I don’t have children. But if I did – and lived on the affluent north shore in totally different economic circumstances – then my day might go something like this.
Scene: local north shore café. My Mercedes four-wheel drive is parked outside in a five-minute zone, where it has now been for 20 minutes. An exotic dog yaps excitedly at my expensive shoes. Tired-looking foreign nannies wait behind me in the queue. Indian mynas squawk outside, gently defecating on the bust of a famous mayor.
Tired female café worker: “Here’s your coffee.” Glances back at the very long list of supplied allergies, including but not limited to: “Glutens, shellfish, dairy and poor people.”
Me: “You’re a LIFESAVER.” Takes a sip. “No sugar?”
Me: “No milk?”
Me: “No coffee?”
Me: “Basically just hot water?”
Me: “You’re an angel.” Takes another sip. “I’ve been up since seven. Well, the nanny has been anyway. Then took the kids to school. Then spin class. Emmanuel is a SLAVE DRIVER.”
Takes picture out of wallet to show picture of two boys to worker. The blond-headed boys look like Nicole Kidman’s bullying alpha brats from Big Little Lies. “Look at those faces. Aren’t I blessed?”
Worker: “They look a bit like Joffrey from Game Of Thrones.”
Me: “I love Game Of Thrones! My friends say I’m such a Cersei! Do you have Foxtel, too?”
Worker: “No. Our housing estate can’t get it.”
Worker: “Your kids go to St Rich Man’s, don’t they?”
Worker: “Private, isn’t it?”
Me: “You can’t trust the public school system.” Pause. “Where do you children go?”
Worker: “St Povo’s Public School.”
Me: “Oh.” My eyes emit the combination of sensitivity/pity that only the parent of private school children can deliver.
Worker: “Wasn’t St Rich Man’s recently in the paper?”
Me: “That was SUCH a palaver. There was a debate at the P&C to change to school motto from ‘by your hard work shall ye prosper’.”
Worker: “And what happened?”
Me: “We voted to change it to ‘by your inheritance shall ye prosper’.”
Exotic dog yaps at my feet. “Quiet, Spartacus!”
Worker: “OMG! How cute!”
Me: “Isn’t he?” I hand him a treat from the glass bowl marked “dog treats”, leaving a $2 coin on the counter. Spartacus snaps it in half with small but powerful jaws. “Maybe Spartacus would like a little doggycino?”
Worker: “Sorry, we don’t do them anymore. Not since that investment banker tried to sue us because he said his dog was lactose intolerant.” Worker tries to pat the dog, which suddenly snaps at her, possibly because she doesn’t own any investment properties. “What sort of dog is it?”
Me: “A Hungarian Flesh Eater.” Hold small dog to face. “Where would I be without my little precious wubby-bubby?” The Hungarian Flesh Eater licks my face, then turns back to the worker and growls.
Worker: “Didn’t I read that a Hungarian Flesh Eater bit a kid in the face …”
Me: “That was TOTALLY that child’s fault. Totally!”
Worker: “But didn’t the dog jumped three fences to attack the child …”
Me: “Where were the parents of the child, I ask you? They’re the TRUE monsters.” Something dings in the background. “Saved by the bell!” I laugh nervously, almost guiltily.
Worker: “Here’s your banana bread.”
Me: “But it has no bread?”
Me: “So just a banana, then?”
Worker: “Yes.” She hands over the banana. As I look into her eyes, I catch a glimpse of her existential pain: her pain at being trapped in the lower echelons of the capitalist system, which keeps the poor down and rewards rent-seeking over effort.
A wave of self-realisation threatens to overwhelm me. I feel dizzier than I did in spin class. I grab the banana and flee, rushing past the foreign nannies. “Well, don’t work too hard!” I shout gaily.
I unlock the 4WD and toss a protesting Spartacus into the back seat.
I quickly start the ignition, leaving behind the unfulfilled dreams of the working class and the ranger about to give me a parking ticket.