A few days before Christmas, I was fussling and pootling around the house, pensioner-speak for being busy all day but doing nothing, when in the mid-afternoon I heard the sound of an angry male voice in our quiet street.
We live on a hill but in a small sound shell of houses. The odd dissenting voices between partners or some advice from parents is usually shared with polite but uninterested neighbours. Our neighbourhood is usually very quiet, the silence broken only by bird-song, the sound of young children happily playing and the odd car passing.
On this occasion, the angry person was loud and insistent enough for me to poke my nose over the front fence to see what the story was. A young man in his mid-20s marching up the street with a bottle of beer in his hand telling the world or anyone who could be bothered listening that we were all self-satisfied rich so-and-sos in unflattering terms.
My first thought was one of admiration at the strength of his stride uphill and his ability to not only breathe but harangue at the top of his voice and sip his beverage at the same time. The hill is not steep but is challenging for those of older years.
My second thought was that I may engage him for a bit of a chat but then common sense took over. I was a prime example of what he was very upset about, a resident in our street. It may not go well and I am a bit past my best in that area.
I watched this young man, very well-dressed and turned out, walk on past our house until a woman came out of a house further up the street and called him over. He disappeared into her house, obviously a family member or friend, and all was quiet again in our sleepy hollow.
What caused me to think more about this little incident was the sheer anger in the young man's tone and his vehement resentment about what he perceived as wealth surrounding him. I do not know him or his personal circumstances but he may not be doing well in society, hence his tirade.
Our neighbourhood is not the poshest in town by any stretch of the imagination.
It is a nice place to live and seems to have a community of hardworking and achieving people of all backgrounds, hues and beliefs.
There are probably more tertiary and trade-qualified people per hectare in our suburb than in most, pointing to individuals who are goal-orientated, persistent and therefore successful.
Outwardly, I guess, it does look like we are wealthy. All the homes have a car, many two, three or more.
The houses are well-kept but modest in the scheme of things. We need our cars as we do not have any public transport. We also have no schools or shops in our suburb. It is more than 1.8km to the nearest store or bus stop in a thriving provincial city. The nearest school, which is private, is nearly 3km away and the closest state school is nearly 4km away.
Modern reliable cars are a necessity in our neighbourhood, especially for people with young families as the access roads into the suburb from our town centre are not accompanied by footpaths, being old country lanes that are yet to be up-graded but now handling 21st-century traffic. They are not safe for young children to use despite residents driving carefully on them.
The suburb is not new, with houses dating back to the 1920s. Most development has happened since the 1970s but the infrastructure is still, in parts, very much back in the 50s.
Getting back to our young man. Yes, he was under the weather and very angry perhaps because he was surrounded by triggers that upset him. He clearly resents selected others which is sad in itself. Will he ever be able to turn that resentment and anger into a motivation to change his life and hopefully his opinion about normal, hardworking good people?
He has no idea of the backstories of the people he was angrily condemning. Most in our suburb worked their way up to it. If they were 'rich', they would not be living here. Our suburb is a stepping stone for some who do want to climb the property ladder but it is also the home to many who have raised their families here and now live here because it is simply a nice place to live.
Clever people tell me that New Zealand is now more class-ridden than ever.
It seems that house ownership is now the measure of whether one has succeeded in life, a goal sadly becoming unattainable for many deserving people.