Fri 05 September 2014

Be careful: Not everyone is good

Posted by ankur in Life (1810 words, approximately a 8 minute read)

I've never written any thing personal on my blog. I reserve events concerning my personal life for my friends, my family, my journal. However, I post this event here to warn my friends in the Fedora community. Most of you are like me - we want to be good people, not just in our professional lives, but also in our personal lives. We want to be the best we can be. We don't resort to violence, but at the same time we don't get pushed around. This ordeal that I just experienced will tell you that you need to be careful, even when you're trying to be a helpful person. Sometimes it can get you into a dangerous corner, one that could've been avoided if you were more sceptic like I generally am.

The event report

My sister and I had gone to Coles to get supplies for a normal weekend - beer, food, the usual. On our way back,we got into the first gate of the apartment complex using using the apartment key card. At this time, there was this Aussie gentleman speaking to his cabby right outside the gate. It’s about a hundred steps to the apartment door where you need to swipe your key card again to get in to the main building. Before we’d gotten in, this gentleman asked us to hold the first gate for him. This isn’t uncommon. If there are a couple of people coming in, we hold the gate for each other - we’re attempting to be good people here, to be polite, social and helpful.

When we reached the second gate to the lower level where the lifts are, this gentleman entered with us. When we finally got to the lift, we asked him what floor he wanted to go to. This is also quite common. He wanted to go to another floor - a floor that we don’t live on, and we politely informed him that we didn’t have access to his floor - our key cards only take the lift to our particular floors. By this time, we’d noticed that he was quite drunk, the trousers of the suit he was in were torn at the crotch, he couldn’t walk properly. My sister, still trying to be a good, nice, polite, helpful person, took him out to the buzzer and helped him call the apartment we thought he was living in. No one answered. This is when he informed us that it was in fact his friends flat, and that his friend was to leave him the key in the letter box. We told him we couldn’t do much more, and it is when we tried to walk away, that things got bad. He stepped between us and the door. He asked us if he could pay to sleep at our place. Now, you can be as helpful a person as you want, but letting a complete stranger that is drunk out of his wits sleep in your house is not something you’d do. If you would, kudos, you’re..awesome? I don’t know. I can’t find a term that fits you well enough. Anyway, we politely refused. My sister even said that there was a kid at home to try and get him away.

Now, this is when it gets really bad. He got aggressive. He kept saying “Why? Why not?”, and we kept saying, “Sorry, we can’t. We just don’t take people we don’t know into our home.” We then offered to get him to a hotel and get him a cab to one. At this suggestion, he bellowed “Will you f**king pay for the cab?”. Keeping my cool, I said that I’d be happy to. I’d already understood that this “gentleman” wasn’t the best person I’d met, and that somehow diffusing the situation and getting him out of the compound would be the best result. Of course, he didn’t share this view. He first abused us - he called us “cunts”, yes, “cunts”. Then he went on to say “You f**king c**ts! You come here and eat up all the taxes that we pay, and you can’t give me a place to f**king sleep at night?”. Yeah right. All the tax we pay is just crap, right? He pushed me against the wall, he kept abusing us, racial slurs, frequent usage of the term “c**ts” and its synonyms, “I’ll f*king bash your face in, you c**t.” and the sort. I was angry - I'm not violent, and I don't resort to physical force until absolutely necessary, but I knew I couldn’t react - it would just make matters worse. If I haven’t mentioned already, this guy was huge. He was 6'3'' or more, well built. Even when my brother in law came down, the two of us couldn’t have taken his person physically. He kept abusing us for about 10 minutes. I'll let you imagine what a drunk person fond of the word "c**t" is capable of.

Once my brother in law had come down, the two of us somehow managed to calm him down and get him to agree going to a hotel. I’d called a cab already. The operator warned me that the cabby may not drive this drunk person, but I requested her to send one any way. We’d sent my sister up already. This guy had abused her enough, and walked aggressively towards her on a couple of occasions. When she was trying to talk to him, he kept screaming “Keep your hands down you f**king c**t!”, and walking towards her as if he would hit her. I'd put myself between the two to make sure whatever he did didn’t get to her.

In our attempts to calm him down and get him out of the door, my brother in law asked him to go out and check the letter box again. When my brother in law checked it, he found the keys in there. This guy was so drunk that he couldn’t find keys in an open letter box. We gave him the keys and he went up to his friends flat and passed out.

I called the police again. We weren't going to let this go just yet. The police came about 20 minutes later. The operator told me that the police needed to prioritise. Since I hadn't gotten hit, this case wasn't a priority apparently. When the police came in, we told them what happened. They called the apartment the guy had passed out in, but he didn't wake. They couldn't get in, they left. They told us that since a friend had left him the key, there wasn't much they could do. Additionally, since no one had been beaten to death, the most they could do was to talk to this person. Great. If you manage to escape the situation in one piece, the police can't take action. So, should I have pissed this person off to get him to gaol? Does he have to kill someone to be punished? I don't know. We were just disappointed that the police didn't do much. Of course, it did occur to me that us being Indians in Australia had something to do with this, but it's wrong of me to state it. I don't know another similar case when Aussies had reported it, and I don't know what the police did.

Thus, I got out of a bad situation without getting my teeth out on the floor like my weekend shopping. Great experience eh?

My take

As a born Hindu, one of the things we're taught is "If you do good things, good things will happen to you." Well, so much for that. We were trying to be nice, and we almost got our faces bashed in.

We pay our taxes, so no, we're not leeching off Aussies. We pay our way. In fact, I paid 50,000 AUD for my 4 semesters at UTS as an international student. So, please, if you have ignorant friends who think we "immigrants", as we're popularly referred to, are leeching off your money, please educate them. We study, we earn, we pay our taxes, we pay for everything we do. We don't take Aussie money for anything we do. If you think we shouldn't be taking your jobs, well then, study up!

This event is more significant to me than it would normally be. I'm not shaken up. I'm really not scared of getting beaten up. At least that would've gotten this guy into gaol and probably saved the next guy that shan't be as lucky. A couple of weeks back, when I still lived at university housing, a drunk lady had come up to me to ask me for something. I, as a rule, avoid drunk people. Don't get me wrong, I drink too - and quite a bit when I'm with friends. However, I'm never out of control, and I've never had to ask a stranger for help. I ignored her and walked away. She screamed something about a gentleman to which I mentally replied "Yeah, real lady you are, walking around drunk on the streets." However, when I thought about it later in the confines of my hostel room, I thought I could've done better. I could've helped her. So what if she was drunk? May be she did really need help. I felt guilty and I'd modified my rule to "Help people, believe that people are good." It's why I decided to help this person in the first place. Now, after this experience, I'm not so certain if I'd made a change for the better or worse. Had I walked away, I wouldn't have gotten pushed around, or abused, or racially abused. I know that I shouldn't generalise on the basis of this one experience, but it isn't right to generalise on the basis of good experiences either - even I've had quite a few of them. The one thing you can't ignore is that one bad experience might leave you with a life long injury. Is it really worth it? What if this person had hit me? What then? What if he had hit my sister? What then? What if he had hit us hard enough to cause us permanent injury? Just because it didn't happen doesn't mean that it couldn't. When he was pushing me around, I wasn't thinking of "God" teaching me a lesson. Everything is a lesson in hindsight if you survive it. Not everyone is that lucky though.

I'm not helping drunk people any more. Until I know for sure that someone's worth helping, I'm going to be my normal sceptic self. You may or may not agree with my decision, and it's yours to make. Please just remember, that whatever you do, your safety is most important. There are better ways of helping strangers than stepping into a situation that might result in you losing teeth.