Vincent Safuto’s Weblog

Notes and observations

The frustrations of having a very drunk rider in the car

Dealing with a very drunken person can be a challenge, as I learned the other day.

I received a ping on Lyft for a passenger named “Dave,” and that he’d be in the parking lot at the “Roo” in Ellenton.

I drove over there and found a man who claimed to be 65 years old, about 6-feet, 2-inches tall, and who staggered over to the car and said he was Dave.

He got in the car in the front seat, and announced that he was a Vietnam veteran of the Marines, and that he was very drunk and wanted to go to another bar.

I started driving and asked him what his MOS (job) was in the Marines. He got really upset and said he didn’t remember and hated when people asked that question, so he probably wasn’t a veteran at all.

Dave was the first passenger I came very close to ejecting from my car, or stopping a law enforcement officer and asking for help. He was very loud, very belligerent and very disrespectful.

He talked about the size of his “thing,” and then said, “You wanna f— me?”

I said I had zero desire to do any such thing. As we neared his destination, he yelled, “You stupid f—, I said I wanted to go to a bar, not home. Take me to Gator’s.”

I said that his destination was the apartment complex off State Road 64, and he said, “I don’t wanna go there. I’m not drunk enough yet. Take me to the bank so I can take out some money.”

At the drive-through, I let him out to use the ATM, and then let him back in the car.

He continued to curse at me and call me stupid. We stopped at a dive bar in the worst part of Bradenton (14th Street West near the Salvation Army) and he finally exited the car, with a final “F— you.”

I complained to Lyft, but the reply I got back was mostly boilerplate and misidentified Dave’s gender. Since I didn’t give Dave enough stars, I’ll never have him in the car again, but the drivers of Lyft and Uber need to know to avoid him and not give him a ride.

Actions have consequences.

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July 14, 2018 Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , | Leave a comment

Is getting hit in school all it’s cracked up to be?

I have had some contact recently with fellow students from my old Catholic elementary school, Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village, Queens, NY, and a recent article in a newspaper made me wonder about how things have changed.

The article noted that a father slapped his children, ages 3 and 5, in front of a police officer who had retrieved them after they had wandered into traffic, and the officer arrested the man.

It made me wonder because I grew up in a time when, supposedly, children were hit regularly by adults, and there are people who swear they are better people for being hit by adults when they were younger.

At our beloved OLH, it was not uncommon for teachers to smack kids around. I was hit by a couple of teachers and was very upset about it all. Mind you, this was a time when you could get into a schoolyard fight and not end up with the police arresting you. Punches were taken and given seemingly without a word.

Look, when the big game before classes was called “Kill the guy with the ball,” getting a shot to the puss wasn’t that big a deal.

The teachers probably didn’t know this, but we students knew who among them tended to resort to hitting when they didn’t get their way. One teacher in particular was feared for her tendency to not only hit but also raise her voice.

The story that went around one year was that at the practice for the veneration of the statue of the Virgin Mary in front of the school, she’d hit all the participants after they kept messing up.

One of the most popular teachers was a fellow who I later met again in 1999, at our 25-year reunion. I couldn’t get out of my mind the thought that one day, I had messed up and he had taken me into the hall, chewed me out and slapped me across the face a couple of times. I do remember coming back into the classroom and crying at my desk, and getting sympathy from a female student.

At one point during the 25-year event, we found ourselves standing together and I called him by his first name and asked how his life had gone. He admitted that in our eighth-grade year he was finishing his law degree, and indeed we were his final class. Maybe teaching was a frustrating option for him, I thought, and that’s why he did what he did.

In any case, I didn’t hold it against him.

One time, I was covering a school board meeting and the topic turned to the late 1960s, when pressure was building in Manatee County to desegregate the high schools. Of course, some people thought it was the end of the world, though the elementary schools were already integrated and working OK.

What stunned me was that some of the African Americans in the audience actually felt some nostalgia for the “black” high school. At the time, and at great cost, students from all over the county were bused to the “black” school, which was in Palmetto.

They remembered it as a place where they were taught by dedicated teachers, and also disciplined very harshly, with even the girls remembering being beaten by teachers for minor offenses.

I was shocked. Then again, in reading the minutes of school board meetings at the time, it seemed to be a more physical era. At one point in a school board meeting, a fight broke out, though a few people did apologize for their behavior.

Someone told me there were race riots at the “white” schools when the black kids arrived, and it took years to sort things out.

I remembered that everyone in my elementary school class was white, but that when I went to public high school I went with people of all different races.

Just going though my high school yearbook revealed the diversity of the class of 1978. Maybe we weren’t perfect, but we also were never hit in high school.

Smacking around kids who are smaller than you is not a good idea if you’re an adult, in my view. Maybe because I have so little contact with kids apart from my great-nephews and great-niece, I prefer to be their “cool” uncle than be a disciplinarian.

I could imagine the hell that would break loose if I tried to discipline those kids, since their parents might see it as interference or judgment.

When I read about kids being hit by adults, I do feel the kids’ pain. Yes, discipline is important and there must be punishments for bad behavior, but I don’t think beatings and abuse are the answer.

Resorting to talk of “the good old days” when kids were beaten is the refuge of those who want to just feel superior, I say.

 

July 3, 2018 Posted by | Life lessons, Living in the modern age | , , , , | Leave a comment