A couple of years ago I was riding around Auckland City managing a team of rickshaw riders for Heart Of The City. We had a new guy, that I will call Karl, that was still learning the ropes and consequentially was making some easily avoided mistakes. It was late at night around 1am on a Saturday night that I got a call from Karl saying he had buckled his wheel. He had been riding too close to a line of taxis as he descended Albert st and one of the taxis had pulled out quickly, hitting the bike and destroying the wheel. Luckily nobody was hurt but the bike was unrideable.
I had recently watched ‘The world’s fastest indian’ which gave me the idea to tie a piece of 4×2 timber to the place where the wheel should be so as to drag it back to the storage facility.
So I went walking around the alleyways of lower Albert st to find this 4×2 and instead I found a guy trying to hang himself. He had tied himself around the neck with his t-shirt to the retracting grill door of a car parking facility. He was frothing at the mouth and his feet were kind-of swinging loose.
It took a moment to register what was going on and to come to grips with what was happening and in hindsight I feel ashamed for having hesitated. But I rushed over and yanked him free of the t-shirt noose. It wasn’t very easy because of the weight of his body and the urgency of the situation made me feel like my actions were extremely slow.
So he collapsed and was crying and spluttering which I took as a good sign.
I rang the ambulance which arrived very quickly after a frustratingly slow telephone call.
They took him away and apparently he recovered well.
The next week his parents called me wanting to know the details. They were very much relieved and confused and a whole jumble of emotions. So I offered to take them to the location of the incident.
When we arrived at the scene we stood in front of the door of the car parking building as I pointed out what happened. As we were talking the security officer came out to tell us that we are not allowed to stand there. I asked him if he knew about the guy who tried to hang himself here the previous Saturday and he said yes. In fact he had been working that night and had seen it live on CCTV. However it was company policy not to intervene in such matters.
So I guess I’m glad that Karl’s negligence led me away from the Main rd into the alleyway where the corporations dare not step outside of the safety of their television screens.
But I guess I’m also sad that policy can get in the way of a human response to an emergency. Less robots more people please.
Riding through the streets of Auckland I see a lot of incredible, weird and broken things at the small end of the night. A lot of folk having the ride of their life: A lot of people devolving. These are my reflections.