Two different fares prove the point that Sydney’s streets can always be dangerous – especially at night
Around 9pm two young blokes in shorts, singlets and barefeet flagged me down on a residential street in Coogee. One had an old fella propped up against a fence. The other opened the cab door and said, ‘Mate, this gentleman has fallen over and hit his head – would you mind taking him home?’ ‘Yeah, righto’, I replied, thinking he was drunk.
In fact he could barely move due to a deformed leg. He also carried a shortened left arm tucked tightly into the body, with a contorted claw fist. The young fellas helped him to the cab, carefully lifting each foot.
‘He’s got money in his wallet’, the Samaritans said, ‘and his address is __ _____ Street. You got that?’. ‘Yeah’, I told them, ‘I’ll get him home’. From then on it felt like a mercy trip. The man was well over 70 years old, in shock and disorientated.
Slowly he came around, checking his pockets and patting the back of his head. ‘You sure you don’t want to go for a check-up at Saint Vincent’s?’, I asked. ‘I’ll be alright’, he said. ‘Just take me home’.
Within fifteen minutes, he freshened up enough to demand we pull over. ‘But you don’t live here’, I said, but he insisted. What could I do? As he was conscious enough to pay the fare, I hopped out and went around to help him. ‘Mate, this ain’t home! What are you getting out here for?’
Eventually he agreed he was in the wrong street.
Climbing back in the cab I drove to his address a few blocks away. We stopped outside a shabby unlit boarding house opposite the Hard Rock Café. As I helped him out onto his feet, my spotlight bathed the back of his head. It was covered in wispy strands of snowy hair, half covered in dried blood. ‘Jeez, mate’, I said, ‘you’ve given your noggin a real crack. There’s a cut and some blood there’.
Despite his proud assurances, I grabbed him under his good arm and we made our way up the dozen steps of his boarding house, gingerly dragging his gammy leg. After fishing around for his key, he opened the door to a gritty darkened corridor. There was no one there for him. But he point-blank refused any further help beyond the door, and thanked me in a strong dignified voice. Five minutes later I returned and drove past to see a light on in the unit directly opposite the front door.
A good result, I thought, and with luck a community nurse will come around and clean up the wound.
Speaking of wounds, in an amazing coincidence a few hours later, I was hailed in the very same block by a tall, barrel-chested bloke, around 30, wearing a sleeveless muscle shirt. I pinned him for a gym jockey. His left arm was heavily wrapped in bandages from the hand to above the elbow. Climbing in he said, ‘It’s just a short trip up to
Oxford Street. My arm’s throbbing too much to walk’.
‘What happened to you?’, I asked. ‘Mate’, he replied, ‘did you read about an attack early last Saturday morning? Back there on William and Bourke Street?’ This was the Ferrari dealer corner, a notorious night-time haunt of hookers and pimps.
According to my passenger, he and his girlfriend were approached by two Persian males and asked for a cigarette. The request was declined, unambiguously. One of the males then allegedly produced a machete and proceeded to attack my passenger about the head.
In defending himself my passenger raised his left forearm and sustained numerous gashes from contact with the blade. These required some 150 stitches to close. Plus he lost 1½ litres of blood.
After resisting the initial attack, he was able to disarm and ‘subdue’ the assailant, whose mate ran off. Five days later, the assailant remains in hospital, facing a possible 20-year jail term.
And he didn’t even get the cigarette. Dope.
Read more of Adrian the Cabbie at www.cablog.com.au