The Day I Stopped Traffic

For the avoidance of doubt, I have to first set the context. Investment services are essentially a wealth economy whose primary currency is trust. As such, most of us as service providers rely on relationship networks. I actually position my business on the basis of mutual values with my network community. But this is something I found to often go untested or validity beyond our “values statements” on our websites… predominantly because of the tall poppy syndrome. In either case, I wanted to express my humanity as a test of my values by sharing an experience that occurred last week: the day I stopped traffic!

I’m Australian but I am also African. And these are not duties I take lightly serving both battalions. Last week I was heading to a meeting in South Melbourne via Flinders Street Station… a Melbourne icon. It was a wet winter day, the city was busy and miserable. My eye caught the attention of a fellow African sister who seemed to be struggling getting up the station stairs. I looked at her to make contact but I didn’t immediately get a response so I initially thought… “well Taf, you’ve done your civic duties, your ancestors will not turn on you, now off you go”. But a feeling in my heart asked me to explicitly check in with her. I ignored this “values” voice in my head but his or her voice escalated. I was beginning to get the sense I was doing the wrong thing by not turning back and putting myself on the line of duty.

You see, there were some “rationale” demons in my head that I had to conquer. Inquiries from the diversity integrity board; was it right that I wanted to help only because she is African in appearance? Was I undermining her gender equality by seeking out a damsel to rescue? What if I embarrassed myself? But from the demons of hell arouse an angel… I kid you not, it was my mother’s voice saying “never tire in doing good”. So I pulled myself together and approached the young lady. I initiated by seeking her consent to talk and then assist. She was in excruciating pain in her leg. She needed a cab immediately. I instructed her to stop there in the middle of Flinders Street right in between Swanston and Elizabeth, while I ran to the taxi rank on Swanston to get a cab. You should have seen the look on her face, she couldn’t believe I would stop my day to do this for her. 

Before I ran too far, a taxi turned into Flinders from Swanston outbound. I flagged him down and the driver flashed his lights. In the middle of peak traffic, I led him to where the young lady was and right there I super-bossedly instructed him to stop till I got her into the cab. What a guy for just rolling with it! The cars behind him started piling up, anxieties and or irritation began to escalate. And you can only imagine all the stereotypical non-diversity complaint things that were being said about this poor cab driver of an ethnic group that most would not hesitate to criticise in that situation. I will not validate this by even mentioning which. The “values Senate” kicked in. This time my late father’s voice, “you cannot let this honest and good man take the fall for your heroics, your ancestors will not let you sleep another peaceful night!”

Damn, so now I had to make things right by the ancestors. I theatrically took the young ladies crutches after I had sat in the cab. I walked up to the other cars like a busker waving around the crutches and shouting “just calm down it’s a medical emergency”.

Blood was rushing up fast all through my internals, this was the peak of Adrenalin! I returned the crutches, closed the door and tapped the roof (in my head I said “yo homie, smell you later”…) And like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, there was a freshness in the air as I walked away. I had actually done something for someone else (as far as stopping traffic) for no gain whatsoever!

Now, of course, I will be charging all my clients, but that’s the guy you are dealing with, the guy with traffic-stopping value and persuasive ancestry!