monochrome surface


Dear Sophia:

Be Kind.

Jacinda tells us to “Be Kind”.

Tea Towels, T shirts, Bags, Facebook memes, Cinderella – all exhort us to “Be Kind”.

I sent this text today:

Dear Mr & Mrs Ampleforth:
My name is Lilo and I drove your son this afternoon. I live in the neighbourhood.
I picked up William at (address redacted). I believe that this is your address.

Originally, we were meant to go to Sky City. We were almost there when he asked to go instead to Kumeu. He said he could pay me the $50 it would take to go from Hobson St to the (address redacted) in Kumeu. We were almost there and it occurred to me that your son was inebriated. During the ride he kept trying to stroke my arm or my neck and every time I told him no. Each time he replied, “I understand”.
3 minutes to the destination he told me that he had to pee. I went to pull over and he yelled at me. Then he started pulling his pants down. I pulled over and told him to do it outside. He spilled a hidden bottle of bubbles all over the floor and got out, did his business.
We arrived at the destination and he jumped the fence. I was going to try to go but he left his phone. I just did not feel like I could leave him and take his phone.
He came back to the car and wanted to go back to the city. He then passed out for part of the trip and woke up again somewhere near the Te Atatu exit. He asked me if this was a dream to which I growled “I hope not”
He asked where we were going and I told him that we were returning, at his request, to his parents house. He told me to keep driving south. I said no.
I was pretty irritated at this point, and when we got to the house I asked for the money for the trip. He said he could do a bank transfer. He didn’t. I took a photograph of his credit card, front and back and then he asked if I was a Jew.
I was pretty stunned. Then he said “I don’t trust you”. You can imagine how that felt after ensuring his safety throughout.
Then he went to stroke my neck again and I said “please stop it, please stop trying to touch me.” and he got out of the car and said “no one wants to touch you anyway you fat c*nt.”

He kept telling me his dad is American. So am I, and I think that’s why he wanted to ride with me.

I am out $100 and 2 hours of my time. If you would like to make good on that, I’m all in and this is where it ends. He has soiled my back seat, which ended my shift. I have taken snaps of his credit card and his name on his phone and can provide those to you.

I’d like to think that you will do the right thing. I hope so.

There is no doubt that a lockdown is very hard on people all over the world. We have all felt it – this feeling of being quite untethered from our normal lives. It causes untold harm to those already suffering from mental health issues.

I thought about how humans handle situations like this – those that become too personal too fast. The situations that require so much more than simply driving and conversational skills.

So often we don’t want to know – I didn’t want to know. Once it was clear that he was having an episode of some sort my only thought was to pass him off to the person or people who could really help him. To keep him mollified by speaking softly until I could do that. As if the lad were some sort of baton to be passed off to someone else in an inhumane relay race before something bad or embarrassing happened.

Where was my compassion?
It was there, knotted in the back of my throat, choking me with the fear of this dude doing something unpredictable. And irreversible.

I hated myself too, because wrapped up in this was the fact that I wasn’t earning much due to Covid-19 and just maybe I had ignored a warning sign or two.

Had I?

Would it have been kinder to let the situation go and not go for a good earning trip?

Is kindness really just ignoring something awkward politely until it goes away? Or does it require standing up and actively engaging? How? I’m no expert, where are the experts?

Would the situation have ended if I had just driven to the police station?

Probably. Is that kind? I do not know. Do you?

I received this response from his parents.

Hi Lilo,

I am so very sorry for William’s disgusting behaviour.

Please forward me your bank account details. I don’t know where to start and you deserve an explanation… firstly he is bipolar and unmedicated at the moment, he is trespassed from here as of last night but arrived back none the less and he is sleeping in the flat downstairs.

None of these is excusing his appalling behaviour and we are both so sorry. Thank you for at least giving is the opportunity to apologise and we will forward this at him and when he comes through this episode he will make amends to you, not in person as I’m sure you would not want that. So, thank you Lilo and your account details please, (signed).

At this my heart broke. I could feel the agony of his parents, the embarrassment of having to apologise for their son’s behaviour. Their son who is very smart and accomplished when his bipolar is under control. They love their son, but to whom can they pass this baton?

What is kind? I do not know. Really, Sophia, what is kind?