Thursday, 30 May 2013

Please sir, can I have your keys?

Last night I went to Andy McGibbon's monthly acoustic guitar evening to listen to my friend play (click this link to listen to one of his tracks online) - and the other performers. On this stage it is only music that the performers have written themselves, no covers.

I park and walk down to the venue where I meet up with a chap on the stairs. He says, "I... I... can I... I'm not sure what to do. A very drunk man has just gotten into his car. He can't walk straight. I'm not sure what to do."

I stood with him and we watched, waiting to see what would happen. The man was just sitting in his car and we were hoping that he'd take a nap. The rear lights came on and he started to reverse. Straight into the car behind him.

I walked up to the car - the man was just sitting. He rolled down his window.

"You've just reversed straight into another car and I don't think you should be driving. Why don't you park your car again and I can call someone for you or we can go inside for a while."

He parked and got out. Fortunately neither cars were damaged - not even scratched! Just a bumper bashing and the bumpers all popped out perfectly (memory materials). Not even paint work damage.

We stood around talking and I found out that he didn't want to phone his wife of 40 years (who would be mad that he was late - and drunk), he wasn't keen to phone either a taxi or a 'we'll drive you and your car home' service and that he didn't want to go inside because his friends at the bar would see him and he was now embarrassed.

We did discuss how he was too drunk to drive.

"But I can do all the tests," he says touching his nose.

I told him that I didn't care about tests and that I knew and he knew that he was way to drunk to drive. We're talking standing up straight issues here.

He handed over his keys and followed me into the venue once I'd convinced him that the entrance for the music venue wasn't anywhere near his friends at the bar.

He came and sat with me, we chatted a bit, listened to music, drank soft drinks, discovered that we knew a person in common and two hours later he left to go home.

He's an older man - later 60s. Retired. He met up with old friends for drinks. From back in the day when they were in the army on the SA - South-West Africa border. He lost many friends there and he was quite emotional listening to the music and talking to me about these days out there and how he still so misses friends who were killed.

He was in a profession where you don't often see the best in people. He didn't trust that I was not a scam artist, thinking that I would duck off to the toilet with his car keys in my pocket and that I'd drive off with his car. He promised to stay sitting with me if I'd give him his keys back. I did. He stayed. We chatted.

Well done to the young man (one of the sound engineers) who spotted this guy stumbling out of the building. As a woman, I can get away far easier with being bossy and getting this guy out of his car and persuading him to come with me, than this strapping young lad would be able to.

Bar tenders who keep dishing out drinks to clearly trashed customers are... are... decent vocabulary fails me. And then you let them walk out the door and get into vehicles! There should be some ethics in this industry.

As for the friends who let friends drive drunk... You have no right to call yourself friends. Pieces of...

And if you are the one out drinking, use a taxi service, drink at a pub close to home so that you can walk home, get a sober friend to drive you home... anything except getting into your car when you're so trashed you can barely walk!

I cared for this man who was a hazard to himself and to others on the road. This night could have turned very ugly out there. When he said his wife would be mad that he was late I questioned, "Would she rather you were late or dead?".

I have family members who drink too much and then drive home. I hope someone like me will stop them too. because I care for them and I'd like them to get home safely.

And I care for myself. If I'd arrived 10 minutes later I would have been on the road with this man and maybe I wouldn't have made it home last night.


Michelle Hutchinson said...

Thanks for your actions and your thought provoking post. After being at Afrikaburn, I feel much more willing to approach strangers and engage with them in some way, but it took guts to decide that you were going to do your utmost best to stop this man from driving drunk. I will certainly take a page out of your book...

adventurelisa said...

Hey Michelle.
Oddly, he kept asking me why I trusted him. As I told him, we were in a public place just sitting down and I wasn't going anywhere with him. No need to not trust him.

We had a few interesting chats. Related to this he asked why I had stopped him and brought him in with me. I told him it was because I cared. He asked whether I believed in God. I'm a through and through atheist (always have been)and so I told him that I didn't believe in God.
"God cares about people," he says.

"People care about people too," I replied. "You don't have to believe in God to do good things for other people."