I have walked down a dark street towards the couple having a screaming domestic, his fist hovering by her face and obscenities in his spittle, and I have stopped, and said straight to the woman, “Do you want me to call the police?"
Sometimes I have called the police despite their answer. Sometimes I have not needed to. I have stopped a fight merely by being the only other person on the quiet station platform, standing up, and walking towards them, until they noticed me, and stopped screaming.
Today, some eight yobbos were crowded around the Coffee HQ at Spencer Street Station as I and the beginning of the peak hour crush hurried for that train home. They were shouting and screaming at the sole barister standing behind the counter. I stopped. I got out my phone.
After some more yelling, the gist of which I didn't catch it the cacophony of the station, one knocked a display of fruit bars from the counter, sending them spinning across the pavement, and the group walked away and up the escalators towards the platforms. I followed them. When they goaded each other into turning around and going back down the escalators, back to the coffee counter, I stopped, finger on the dial button. “Wait," one of them said. “We're gonna miss the train."
They turned again and ran back up the stairs through the barriers, and I followed them. I stood at the railing of the second tier and watched them push down onto the platform and dive onto the 4:14 Epping. Then I turned, dashed back to Coffee HQ, and babbled on about what train they'd caught, if I needed to make a statement, call the police, they'd be caught on CCTV, security saw them running. The barista just looked at me and shook his head.
“What's the point?" He gestured towards a far too late appearance by a security guard who very carefully did not approach the coffee counter. “Look at the security here. What they do." I offered to leave my details as a witness. He just shook his head again.
“Don't let the fuckers win," I said, and then left to catch my train.
Justice is not a concept with which I have ever thought myself particularly vested in. Nothing in the world is fair, I do not expect or even hope for fairness, but fairness and justice are two different things. It aggravated me to think that these jerk wads would feel no consequences for their arsehole behaviour. Having been behind the counter and screamed at by a customer, I know how it gets under the skin and makes it just that little bit harder to come to work every single day. This time the fuckers won, and I helped them to do so.
I am a lone and unintimidating female. In such situations this is to my advantage. The taboo of men hitting women, while it cannot be relied on, nevertheless exists. That I am diminutive to boot only compounds my lack of threat, and therefore, the lack of any gain in bullying or crushing me. The man who pushes over the small woman half his size is more likely to be ridiculed by his friends than lauded.
I am a lone and unintimidating female. Unfortunately, I am not unaware of this, and of the position society slots me into, and I let that inform my decisions. Cowardice kept my feet still. You could call it pragmatism, I suppose, but it was cowardice alone that stopped me from stepping in and taking more direct action.
I am a lone and unintimidating female, and I let this be an excuse not to be a Big Goddamn Hero.
I do not turned a blind eye walk away. I'm not a bystander, I will give myself that.
What disappoints me is that what action I do take is not enough.
One day it will be me surrounded by aggressive cunts, and when that happens, I hope someone, anyone, everyone, will step in and make more of a difference than I did today.