Monday, February 06, 2012

On the Bus

It's 7.00 o'clock on a Tuesday night and I'm at work.

I pull up at a bus stop.
A young girl and guy are waiting it seems.
But as she goes to board the bus he stops her.
She looks confused and says "Let me get on the bus"
He refuses her request.
For a moment I think they're mucking around but the look on her face and the tone of his voice suggest otherwise.
She tries repeatedly to get on the bus and he stops her every time.
Holding her.
Blocking her.
Pushing her back against a fence.
Constraining her with desperate whiny pleas. "Stay here. Stay with me. Don't get on the bus. etc" and all the while physically preventing her getting on the bus.
She looks at me and apologizes and again says "Let me get on the bus, I want to go".

It's my last run of the day.
I've got one passenger on board.
I'm due at a driver changeover in 8 minutes.
But I'm not going anywhere.

I get out of my seat and say to the guy, "Mate, you need to let her go so she can get on the bus".

%#@$ off! is his predictable reply.

I repeat myself but I already know he's not listening and is not going to comply.

I think back a few months to a similar scenario in town where I instinctively intervened to stop a violent incident and copped a punch in the face for my efforts. As blood poured from my nose I had watched the boy proceed to hit, kick and drag his female companion up the street. I called the police and reported it the next day, providing pictures of my assailant but surprise surprise the police said there was nothing they could do without independent witnesses!

I look at the boy in this incident.
He's smaller than me. Weedy. No obvious weapons.
I consider my options.
I could drag him off her, I'm confident I am big enough and strong enough to overpower him but...
Then what?
Does he stand meekly by while his girlfriend and I get on the bus and I drive her away?
More likely he gets on the bus too and suddenly my problems are multiplied, or he kicks and bashes the bus and inflicts damage on it and us.
I keep a safe distance and tell him I'm going to call the police.

He says he doesn't care and I believe him.
I call 000.
Police please, to ____________ Rd & ____________ St
The operator asks the standard questions and tells me police have been notified.

The wait for reinforcements begins as the stand-off continues.
I could get on the bus and drive away trusting the police will turn up and sort it out but...
I'm sure this is a bad situation that has the potential to get much worse.

I wait.
I apologize to my passenger and he is understanding.

Over the next twenty minutes the girl tries in vain to convince her "boyfriend" to let her go and he continues to hold her "prisoner", all the while pushing, dragging and attempting to carry her around the corner and up the street.

My changeover long since missed I monitor the situation and look up and down the street hoping the cops will arrive soon. I've been there 45 minutes.
To compound the situation my radio breaks down. I can't let anyone know where I am or what's happening.

The next bus arrives. I get my passenger onto it and use its radio to contact my changeover driver. He has wisely decided to start his run some time earlier.

I continue to wait.
The girl continues to seek her freedom.
The boy continues to keep her captive.

I call 000 again and request more urgent attention. 
This time I speak to the police directly.
They ask the same questions, get the same details and give the same assurance: 
"We'll be there as soon as possible"

I'm not confident but I wait and look and hope, all the while keeping an eye on the situation.
I've decided that if it escalates I will physically interevene but so long as nothing changes for the worse I will wait for the police to come and deal with it.

Finally they arrive.
The boy lets her go and she walks away as the police get out of the car.
Two officers.
One speaks to each while I watch and listen.
The older officer talks to the girl and seems pretty competent.
The younger cop talks to the boy and takes a friendly "light-hearted" approach.
I'm not impressed but say nothing.
After a couple of minutes I talk to the older cop and describe the events of the last hour.
He then speaks to the boy and quickly makes a judgement.
"I don't like him, he's a smart arse".

I presume their strategy is "go softly, avoid an arrest, sort it out peacefully, get them on their, separate, ways."

Plan A is for the girl to get on my bus and depart but then the boy says he's gonna get on the bus too and the cops say they can't stop him so they  opt for plan B, they will take the girl in the squad car.

I return to the bus and as I drive away cop some predictable abuse from the boy, now standing on the footpath, on his own. He's not happy but he should be grateful, it could have been a lot worse!

1 comment:

Peter said...

Does all this stuff really happen or is it played out in your mind???