Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stop the Presses

Nowadays it is probably a matter of hitting pause on a keyboard to stop the presses. With the Highrise being full of visitors, most of my posts are scheduled  a day or more ahead. This is what happened today.

We had bought ice creams at Trampoline in Acland Street. I stood and ate mine outside another shop where there was shade, while K,J&R sat at an adjacent table of another shop to eat theirs. I was waiting for an owner to come out and ask them to move on, but no one did.

A shouty man came along the street and stood in a doorway. He was obviously mentally ill or under the influence of drugs, maybe both. He ranted away at no one in particular in a mix of English and something unintelligible which may have been another language or just rubbish. He was a bit loud and making people look around, but normally such people just mouth off and mean no harm.

I walked to a rubbish bin to get rid of my ice cream cup and walked back to the others who were just finishing their ice creams. The guy was getting louder. R said, come on, we'll go. I had sunglasses on and at no time did I look at the bloke, but suddenly he was in front of me and in my face and verbally and physically threatening me. I side stepped him and kept going with the others following behind me. We paused and looked back and there was a couple with three young children sitting and eating and he was in their face.

Enough. I had been alarmed and briefly afraid but the bloke tackling families in a one of Melbourne's prime tourist streets was surprising. I told R to keep going to The Esplanade Market with K&J and I called the police.  It seemed to take forever to get the details across, including my name and address, but as I hung up my phone, it said call length 3.35. Easy.

I am not young and I have been around. I am well enough acquainted with druggies, drunks, the mentally ill and society's general misfits, but for ten seconds today, I was afraid while I had been enjoying myself in one of  Melbourne's prime tourist streets.

With a little reflection, I think the guy targeted me because I had sunglasses on and I did not look at him. Had I have met his eye, I doubt anything would have kicked off. Do I flatter myself that my disapproving stare might have worked? Probably.

We hear of our crime figures constantly falling, and indulging in threatening behaviour is hardly at the top of the crime stats tree, but as with many things, it is about perception, not facts or statistics. When someone like me and people like the couple with kids feel threatened, perception is all and we will quickly fall to the feet of any political party that has a strong law and order platform.

6 comments:

  1. It is a shame that as the city gets larger and more sprawling, people have to be more wary and cautious.

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  2. Michael, not a problem in your town. The worst I saw was Falun Gong protesters hiding in an underpass, with a watchful eye out for the police.

    You live in a big city. It does not have to be like that.

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  3. I find that I am more worried, not afraid exactly, but wary, as I get older, especially now that I probably couldn't run if I had to. I'll happily cross the street or duck into a shop if a person like this appears to be coming my way.

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    1. River, rather like the advice police give, remain alert and move confidently.

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  4. It's such a pain when this happens and yet I always find myself wondering how people come to be in such circumstances, surely they've been let down by the system or family somewhere down the line!

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    1. Grace, in this case I guess mental illness plus drugs. Truly, that sort of thing doesn't happen that often in a city of 5 million.

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