Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Malcolm Gavey - legend

I spent a bit of time working in the public transport sector. Every day, I'd read internal reports of staff that had been abused, punched, spat on, assaulted and in one case, threatened with a handful of poo.

Now I also travelled by public transport at the time, and I had to deal with those same people at many different locations, and I occasionally found that I wanted to sock them in the mouth, but I never did.

I kept my peace. I kept a civil tongue in my head. I smiled and didn't let them get to me. Because I always remembered that whilst I am an edumacated, well brought up and sane human being, they spend all day dealing with people who are drunk, abusive, mad (as in mentally disturbed), thieving, vandalising and violent.

Transport is one of those areas where you rapidly come in contact with the entire cross section of humanity, because so many people are using it, and you bump up against them face to face. A busy train station or bus station or airport might process tens of thousands of customers in an hour, and there will always be a percentage who will be one or all of the above. Whilst 98% of your customers might be like me (and hopefully like you), there will always be the oddballs that make life fucking impossible for everyone else.

You know who I am talking about.

The guy that sleeps in, arrives late at the airport, tries to check in 2 minutes before his flight leaves and then starts abusing the check-in staff for being utterly hopeless.

The idiot that attacks the airport bar and gets too pissed to fly, but then goes mental when refused entry into the plane.

The panhandlers that walk through trains asking for spare change, getting aggro at those that don't cough up.

The inconsiderate bastards who have 110 decibel phone conversations on an early morning bus.

Fare dodgers, litterers and smokers that refuse to believe that non-smoking zones apply to them.

Officials have to deal with these cretins all the time, and after a while, when dealing with the general public, the default setting turns to treating you like a cretin until you have proven otherwise. At most, they might only spend 15 seconds of their life dealing with you - they are not going to invest a lot of effort into being nice and trying to understand your situation. They have a job to do, policies to apply, and procedures to follow, and they don't have the time to frigg around with people being idiots.

Which is why I think Malcolm Gavey is a legend. He saw some bloody interstate tourist blatantly breaking the law - someone he will in all liklihood never see again - and he applied the law. He applied it fairly and consistently. He didn't bend over. He didn't budge. He didn't fold in the face of an angry southern lawyer. He held his ground.

Keep it up. We need people to do their jobs, not bend to the whims of the middle class.

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