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by Peter McMillan

It started sometime in my late forties. Things just set me off. Things that didn't bother me before now do. They're threatening, because they seem directed at me. It's as if I'm being singled out to be insulted everywhere I turn.

When I'm driving, it's other drivers. They cut me off or refuse to let me in.. Their car horns scream at me, and the drivers make faces and gesture obscenely with their mouths wide open. When I'm a pedestrian, it's other pedestrians bumping into me, shoving me, shouting at me, tromping on my feet, or stepping on my heels. When I'm a client, the talking machines misdirect me and I wander into and out of dead ends until I finally fall through the administrative trap door. When I'm a customer, it's out of stock, not under warranty, or not available as advertised. When I'm a citizen, my email, telephone, and banking activities are under surveillance. When I'm at home, things just fall around me—a glass falls, bounces off the counter and crashes to the floor and among the glass shards is the medicine that I thought I had taken this morning.

This is all new for me—a change. I've changed, and while I sometimes wonder if the world—other people—is at fault, I feel like I can see myself becoming different. Occasionally now, I catch a glimpse of myself as if I were standing there beside myself, and I wonder how I became this stranger. It's common, so I've heard, that children fear growing up, fearing that they will become someone that they would find unpleasant, like a grown-up they know. I remember looking in the bathroom mirror when I was six-, seven-, or eight-years-old and imagining whether I would like the person I was going to become in 20 years. Looking back, I'm sure I would have frightened myself.

My reactions are becoming wildly disproportionate to what triggered them. I do see that. I yell at the dog next door and scream at the neighbourhood kids and shout at the old man on the bicycle and swear at the call centre representative and break dishes and throw books and newspapers and slam the phone down and rip the mail to pieces. A very small part of my mind is conscious of what I'm doing, but it's not enough—

Ok, Mr. Slightham. That’s our time for today. We’ll pick up here next week. Have a great day!