The Exact Moment I Grew Up
It’s 5:30am on Sunday morning in the early 2000s. I’m walking over the hill back into Samford Valley, the sun is coming up and bouncing off the mountains in the distance. I’m bleeding, tired, drunk and hungover. I get back home and my dad says I have a phone call. I tell the caller I will not press charges against the police officer.
The night before started like any other weekend night for me in my early 20’s, driving around Samford drinking big cans of Woodstock bourbon with no plans other than to drink as much of it as possible. We were in the park drinking when the police turned up.
The last few years had been a challenging transition. I’d moved out there to be part of a blended family and had become friends with my stepbrother’s friends. It felt good to have friends again. I hadn’t been able to hold onto my school friends or make too many new ones at Uni. But it wasn’t the best crowd.
In the months previous I’d written off my first car doing reverse donuts in the town park (it was front wheel drive), rolled my new car doing burnouts and spent countless time in friends cars driving around drunk and stoned. One weekend our parents went away, we had a party so big the police were called several times and we made the local paper. It was my proudest achievement.
I barely left Samford. When I did it would be to go out to the city to get drunk, where I’d stay until 5am, sleep in my car and drive home when I woke up.
I was failing at uni pretty badly. My first semester I averaged 2.5 out of 7 for my subjects and I was at risk of being kicked out. None of my friends had ambitions greater than acquiring a V8 Kingswood. I had one friend who was also at uni but he was failing worse than I was. I was older than most of these guys though and I’d taken a bit longer to grow up than I should have.
In fact, when the police officer approached us in the park and asked how old I was, I told him I was 15. When he started to tip my bourbon out, I said “Fuck off, I was drinking that!”, and I ripped it back out of his hands. My mates were silent, but I wasn’t taking shit from this fuckwit who thought he could come into OUR park and tip out MY drink.
He grabbed me and dragged me towards his car. He opened the door and started to push me into the car. I resisted and he smashed my face against the door opening of the car, drawing blood, then he shoved me in.
When I got to Ferny Grove Police Station I informed them that I was going to press charges. They told me to shut up, swapped all of my belongings for an old blanket and threw me in a cell. It wasn’t the first time I’d been there, I knew the drill.
After about 4 hours, the attendant came to my cell and said I was free to leave. I informed him once again that I wanted to press charges against the Officer who assaulted me. He said in order to do that, I would have to go to another police station closer into the city at Wilston. I had about $30 which was about enough to get to Wilston and back, so I jumped in a cab to the station. When I arrived, I explained my situation to the Police Attendant. He said I had to get an assessment from a doctor in order to press charges, and it had to be tonight.
So I headed to the hospital emergency room in the inner city. I got there to find it was about a 3 hour wait to see a doctor. I waited for about 2.5 hours with a bunch of other drunk idiots. One of the drunkest and most idiotic, was a big Irish guy. He was there with a poorly bandaged hand which he’d smashed because he saw a cockroach on a wall and started punching it to try and kill it, destroying his hand in the process.
He was loud and obnoxious so I told him as much. He rushed up to me and started punching me in the face. Blood was going everywhere, and people were freaking out. It happened so fast I had no idea what was going on. The police rushed in and dragged him off. Thankfully it was mostly his blood and I was OK.
The police asked me what happened. I said “I was at Samford and some cunt police officer smashed me into his car and that’s the only reason I’m here”. The police officer didn’t take too well to me describing his fellow police force member in such terms, so he dragged me out of there and into his Paddywagon. He drove me into the valley, pulled up in a random street and opened the doors. “Get out here”, he said, which I did, and he drove off.
I only had $18 left which wouldn’t get me all the way home, so I ordered a cab and asked him to drive me as far as he could towards Samford for $18. I assumed he’s take me all the way home but we got as far as Ferny Grove, a 2 hour walk to home and he dropped me off.
It was still dark (just), but as I walked home, the sun was gradually coming up. By the time 5:30 came around I was descending upon the valley, after a solid 1.5 hours to contemplate the previous evening.
I started off being angry about all the people who did me wrong. The fuckhead police officer who smashed my face, the big Irish dickhead who bashed me, the idiot police officer who kicked me out of the hospital and dropped me off in the opposite location meaning I had no chance of getting home. Not to mention the cabby who couldn’t find it in his heart to drive me all the way home for much less than what it costs.
But after running this story through my head enough times, the penny finally dropped. If I wasn’t an obnoxious idiot to the police officer I wouldn’t have been dragged into the car. If I wasn’t abusive to the Irish guy I wouldn’t have been beat up. If I wasn’t a smart arse to the police officer, I wouldn’t have been dropped in the Valley and if I wasn’t dropped in the Valley, I could have gotten home on my $18.
I thought about the evening from a perspective other than my own. I’m not exactly sure why, but I suspect that enough crazy events occurred that just forced me to think that there could possibly be another explanation other than everyone else was a dickhead.
And this is the nature of maturity. Realizing that you are not the centre of the world, and seeing things your way is not the only way to see them. I was finally able to see each event from the other person’s point of view.
I had grown up in that exact moment.
So when I got home, I told the police officer I would not press charges. In the months and years that followed I turned my life around. I went from 2.5 out of 7 in my first semester at uni, to 6.5 out of 7 in my last. I graduated, moved out of home into the city, and got a job at a consultancy and began my career.
I still slip back into moments of immaturity where my actions and implications on others are briefly ignored. I’m not perfect. These days a small reminder will be enough to remind me that my eyes aren’t the only way to view the world.
Image from Unsplash.