Thursday, September 23, 2010
Caught the 67 tram home last night at around 10.30pm.
The tram turned into Glenhuntly Road and a bunch of youths boarded. They were boisterous and obviously misbehaving, however the extent of the carnage to come was not yet apparent. It was only a matter of second before there were close to thirty young punks on the tram, and plenty more outside it. What was also immediately apparent was that there had been/was about to be some altercation between two large groups of teenagers.
One of the ringleaders, let's call him Forrest Gump (the similarity was uncanny) had armed himself with what appeared to be a collapsible metal chair. No, he wasn't off to the wrestling. I am bewildered though, why he took the metal chair onto the tram, when clearly the object of his (and his crew's) aggression was with antagonists that weren't on the tram. Perhaps he just wanted to be sure he got a seat if the tram was crowded. Which by now it most certainly was.
The tram was unable to move for close on five minutes, as the delirious mob were unable to decide whether to remain on the tram, or to disembark and confront their foes. The behaviour was self perpetuating, as the louder one yelled the more his accomplices felt they had to escalate their behaviour. Forrest Gump was the main offender, but there was another, smaller punk - we'll call him Rocky - who was, and I quote, 'fucked up and really needing to smash some cunt'.
It was a textbook perfect guide to the workings of teenage mobs. And it was really quite terrifying. There wasn't one of these punks that I couldn't have handled, and I sense they knew it - not one of them approached me, even when they went begging for cigarettes, but the sheer number of them, and the frenzy they had worked themselves into, was well out of hand.
A fellow passenger took his life into his own hands by telling them to settle down, however I had decided to act only if there was a direct threat to anyone else's physical safety.
So after the tram eventually departed, the group (including a couple of girls, for what they are attracted to in this situation I am at a loss) could still not decide whether to continue or disembark. Some got off, other remained, and of those that remained, Rocky and another kid, let's call him fat try-hard loser, were talking up just how bad they wanted to smash cunts and that the rest of their crew were pussies for leaving the scene. They discussed how drunk they were ('I'm smashed', 'I'm not that drunk, hic!', 'I'm really fucken fucked up, man!') and Rocky then started punching things. Seats, windows, screens. His technique was rather good, and his punches were ferocious. I figure he hurt his hand delivering one of his blows as he soon stopped that action.
In the meantime, Forrest Gump had lit up a cigarette. The passenger who had told them to settle down told Forrest to put it out. He didn't of course, however he did continue smoking with his head, and the cigarette, out the window.
It was a hell tram ride for every other passenger, and the imminent threat was very real. The sense that every one on the tram was bracing themselves for something out of control kicking off was palpable. Rocky was desperate for a cigarette because he was so wound up. He asked an Indian guy for a cigarette and I winced when the Indian guy told him he had a cigarette, but that Rocky couldn't have one. It was a deliberately provocative thing to say from our Indian hero, and it threatened to escalte - until he told Rocky that the reason he couldn't have one was that it was his last one. 'Oh, that's cool then, Bro!'
The last of them, Forrest Gump, Rocky and Co. all alighted at Glenhuntly Station. I was worried for a moment because the only passenger on the tram brave (stupid) enough to stand up to them got off at the same stop. However it soon became apparent that he was headed in a different direction.
I guess the kids all then went to the railway line to start throwing rocks at trains, or whatever it is that punk kids do to entertain themselves these days.
Then I figured it out. Whilst gang culture in the US was born out of displaced and disaffected youth, the Australian youth gang scene is just an acting out by mollycoddled, spoilt, brats who entertain themselves by acting as hard as the heroes they are fed via TV, movies, the Internet and video games. they had all been drinking. WTF? These kids were probably 15. They were out as a gang at 10.30pm. I know it's school holidays, but seriously - don't their parents have any idea where they are, or what they are up to? Do they even care?
And what would have happened had this escalated to a point where I, and others, was forced to act? What if I had've messed up one of those punks? What if they (and I'm pretty sure they did) had knives?
And through all of this, and this is the thing I can conceive, the tram driver did not make a single announcement, and he sure as hell didn't call the cops. If someone got hurt I, for one, would be pointing my finger at Mr Gutless tram driver.
Anyway, we all got home and no one appears to have been hurt.
Lucky country indeed.