The Scourge: The Greatest Tragedies Happen In Combination With Alcohol

Interview with A Policeman Weary Of Dealing With Drunk Offenders
Cluj Napoca, Romania
June 20, 2011

From our p.o.v. alcohol is never the cause of an incident. The cause of the accident, if we refer to traffic accidents, according to the penal code is violating the right of way, speeding, so on. But alcohol can be a complementary cause, but not per se. Being under the influence impairs the driving ability, but you can drive while drunk and arrive at the destination without causing any accidents.
Regarding violence, be it intra-familial, be it inter-personal, the most often we have spontaneous conflicts, and not conflict situations that extend for long periods of time. Most aggressions are committed following spontaneous conflicts that often are based on alcohol consumption. After they get drunk together—we can see this when we follow the news presenting certain cases, situations—they remember some debts they have, some unsolved problems. Often this occurs after they drank together, and then they start making various reproaches, and based on this spontaneous conflict combined with alcohol, they end up perpetrating heavy offenses and violence, with the most severe consequences, extreme body injuries, even homicide.
Back to traffic accidents, we conduct inspections, campaigns, and activities on alcohol theme. For example during weekends, practically every weekend, in cities, be it Cluj or other cities, like Huedin, we have activities on the topic of alcohol consumption prevention, targeting especially areas where night clubs are located, that are visited frequently, which have many clients, who clearly come by car, not by taxi. So these actions aim at discouraging alcohol consumption, especially for those driving, because usually they come in groups of friends and at least knowing that these actions are made, they become accustomed to our presence, since we don’t conduct them once in six months, but weekly, so we’re practically trying to discourage alcohol consumption. Unfortunately these do not always have the targeted effect, since we always catch/detected drivers who are under the influence.
Some have a concentration higher than 0.008, in blood stream translates to almost double, which means approximately 1.6 alcohol in blood which is very high. At this alcohol level clearly the ability to concentrate is affected and the reflexes are slowed down, even the visual sense is affected, you start seeing double, you can’t anticipate the distance from a possible obstacle that can obstruct your way, be it a car, be it a pedestrian that can appear on the roadway or crosses legally at the zebra/crosswalk, clearly your senses are affected once you consume alcohol.
And if you go over 0.008, well… We don’t have a legal limit. If it’s under 0.004 is classified as an infringement/offense/contravention, the driver’s license is confiscated, what reaches over 0.004 is considered an offense, what is over 0.008 is clearly an offense. If you test 0.001 you automatically take the individual to a biological testing. Sure, he can refuse to take the test, and then a penal file is filed in for biological test refusal. He blows in the ethylotest, the electronic device, that prints out on the spot a paper with name, first name, date, so on, including the concentration he shows electronically, whatever it is detected. Say if it detected 0.008, if it’s 0.86 it reads 0.86, 0.40 then it’s 0.40, and in the presence of a witness, at least one witness, not the policeman.
This is where we have a problem: the policeman doesn’t have the quality of witness in our system. From my p.o.v. this is a very big problem, because the policeman is not a witness of what he has established. So you have to request the support of another citizen that is in the immediate are, in the traffic. Usually our colleagues resort to call upon the taxi drivers that work in the area, or other persons that could be witnesses, but it is a problem because people don’t rush to be witnesses, to be summoned in court, to testify what they saw when that driver was tested with the ethylotest device.
After the device report comes out, it has to be signed by the witness and policeman and the individual is informed about the result of the ethylotest device. If it’s over 0.004, the person is taken to the hospital emergency room to have biological samples taken, blood, and the samples are filed, they get analyzed, and when the results are in we see if there is an infraction, or an offense and the penalties are applied with the suspension of the right to drive for 3 months, 90 days. The blood test results aren’t released on the spot, that’s why if it’s over 0.004 you wait for the results to see if we’re talking offense or contravention. The driver’s license is withheld; he is given the proof and he is not permitted to drive.
From there he travels by taxi, or someone else is called, the driver makes arrangements to take the car home, but he doesn’t have the right to get behind the wheel from that moment on, his license being suspended.
In America the policeman has the witness quality. He is summoned in court to testify as witness. He goes and takes the oath and his word is taken into consideration in court. Unfortunately, I think this is a huge problem, maybe other colleagues don’t, but I think it’s a huge problem that we can’t be witnesses of what we observed.
This is not something that our new democracy brought about. It always has been like this, neither I, nor some of my colleagues who’ve already retired know or have heard of any period of time in which we had the right to be a witness. I don’t know how it used to be during the interwar period, or during after the war period when the soviet system intervened. I’m sure that when legal changes are considered at ministry level, suggestions are made thru the traffic police department, but I don’t know how much they are taken into consideration by those who vote the law in the end. This is a problem at central level, at ministry level. All I know is that we were asked, each county was asked to forward our suggestions, but how many of them, after they are compiled made it thru, or if that suggestion was taken into consideration at all, I couldn’t say.
We don’t have statistics regarding how many drivers had their license suspended for driving under the influence, or inebriated. Maybe the traffic department has the statistics, but we, as the prevention department, we collaborate with them in various initiatives.
For example a few years ago we had an initiative to prevent accidents on three national roads which are and were considered the criminogen arteries/highways with the highest traffic accident rates, and with severe injuries and fatalities, one of them being on the DN1 that transits Cluj County, from the border with Alba County to the border of Bihor County.
For a few months we had many interventions in which police workers with the cooperation of to traffic police, and the prevention structures from Alba and Bihor, we organized interventions at the county border, in which together with the traffic workers we stopped drivers and gave out prevention literature, we made recommendations, and we realized many of them interpret the law whimsically, by ear, whichever way it crosses their mind.
Often on basic things, like if the law says that when you drive on a national road, we had DN1 in our case, you have to drive with your parking/meeting lights on. In a different law it is written that it is not mandatory to drive with your meeting lights on within localities. They considered that if they are within localities—well, in our country all national roads go thru localities—they’d “Phooey, phooey, I’m within a locality! It’s not mandatory!” They do this out of spite, to contradict authority, the police in this case, that has prerogatives of control in this area and to show off that you won’t obey the law because you are in a locality and the law says that!
You end up leading discussions over fundamental logic and common sense things, and respect that you give yourself first of all as a car driver, and who has self-respect and also you show respect to the other traffic participants. This rule is to make you more visible in the traffic, so the others can see you are moving, you’re not stationary, and you show off and contradict the traffic worker because you feel like it, you flex your muscles and show off that you argued with the policeman, that you are within a locality! So the law doesn’t count. So what if I am on DN1 when I am within the locality?! These are things that eventually are the result of basic education, common sense, respect, both for yourself, for what you represent when you drive, and for the other driver with which at a certain moment you intersect, cross paths in traffic.
Even here in this city, it is a horror to see how they speed by! The legal speed within localities is 50 kilometers per hour as a rule. On certain sections of road these limits can be raised, to 60, or 70 with the approval of the local administration council. I don’t know how much would that be in miles. It’s unbelievable what happens here in Cluj. There were situations during night if I remember exactly the speed record for which a license was suspended was 126, if I’m not mistaken, downtown Cluj.
Alright, I understand, it’s night, the road is freer, but still to go with 126 within a locality, when at any time a taxi driver, or a pedestrian can come in front of you, at that speed no matter what car you have, it’s hard to avoid an accident. An unexpected situation can arise, and you destroy, pulverize the other one and then you say,
Man, it was bad luck!
There is a problem from this p.o.v.. We as nation, how we relate to and blame it on the Divinity and shrug, Well, man, he wasn’t lucky. It was Fate. This is it. Nobody says, He drove with excessive speed! He engaged in a risky, unlawful overtaking! He was weaving, slaloming between cars, instead of adapting to traffic!
Indeed it’s frustrating… The road infrastructure in Romania is awful, in shambles, null, and indeed, if you abide by the legal speed limit from Cluj to Bucharest, almost 500 kilometers, you’ll laugh your head off! You might leave today at 10 and arrive only tomorrow at 10! Indeed it’s a big problem, but still, you can’t risk and endanger the lives of innocent people just because you are in a hurry, and that’s about it, you are in a hurry. Or you trespass the law because you think you have connections in high places and you can do whatever you want on the road.
But back to traffic accidents in which the drivers were under the influence: I remember last year in September an accident on the alternative road that connects Zori District with Mănăştur District, four youngsters in a vehicle Coda Octavia, Diesel engine 1-9, a very powerful car, the young man at the wheel had just turned 18, along with two boys and two girls, spent the night club hopping, were headed for another club, drinking alcoholic beverages all night, including the driver, and they went from Mănăştur to Zori. It rained during the night, the roadway surface was wet, and at the so called hairpin turns, very tight turns, he lost control of the wheel, he violently stepped on the brakes in an effort to stop, the car’s front wheels stopped on the roadway, and the car pivoted and hit a pole at the edge of the road with its left side.
The girl who was in the back seat on the left died in a few hours because of the severe wounds she incurred. She died at the hospital in spite of the doctors’ efforts. The injuries she suffered were incompatible with life, even if she was still alive as she had arrived in the hospital. They sawed her out with jaws of life, those from ISU, when they pried her out of the wreckage she was still alive, but it was clear the injuries were incompatible with life threatening.
Of course in this case alcohol consumption, combined with excessive speed, was the cause, but there is another issue, not from legal p.o.v., but from moral p.o.v.: the recklessness, lack of responsibility, in the end I call it stupidity, I don’t want to offend anyone saying it is stupidity, but in the end it is the stupidity of parents who buy their children—parents that can afford it, of course we’re not talking about parents who can’t afford it, but there are people who can afford it—and who buy their children at 18 year old extremely powerful cars. They are beginners, they don’t have experience behind the wheel, they are under the impression that the world is at their foot! It must be at their foot because they have powerful cars, they take risks, unnecessary risks, and from here all kind of tragedies appear. Statistically the fact has been proven, and not only in Romania, but at the worldwide level, the 18-25 years old age group causes, being guilty in traffic accidents is the largest.
That’s exactly the youths that are aggressive in traffic, who are often indolent, are brazen, cheeky, insolent, have the audacity, impudence to not respect the rules. Young people as a rule are predisposed to disobeying rules, practically that’s how we all are when we’re young, we have the tendency to disobey certain rules that we consider useless or antiquated. But regarding traffic safety, this combination of a powerful car, lack of experience behind the wheel, if we adding alcohol consumption, it’s often a lethal combination.
The young man that was the driver suffered only light wounds as a result of the accident. A penal file was made for homicide out of guilt and driving under the influence of alcohol. I don’t know what was the verdict, and if any verdict has been given by now, because here too, from legal p.o.v., the law allows all kinds of tricks and stratagems, to draw out the time. Expertise against expertise, postponements and so on, so in many cases a sentence in such cases comes in two, three years after the date of the accident.
I remember from this p.o.v. an accident that had extremely severe consequences, six youths in a vehicle, very powerful again, a BMW, who were coming from a party, a birthday party. It is fashionable to videotape the dashboard with the phone cam, to show what speed you can reach, then post the image on YouTube. This is exactly what happened in that case. They came from Apahida, by the airport, at very high speed, music blasting, they all encouraged the driver to step on the gas, as the youngsters say it, step on the brake to the maximum, that’s what it means in their jargon.
When they passed by the airport there is a 90 degree turn in front of the Ambient supermarket. The turn is 90 degree. The driver realized too late that he reached that turn and he had to jam on the breaks, he tried to make a right turn, in spite of that he lost control, and skid sideways and hit a pole, and then from opposite direction, he hit another pole. The BMW practically broke into two pieces. If I’m not wrong, we had four dead, two young men survived with severe wounds. What was even sadder than the fact that four youngsters lost their lives and two were severely wounded, was that a family lost both their children in that accident.
It’s often beyond understanding how people, be they young or not, place their lives in the hands of someone who drank elbow to elbow with them, at the same table. And after that, I revisit the same idea of how we relate to Fate. When during our road traffic safety activities we’re discussing in high schools, with young people, so often we hear from them the expression, Fate! used somehow in derision, If they were losers/suckers, this was their Fate! Without anybody saying, it never happened when I’d give such examples, Man, they shouldn’t have got into the car with him in his state, they shouldn’t have… They think it’s normal to drink and then… They take this as being something natural. This was their Fate! They had rotten bad luck they hit the pole! But when you drink elbow to elbow and you reach 150, 180 km per hour because the engine allows it, there’s no question of Fate, but it’s a question of recklessness, irresponsibility, even stupidity, this on one hand, and on the other hand we are talking about the irresponsibility of those who get into the car when the driver drank at the same party or in a club with them at the same table, together! The driver drank elbow to elbow with them, or maybe even more than those whom he offers transportation to! But still we get into the car with him! We put our live in his hands!
It is incomprehensible to me; it’s beyond my comprehension!
They also inherited this behavior. Categorically. During our prevention activities we address from kindergarten children to high schoolers, and even college students when the occasion arises, and we discuss the topic of traffic safety, and it is shocking how many children, kindergarten or primary school kids, because at this age kids are still very sincere and very open, don’t have the tendency to hide things. They also don’t really understand the severity of the situation, and so they are very open and very voluble, so many children tell us how their parents drink when they go to the countryside with the car and come back from the grandparents, and how much plum brandy did daddy drink, how much beer did daddy drink the day he drove the car and no-thing happened! As a parent you clearly shaped your child to think that this is also permissible, it’s okay. So if this is how I raise my child, then this is how he will behave/do.
I myself had discussions with my oldest son, who is now 16 years old. He wanted a motoscooter. “Alexander, you can’t have a motoscooter because the law says that only when you’re 16 years old, you’re allowed to ride a motorscooter. And only after you take a road traffic test.” “Yes, but my classmates have motoscooters!” And indeed he was in eighth grade and he had a classmate that received as a gift from his parents as he was an eighth grader now, he received as a gift a motoscooter when school started! The child wasn’t even 14 years old! Well if I, as a parent, I buy the child a scooter when he is 14, you can’t convince me you bought it so he keeps it in the garage for two more years! Nobody is that absurd! You bought it so he rides it! And I as parent disobey the law and I teach him he can disobey the law without any problem! I bought it because I want to and I give it to you, my child, and go ride your motoscooter thru town! So then, of course later on he will disobey the law. And he will take his parents’ car and drive without a license, and so on, will drink when he is behind the wheel. He won’t respect others on the road, and so on!
Older persons driving under the influence? Let me think, let me see if I remember anything… Yes, I remember a situation with a driver who was found in traffic, he was so drunk that he couldn’t… he drove in first gear! He couldn’t shift, so drunk he was, he was heading just straight ahead. He had no clue where he was going, where he was living. I remember they took him to the police station. This happened downtown, during night. Afterwards we found out he left home around noon, to get his wife out of the hospital, who was released that day. He took the car and met some friends and started drinking, and it got late, it was already towards dawn, around two o’clock in the morning when he was found in traffic. It was not even hard to notice him, because the car being in first gear was obviously noticeable, plus its weaving in and out of traffic. Luckily the traffic was slow at that time, he didn’t hit another car or a pole or a pedestrian since they weren’t any around, it was very cold, it was winter, and I remember my colleagues, the policemen who detained him, kept him about half an hour, in the cold, it was more than minus 20 degrees that winter, until it sobered him up a bit out of the alcohol fumes, and he remembered what his name was, where he lived, and that he didn’t know where he was going, he was driving actually in the opposite direction from his domicile, but he couldn’t tell why he was heading that way. Only afterwards, when he got in touch with the family, to pick up the car, he had to leave there.
At that time mobile phones were not that widespread, but anyway at the degree of alcohol he had I don’t think he’d hear the mobile phone [Laughs] or would have been capable of answering it.
Luckily this was a case without consequences. He didn’t harm anybody, he didn’t kill anybody, neither himself, nor anybody else. But he was one of the rare cases without consequences due to policemen intervention and the cooperation of another driver. The police patrol was informed by a taxi driver that there is a driver who… And he reported the car color, the license plate number and the moving direction. They managed to stop him in the traffic. He didn’t stop voluntarily, but one of the policemen had to jump, he opened the car door while moving, and jumped in the car and stopped the engine, since he was not capable, he couldn’t see, didn’t see the policemen who signaled him, so deep was his inebriation. And he was an elder, he was retired. You’d think, well, a grandfather, you’d think he’d be more responsible, but look, they too commit... Still, the older driver is prone to be more responsible, that’s a certitude, but still there are in this population segment such situations too.
I remember now a situation I lived thru myself, a collision accident. I managed to avoid frontal collision when I saw the car moving sinuously/wounding and skidding, side sliding. When I talked with the vehicle driver I felt he smelled of alcohol, but when my colleagues arrived and tested both of us with the ethylotest device, my first reaction when I saw the 0.86 on the ethylotest device, my first personal reaction was, since I talked to the driver who yes, drank but he was coherent, walked straight without staggering on his feet, smells of alcohol, but no other signs, was to ask my colleague from the traffic police if his device was working properly! Was it broke by any chance? But when I blew in it, it showed zero, and I knew I didn’t consume so there was no way anything else would show up, I was convinced that the device was working perfectly! In blood he tested 1.36!
My colleagues told me they knew him. He had his license revoked because of alcohol consumption, but that didn’t stop him from further driving. He had it revoked for a year. He was caught in a six month period twice under the influence behind the wheel and his license was revoked, but he never went again to take a driver’s training course, to obtain a new license, no, he simply drove along without anything, and when the collision happened, it was on DN1C towards Apahida locality. My colleagues from that precinct knew him, “Man, this is how he always drives.” For them it was not a surprise that this man drove being so utterly drunk.
When we had the collision, he took advantage that it was December 30
th, that period between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I really don’t know what was in his mind when he got behind the wheel, I couldn’t say he had done this before, especially that he knew that the policemen knew him and were they to see him behind the wheel would have pulled him on the right, and would have filed a penal case, since his license was already revoked, but he took the risk, and then on the grounds of excessive speed, at a turn his wheels exited the roadway and caught a bid of mud, it was milder weather, it was not frozen, the car lost control and started to skid, lost its grip and my luck was that I was watchful enough and I managed to avoid him by abruptly veering to the right, and he caught only my left back door. He crushed the left rear wheel and fender, wrecked it to bits.
None of us got injured, though I was with my wife and our two children in the car, my smallest had a year and a bit, so he could have crushed us all. My eldest son who was 7, 8 years old got very scared. He saw the accident, he saw the car coming towards us, the smaller one was sleeping on the back seat, he didn’t realize anything, but the eldest was so scared I needed a good few minutes to quiet him down. Fortunately nothing happened to us, nor the other driver, who again was in the car with a friend who was as drunk as he was.
I don’t know how this all ended, because before suing him I said in my declaration that I don’t claim any damages because his brother paid for my car repairs. He was insured, but the insurance companies don’t compensate for any damages since he was both drunk behind the wheel and his license was revoked. And so I would have had to repair my car on my own money and sue him if he doesn’t pay me back, but he paid it and being the holiday season, his brother who worked in Italy, the man settled there, he came with his family and he pleaded with me that he’d pay the car repairs, everything, just to drop the matter because his brother was in a terrible situation, he was unemployed, he didn’t have money, he lost his job when his license was revoked, so, alright, I won’t file any claims, having in mind that none of us suffered injuries. He had a small girl himself, a two-year-old, his brother explained the situation to me, and I said, “Man, I don’t have any claims, what can I do with him? Sue him for emotional damages?! No, man. If you repair my car, I thank God we are all alright.”
This was my personal experience with drunk driving.
And to come back to violence, to intra-personal, intra-familial conflicts, pertaining to domestic violence, though statistically, because legislation has large deficiencies from that p.o.v.. There is a law regarding domestic violence but it has large, large loopholes. When we deal with domestic violence it’s always combined with alcohol consumption. Usually arguing arises because of money scarcity, and the husband, who’s the aggressor, in spite of the lack of money he also consumes alcohol. That’s when the arguing starts and it ends with aggression perpetrated on t partner. In 99% of cases we are talking about the husband aggressing the wife and children.
Under the influence of alcohol the husband remembers that he has to be authoritative, the wife has to be submissive, submit to him, damn it, the children have to obey him, but he remembers this only when he’s drunk. It starts with the reproach of the wife or children that he squanders the little money they have on drinking. We even had a few years ago a murder, the woman was stabbed, with several knife wounds, it was a murder that shook up the Cluj community at that time, the ferocity of the stabs, he didn’t stop, he stabbed dozens of times. The two spouses started arguing. He had consumed alcohol. They were simple people, they lived in an apartment building, I don’t know what was their education level, I was younger at that time, I was at the beginning of my career, but I remember, it stayed with me. I believe it was one of the first murders that I heard of since I worked on the Cluj police force. I wasn’t on that case, I never worked on a homicide case, the structures I worked within didn’t have under their jurisdiction this kind of perpetrations, but I worked on cases involving domestic violence and always the alcohol was part of the combination.
Often it all started from jealousy, the husband, the aggressor husband was also jealous, though in most cases he had no reason to be, because discussing with the respective families to help them overcome these moments of violence, in some cases the woman turns to the police to intervene. And then we’d try to somehow mediate the situation, and often we realized the jealousy was unfounded. But when consuming alcohol a jealous man is predisposed to jealousy, he automatically he finds proof and reasons confirming that his partner is cheating, he makes them up, invents them, he sees in everything a proof, and you can’t derail him from his belief that his partner is unfaithful. But at the same time if he believes things are such, he doesn’t choose to get a divorce, to go his own way, no, he prefers to be violent, to persist in his alcohol consumption, and to submit his life partner and his children to violence.
We also had cases of domestic violence perpetrated by children against their parents, usually we are dealing with children that were spoiled, cocooned in down, so to speak, we’re always talking about families with extremely large, or above average incomes, but children to whom the family never imposed any rules, and they did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, children that slipped into alcohol consumption starting with adolescence, and when they reached adulthood, to be 30, 40 years old, lived on the parents’ pension, who meanwhile retired, and aggressed them when they don’t give them enough money, children that didn’t work, or worked sporadically, for no one keeps drunkards and lazy people on staff and pays them on top of it, and they demanded that their parents should keep them, support them, give them money, and because the parents refused…
In most cases in such situations parents refuse our advice to go and request in civil court the eviction of the child from their living space, they refuse because they loved their child very much and how could they put him on the streets? This was the motivation usually, how can they put their own child in the streets! On the other hand they wanted police intervention but only in that acute/inflamed moment of violence, in that violent episode and would request that no sanctions be taken. Somehow their wish was to somehow give him a good scare, just pretend, dear Lord, to make stop him aggressing them, leave them alone.
We had situations, I remember at least two, three cases, in which we took measures and the parent went and paid the fines. So then the punishment act taken by the policeman of course had no influence, he felt nothing, since his father or mother went to pay the fine, he really was untouched. Even more, it brought grist to his mill, “You went to pay the fine because you felt guilty, because you called the police on me! And they unjustly fined me, that’s why you went to pay the fine!” So then we, as policemen, we practically move in a vicious circle. It is very hard to intervene in such situations; we cannot speak of efficiency, what efficiency? You have no efficiency when the policeman sanctions the perpetrator, who in turn doesn’t pay the fine, but the parent pays it.
Another case I remember about a young boy from an extremely respected family, the mother a doctor, the father an engineer, very well known, with large incomes. The child, imagine that was in 2004, the child had 15 million lei pocket money, that is 1,500 lei today. A high school kid, 17, 18 years old! There are families that have children and don’t earn that money in a month! The kid was discontent! What, was this money enough for him to live on?! To go to night clubs?! How could 15 million lei a month suffice him?! And he was very violent with his parents. Even more, they bought him a car when he was 18 years old.
That kid degraded so much that he couldn’t finish high school, even though he was enrolled at a state school. He was first in a very good school, but because of his absences, he was expelled in 11th grade. This was at a private school paid by his parents, without even touching his pocket money. That was his money! Even more, they gave him a car as gift! That was an enormous amount of money! Even today, to give to a child that kind money! I earn 1,500 a month now! And that kid had that as pocket money 7, 8 years ago! When he was 18 he received a Skoda, Octavia, if I’m not mistaken, which in two, three months he pulverized it, turned it into dust in a traffic accident. Fortunately without victims.
He got into a network of ex-offenders. The accident happened in Făget, at the exit towards Ciurila village. He was with four, or five others, and he was very revolted, angry at the policemen that—I remember I talked to him a lot during that time, I was working then as a prevention policeman, I was informed by someone else about the situation and I got in touch with the family and I tried to… That’s why I know the case very well—he was very angry, revolted on the policemen that they didn’t give him justice, didn’t believe him, that he wasn’t the one driving. Well, if I have four people, even if they are convicted felons, of course from the ethical p. o. v. I can doubt their declarations but I don’t have other witnesses. I have five persons: four who claim that this one drove, and the one who claims that he didn’t drive, but one of those four did. From a legal p.o.v. you can’t prove the one alone is in the right. You can’t. Even if those four were convicted felons, with problems. He was very outraged that the policemen doesn’t believe him, his word should suffice! Oh, well, what can I say. La-dee -dah. But you, who aggress your parents, that after you totaled, pulverized turned to dust your car, you habitually call your father at 2, 3 in the morning for him to come and pick you up from the clubs! And the parent refused and so he came home alone and made a scandal, because his physique was helping him, he had an impressive physique! At the age of 18 he was 1.80 meters tall, almost 1.90, all day long he pumped the irons in the power gyms. He didn’t go to school, he was not stupid, he was not stupid at all, he was not a retarded kid, but he took to this night life style, clubs, discos, and he slept during day, and he went to power gyms. This is the life he desired, since his parents sponsored him, so to speak. They gave him money, children of his age couldn’t afford that, they didn’t have that kind of money every day in their pocket!
I remember he came up with the demand his parents should rent an apartment for him, pay the rent, and the rest he’d take care of with his 15 millions, but his parents should pay the rent! “Why don’t you move out, pay your rent, live and go clubbing too out of that money?!” I told him. “How could I do that?! It’s not enough!” “Well, then how do you take care of it all? How do you fend for yourself then?”
I lost touch with them, but I’m convinced that things didn’t change for the better, certainly not for the family. In the end these are their children after all, good, bad, they are their children, they want to avoid the shame that the world might find out too many things… In the end they didn’t get in touch with me anymore, so I don’t know what happened to that family and that particular child anymore. But in any case if he didn’t recover, no good things could come out of that, because sooner or later, either while being under drug influence, or alcohol influence, somewhere along, as the folk saying goes the thread would tear in the end, no good could come out of that attitude.
As to cases that involved theft, usually these are smaller deeds, lighter deeds, they are petty theft, small potatoes, as we call them, small theft, like a bicycle, a manhole cover, to take iron scraps because they are made of cast iron and they can sell them, though legally it is not allowed, only at certain centers where they record it in a special ledger, showing an ID, but clearly we can’t have a policeman standing nonstop by the scrap iron recycling center door and check on them, so then they take risks and the owners I’m convinced don’t pay the real price, but the thief is happy to get something, so they strike an amiable deal, I don’t snitch on you that you brought me this, but you also don’t grumble that I gave you only this little price…
We also had children that ended up in child care because of child neglect, but I don’t remember this being just because of the mother, but both parents, and the kids were placed in the state’s care or maternal care assistance, after the parents lost their parental rights. Let me think, I don’t want to mix them up…
When I worked as a prevention policeman, I had a children’s center under my responsibility, a boy who was taken out of the family since he was small, both parents alcoholics. He still kept in touch with them, because when he grew up a bit he’d run away from the center and all the time they’d find him at his family, at his parents. He wasn’t adopted or given to foster care, he was still in the placement center, he had behavior difficulties, stemming clearly out of the experience he’s been thru in his family, he himself was very violent with the other kids at the center. He had this mania of stealing from the other kids, though they all received the same things, from school supplies, clothing, footwear, to sweets and so on, he had the habit of stealing. I know I used to discuss it with him often, I’d chastise him, or I’d friendly talk about it with him, depending on his moods, at times you could make him listen to you, other times you had to raise your voice to make him listen, take a more authoritative attitude, but he clearly had traumas on the account of alcohol, the traumatizing experience he had lived with in his family. They were several siblings, the parents had no income, alcoholics, stayed home, lived on the child support. Of course it was insufficient, even now it’s very small, no way it can ensure you a decent living, but the family did all kinds of scrap iron collecting, selling, occasionally they worked, but most of their income went on alcohol consumption.
They lived on Abator/Slaughter House Square, I remember them now, but other cases I don’t recall…
I had a case once that in the end got solved, the woman was—but she didn’t neglect her children, she had five children—she became a Baptist, I don’t know exactly what cult, she converted from Orthodoxy to one of these cults, and in her cult there was no family planning, she’d give birth to as many children as the Lord would give her, and God gave her about five, with the same man, with her husband.
Well, he couldn’t stand the idea that his wife got converted to a Baptist. He started to drink, a great deal at a certain moment, he became violent with her and the children, he’d blame her that she made so many children because she became a Baptist and so on, I remember that… But he won’t let her work. In the end I know that after I gave him a fine after a scandal he made in his family—but his smaller child, I think they ended up with five or six children, but his smallest went to kindergarten with my smallest one, and we’d meet. Of course he didn’t look at me with kind eyes, because he couldn’t forget that I gave him a fine, but he never showed any aggressiveness or ugly verbal violence, but clearly it didn’t stay well with him to see me. But he let her, he reduced the alcohol consumption, I know that because later meeting the woman at the kindergarten I asked her what the situation was, she said it was better, then even better, he didn’t drink anymore, he let her go to work, and things somehow got into a normal flow, reentered normality.
Of course the house was not appropriate for six people, five children and the two of them, seven, they clearly had hardships, but if instead of struggling with those hardships you drown your bitterness and sorrow in drinking, of course you see everything blacker, and of course it was easier for him to say that it was all her fault, because she made so many children, not him, he was guilty of nothing, as if she made them with the Holy Ghost, not with him, but it’s human nature to blame. There is a saying, I don’t know whose it is, that, To make a mistake is human, but to blame it on someone else is even more human. That’s how this family functioned, he was blameless, she was the one to blame, she got pregnant, she is the guilty one, doesn’t want to have an abortion, or whatnot, but in the end, following our discussions, and I know I sanctioned him only once legally, I didn’t give him a fine but once, but slowly, slowly he recovered.
Of course their parents’ support mattered very much, both his and hers, who in the end understood, alright, if this was her decision, to convert to another religion, those children are innocent, their grandchildren, and they intervened and gave them support and I remember once I passed thru the area where they lived and I saw they were renovating the house, they built another room, things started to go better, so in the end it was a success.
Now I don’t know how much of this was due to our intervention, but maybe this contributed too, because after I sanctioned him, the violence episodes lessened clearly, until then seeing that I just argued with him, and didn’t take any other measures, probably he said to himself that Alright, this guy comes, chats and then I do whatever I want. But when I found myself with a complaint filed by his neighbors that he aggressed his wife and made a scandal during that night and so on, and I went and I asked her and she gave me confirmation, and I asked him and he answered me very full of himself, “Yes, so what if I beat her up? So what? So what?!” When I wrote the report, “Sign it.” “No, no, I won’t sign it!” “Well, you don’t even need to sign it, I’ll mail it to you, good bye!” he started to feel that things aren’t quite the way he sees them.
He had clearly consumed alcohol before, but not to that degree. I think that in his case the circle of friends interfered, they probably made fun of him, What kind of man are you if your wife gets converted without your approval and is not submissive! talks like this falling on a weak background, scratching his male vanity, of course he’d go home wanting to show off that he’s the man, he is the one who takes decisions in the house, What’s up, man? You go home? Your wife doesn’t let you drink a beer? Well, the woman, that’s how it says in church, should be submissive to her man! What?! You’re so afraid of your wife that you don’t even stay to drink a beer with us?! And then of course those who are weaker, have weaker angels, go home and pump up their muscles and want to show off that they are men.
Were I to be in front of people on a stage, I’d tell them that the alcohol brings out the worst in people, accelerates the making of the greatest family tragedies. The alcohol highlights what is worst in a man, if you go over the limit. Well, if you drink a glass of wine, a shot of spirit at the table, it’s absolutely normal and doctors even encourage a moderate consumption. If it’s hot, drink a beer, or a shot of brandy at the table, like the French say an aperitif, but that’s all, before it makes you lose your limits, because the greatest tragedies happen in combination with alcohol. In most cases alcohol shows up too.
If each one of us could see this and raise our children respecting each other, I think we’d be spared many tragedies.

New York,
July 18, 2013

Well, here you have it: If you’d like to throw a bit of money my way to keep my endeavors going, and also enable me to spread the money to my various causes, witnessing democracy, freedom of speech and faith, and engineering social change thru art being one of them, I’d be grateful.

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