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Cabbie reveals binge-drinking nightmare

Adelaide cabbie Avel Aretas reveals in this graphic account our city’s binge drinking nightmare:

Adelaide is the Festival City, but there is one event we should not be proud of – the Adelaide Binge Drinking Festival.

It is held every Friday and Saturday night and doesn’t discriminate, involving everyone from 12-year-olds to 60-year-olds, from the homeless to captains of industry, and from the famous to the infamous.

As a taxi driver I have come into contact with thousands of binge drinkers from all walks of life and intimately watched their ugly impact on society.

One person can “infect” dozens of people every night, from family members to the cabbie who has to transport them from watering hole to watering hole.

Every night I saw the disgusting abuse and lewd suggestions meted out by binge drinkers to restaurant workers, bar staff and security personnel.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times a car of drunk kids has gone through a fast-food drive-through and said to young girls behind the counter, “Show us your tits” or “We want to f*** you”.

Some of the bashings I have seen stagger the imagination.

There’s the girl kicked in the head by a brutish young man because she refused his drunken solicitations.

Or the dozens of young men bashed every week and left for dead on our city streets, their blood washed away by morning so we can walk along Pirie St oblivious to the terror that existed in the same place only a few hours before.

But there was one incident, about three years ago, that stands out. I collected four girls, who had sneaked out from under their parents’ watch for a night out on the town. They were vivacious, good humoured and excited about what lay ahead.

They appeared to look about 19, but I was shocked when during conversation they revealed they were just 13.

They liked me and I liked them, so after dropping them off at Heaven nightclub I organised a return fare later that night.

But the once-friendly quartet turned feral on their way home thanks to a booze-fuelled night – all, that is, except one who was virtually comatose, her clothes stinking of alcohol and vomit.

I dropped off her friends, leaving her alone in the backseat as I drove through Adelaide’s north-eastern suburbs. Lucky for her, I have two daughters and I took my responsibility seriously. Even more fortunately for her, it was her house that I had collected the girls from to begin with.

I picked her up and carried her to the front door.

Her father answered the door and upon seeing me with his unconscious daughter, his heart broke, tears welling in his eyes.

Without a word I handed his daughter to him and left.

I left the house trembling. The emotion of the moment was just too strong. I called it a night and lost $300.

I wonder how many other girls I have seen lying by the side of the road almost comatose?

How many have I seen staggering up laneways or through parklands where I would fear to tread?

Sometimes it’s like the night of the living dead out there, with bodies lurching everywhere from corner to corner.

I’ve driven down Main North Rd and seen drunk guys staggering home and watched girls wandering alone through suburban streets at 3am or 4am.

OUR binge drinking culture is out of control, and unfortunately it says a lot about the state of our society.

I think of the hospital staff and the police who have to help those people who think one more drink is never enough.

As a taxi driver you have to be on your guard all the time. People are unpredictable – binge drinkers more so. A simple misplaced word can earn you a punch in the head, even if you are a woman.

I’ve never been bashed in a taxi. I’ve been threatened a few times – nothing physical, just verbal threats – but I know others who have been less fortunate.

By the time I decided to work part-time instead of full-time last year, my nerves were shot.

I was tense all the time, on edge and even a slight friendly tap on the shoulder would make me jump.

There’s a really seedy underbelly to Adelaide, a really angry violent culture, and it manifests itself in the binge drinking.

Avel Aretas is a taxi-driver with seven years’ experience. He worked full-time night shift until seven months ago, when he changed to part-time driving.

source: Sunday Mail

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