16 August 2009
First, I'd like to thank everyone who responded with messages of support and sympathy. Having such friends around the world is one of the joys of my life, and each message made my sun shine just that bit brighter. I'll be around to collect some of those hugs in person!
The security camera footage was downloaded from the car, and I got to see a few frames at the police station. It wasn't quite as broad and as complete as I was expecting, though the picture quality of the interior of a dark cab was excellent.
The police sergeant who took my statement told me that he believed my passenger was genuinely contrite, it was out of character for him, he was willing to apologise in person, pay the fare etc.
This pretty much matched up with what I'd been thinking on looking back. Sure, and I've labelled that photograph "Face of Evil", but he didn't come storming across the road, he didn't look agitated, he just stood there and let me take his picture. Nor was there any sense of following a script in the way that fare-evaders often have a routine performance they've used many times before.
And, although he was very drunk and unwilling to give me a destination address, I carry a lot of the responsibility. I should have found some way to jolly him along. Instead, I pretty much backed him into a corner outside the police station and then was astonished when a drunk man took a couple of swipes at me.
Given that he didn't do any real damage, I've decided not to proceed. If he had made a solid connection, or if the police had indicated he had a history of violence, I would have gone ahead.
I'd been feeling pretty cranky myself. I'd just made the decision to avoid Parliament House bookings because far too often my fares get stolen, and I enjoy carrying these sort of passengers, especially the folk from the Press Gallery. I've carried Michelle Grattan a number of times, and she is a real sweetie.
One of the drawbacks of driving drunks around is that they aren't always logical. I've been a cabbie long enough that I should have handled the situation better. In particular, I should have gotten a destination address before I even left the hotel. It was my failure as much as anybody else's, and the result is that several people, including me, have been inconvenienced, embarrassed and stuffed around.
Still, it was a stressful evening all round, and not one I'd care to repeat in a hurry.