My beloved Sydney City frustrated me today. I never tire of the daily trip across the matt black harbour bridge, how the chinks of sunlight often burst through the train windows and bounce off the harbour waters. Or the muffled foghorns sounding on cruise ships and ferries. All communicating with each other as another bustling day on the harbour foreshore begins.

But today was different, today I was irritable. It began when an imbecile wearing ridiculously large, gold shiny headphones thought it was perfectly ok to stop right at the bottom of the train station stairs at peak morning rush hour. It caused a people pile up. What the hell was he doing? Dropped a ticket? Lost his wallet? No. He was hitting refresh on his smartphone as he lost wifi signal for the 4minutes we were in the tunnel. How the hell did we all survive before being wired in to our new 3G leaders?

I got into work and shook it off. But then instead of cutting myself off from the city for the day I ventured to the mall at lunchtime to purchase some birthday gifts. What is the deal with a certain chain of stores up-selling you in a hardcore guilt trip battle of wills when all you want to is pay for a few gifts?

‘Would you like to help save a life by buying a bottle of water?’ Was the cracking opener at the check out.

‘No thank you.’ I reply.

I’m greeted with a long pause and then in a slightly higher pitched tone ‘Well, would you like to help a charity by buying a tote bag?’. Now, I’m not adverse to donating to charity but I am annoyed when I’m asked to just donate to a non-discript charity and made to feel guilty if I choose to decline.

‘No, just the purchases I have thank you.’ Responding low, slow and clear but my body language is clearly showing fidgety frustration.

‘OK.’ she retorts and I scan 100% on the sarcasm meter. I don’t care as long as she just totals up my purchases.

‘Oh’ she says ‘Just before I ring these in, would you be interested in buying a set of headphones for just $10?’. As my blood begins to simmer nicely and my rage begins to build I glance at the headphones. The were exactly the same as the imbecile at the bottom of the train steps was wearing earlier that morning.

‘No. Thank you.’ I grimaced, and finally my ordeal was over. As I walked out I actually felt bad for the guy I had cursed at the bottom of the stairs. The poor man had been through the same torturous customer service ordeal and lost. I felt a little sorry for him.

Moral of the story. Don’t judge an idiot by the size of his headphones.