1. The backhanded complimenter
Tim’s habit of leaving teabags all over the kitchen is very annoying. But because Dave kept complimenting Tim about his domesticity, he thought Dave found it endearing. ‘Who knew your room would be so tidy!’ Dave said with a smile. ‘You are so creative in the kitchen. I could smell that balti for days.’ Then one day Tim comes home to find three months’ worth of fetid teabags piled up in his room with a note saying ‘A gift from the teabag fairy’.
2. The fast walker in a crowd
Jane’s got a beef with all those people milling about like they’ve got nowhere to be. If only it were socially acceptable to punch them in the backs of their heads, then they’d know how annoying they were being. Someone steps on Jane’s foot. They apologise profusely, but that unspeakable rage bubbles up insider her. She grimaces, eyes wide, and forces an unhinged smile, then mouths ‘It’s okay.’ Of course she’s not going to show it – she’s British.
3. The refusenik bus driver
It’s raining and Sarah’s late. The 176 has just pulled away from the stop, but thanks to heavy traffic it’s halted again five feet away. Thank you, universe! But John the driver’s having none of it. As Sarah knocks on the glass – wind and rain ravaging her flimsy umbrella – pulling her best ‘please let me on the bus’ face, John almost looks at her. Almost. Then he turns away and stares dead ahead. She can bang on the glass all she likes, but this is one man’s passive revenge for years of grumpy commuters. The door will remain firmly closed.
4. The secret complainer
Alan’s arancini were cold. And the waiter didn’t bring tap water when he asked. But Alan never complains. Instead, he mutters angrily to his wife about how they’d have been better off going to Pizza Express. Before dessert arrives, he posts a review online about the ‘horrendous, unauthentic neighbourhood Italian’, with its ‘glutinous risotto balls and lazy staff’. When the waiter asks if everything was okay with his meal, he replies: ‘Fine, thank you, just fine.
5. The vengeful drink-spiller
Emma’s not having a good time. She’s been waiting at the bar for five whole minutes and as she looks down to check WhatsApp, some guy steals the barman’s attention. ‘Sorry, were you before me?’ he asks. ‘No, it’s okay, you go ahead,’ she says, hoping he won’t. He doesn’t speak passiveaggressive, he just orders his drinks. With every addition to his order – two raspberry daiquiris, four pisco sours and six Jägerbombs – Emma’s tuts get louder. Returning to her table, she spills half her £10 negroni down the guy’s back and pretends it was an accident. Good one, Em.
By Clare Vooght, who regularly practises her 'please let me on the bus' face in the mirror.
Illustrations: Nathan James Page