Sunday, 16 September 2007

the difference between reputation and character

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is who you really are, while your reputation is merely who others think you are.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

mad world #2. APEC

The first week of September is APEC week in Sydney. Bush will be in town; and so will everyone else. And the city has been preparing itself this week for the visiting 21 heads of state ...

... with water cannons; riot police buses; 3 meter high walls erected around the Opera House and vacinity; massive road closures; random police security checks on any person walking in certain areas of the city; military jet planes swooping overhead; soldiers wandering through shopping malls brandishing pretty serous military equipment; ads on TV asking everyone to be "alert"; and the city has been declared a virtual out-of-bounds this coming Friday-Sunday [by declaring Friday a NSW State Holiday].

I know most of this because I work in the city. Right in the middle of the city, on Barrack Street. And when, as per usual, i parked my ute [pick-up] on Barrack Street on Thursday afternoon, I did what I always do; i dropped my car keys in the back of my ute, under the cover [thus hidden from view]. When i returned to my ute 90 minutes later, the keys had been swapped with a note written on 'official' police paper; "report immediately to The Rocks Police Station."

The constable behind the counter knew who i was when i walked in, because i fitted the description. "Middle aged. Shaven head. Olive skin. Blue backpack on your back." And then he said to me, "You fit the description". No shit Sherlock.

Apparently some alert person had spotted me suspiciously park my ute, leave my keys in a suspicious place, walk off suspiciously in a suspicious direction, with a suspicious blue backpack on my back. I also had suspiciously dark skin colour and, as if all this weren't enough, I had two anti-American stickers on my rear window. He called the police, they strip searched my car, and took off with my keys.

I had to make account of myself to the constable on a number of key points 1. what is your name? 2. do you have proof of your ID? 3. is this your correct address? 4. why were you in the city at that time ? 5. what type of work do you do? 6. why did you leave your car keys in such a strange place 7. why do you carry a backpack? 8. why do you have a knife on your key ring? [a tiny, silver 3cm Swiss Army knife]. My answers were recorded in his little black book.

By the end of my interrogation I had been reduced to green alert - of the lowest possible threat to security - and the constable handed me back my car keys. But he had one final word for me before i could walk away a free man. "You DO know it's illegal to carry a knife, sir?" he said. And I, like a scolded little schoolboy, said "Yes", and took the Swiss Army off my key ring.