Out and about Friday night after a relatively serious drinking session with friends (for me, more than three glasses is serious!)… I waited at the tram stop outside the Arts Centre.
A handful of minutes pass and a young girl approaches, crying. Lost and upset, she doesn’t have a jacket – always a bad idea in Melbourne unless it’s the middle of a heat wave (the saying goes: Melbourne – if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes).
She wanted to use my mobile to call her boyfriend. I obliged. They had a brief, catty and drunken conversation before she hung up on him.
Eventually, she told me her name and what’d happened. She’d jumped on a tram to find out where it was going – but it took off. And her boyfriend’s crime was that he hadn’t followed her.
So they were separated. He had her phone and money and she was stranded. Also, she didn’t know the way to his house exactly, where she was staying.
She was crying and swearing at her boyfriend, utterly furious with him.
I called him back and asked what I could do to help her. He asked if I could put her in a cab and he’d pay for it at the other end.
Easier said than done at one in the morning this close to Christmas.
But we tried. We went to the side of the road (trams run down the center) and I put my arm around her to keep her warm.
The cab didn’t materialise but a tram arrived going the right way… so we both got on – luckily there was a female tram driver, who helped me figure out where this young thing (just twenty-three) needed to go.
Still really pissed at her boyfriend, she was calling him every name under the sun. But when I questioned her about things, it was clear she was just mad at herself and blamed him. Because she could.
As we talked she finally agreed, several times, that it wasn’t her boyfriend’s fault, what’d happened.
I kept her talking until my stop. The lady tram driver said she’d call a cab for the girl from the terminal to get her the last leg home. Other passengers were also really lovely, looking out for her. I gave her a hug and said goodnight.
A little later her boyfriend called me – she hadn’t arrived at his place yet. He sounded really concerned and upset. I explained where she was and that she was okay.
Funny thing is… they were both so mad at each other over a silly drunken Friday night misunderstanding.
And what did I learn from all of this? Despite the late hour and being rather sozzled… I saw how easy it is to blame people for stuff that isn’t their fault, especially when we’re already hurting in some way. And make them the object of our anger…
One person reacts. The next person reacts to that person’s reaction – or what they’ve understood of it anyway… a snowball begins, picking up speed.
Just another way in which the human malaise of general delusion and madness strikes… and we have a choice every single time:
To let the momentum build, grow larger, and become overblown. And cause pain to another for no damn good reason – potentially damaging that relationship.
Call a spade, a spade. Laugh at yourself for your own madness. And pull it apart. The whole stupid thing.