets – as opposed to the more usual system of checking them before the journey. (In fact, we showed him our tickets out of habit when we got on, anyway, so he definitely knew we had paid.) Most of us still had our tickets to hand, but South African Friend Four has been unable to find hers, and has spent the past minute or so scrabbling around in her handbag and pockets with no success. The bus driver is not a very forgiving character. In fact, he may actually be a tiny bit insane, if his sudden explosion of total rage is anything to go by. While South African Friend Four returns despairingly to her seat to search for the elusive ticket, he stands at the door with steam pouring from his ears and nostrils, and then launches into an unprovoked and somewhat alarming attack on the rest of us.

We look at him in bemusement. All we are doing is standing near the bus waiting for our friend. We have all obediently given him our tickets and stepped off the bus. We are not doing anything wrong. And yet for some reason he appears to be as angry with us as the average person would get at, say, a stoned teenager breaking into their house and raiding the kitchen for snacks, leaving the place covered in crumbs and empty crisp packets. He is yelling at us in rapid Korean, and we have no idea what we have done.

Why are you shouting at us?! demands South African Friend Five, understandably indignant. Psycho Bus Driver continues his unfathomable rant, jabbing at us with an accusing finger. Don’t you push me! says Irish Friend One hotly. South African Friend Three and I back away nervously, being the two least confrontational, most peace-loving individuals present, but the other two, tempers roused, square up to Psycho Bus Driver, their anger rising to match his. Interested bystanders are staring. SAF3 and I are mortified, and cowering in the bus station doorway. The yelling continues as SAF4 reappears on the bus steps, still sans ticket, but she seems to have been forgotten about as the battle outside rages. I only turn to look when I hear Irish Friend One yelling Don’t dare touch her!, just in time to see him blocking Psycho Bus Driver’s raised hand from striking SAF5 on the face. Good grief.

It is at this point that the Psycho Bus Driver tries a new tactic, hops back on to the bus, pushes SAF5 in with him, closes the door, and drives off with her standing there next to him looking bewildered. The other two are pounding furiously on the doors as they close, yelling “Let her off the bus!”, and that’s the point at which SAF3 and I run back and fling ourselves in front of the vehicle.

There is never a dull moment, seriously.

[SAF4 was allowed off the bus when we thrust money at the driver to pay for the lost ticket – he took double what she’d already paid for it, and wanted even more, but we walked away from him into the station. Irish Friend One demanded that the police were called, and there was a whole big scene, and many angry voices, and interpreters on the phone for communication with the police officers… oh, dear Lord, what a morning. SAF3 and I hid in a corner and sang “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…” in subdued little voices, trying to block out all the madness. I don’t think we’ll ever find out why the driver was so crazily angry and aggressive towards us, but I for one will never, ever let go of my ticket before the end of a bus journey for as long as I live… ]