It was just after dinner at the end of April. I had prepared dinner as usual for my mother at her apartment, and I was walking home along the deserted and darkened street smoking my post-prandial cigarette when a paddy wagon drove around the corner in front of me. I had stopped to let the car - I could not see any distinguishing features of it from that distance - go past me on the street before I crossed the road.
As I was approaching my apartment block the paddy wagon pulled up at the kerb beside me and I turned around and approached the policemen as they were getting out of it. One of the men came to my right and the younger man stepped lightly to my left. They were both facing me when the younger man asked me if I was smoking marijuana. No, I said, showing him the cigarette butt in my fingers, it's a Marlboro. They stood there looking at the cigarette.
The older, shorter man to my right then asked me why I had sweat on my shirt. "I have been cooking dinner for my mother and myself," I answered. "Why would that make you sweat," he replied. "Because it's hot," I said. He looked away from me briefly and then said Ok. I guessed that their interrogation was over. "Take care," said the older man as he and his partner got back into their car. I turned around and walked home.
I immediately wrote down what had happened and started researching how to complain about police harassment, which this clearly was. It happened that at that time, just before the time when I was to give up freelance journalism - writing for other magazines - that I had a bit of a straggly beard because I had not shaved for some weeks. It wasn't a nice look, I admit, but I don't think that having a beard meant that I should have been profiled as a druggie by the Queensland Police. I found by looking at the internet that in order to complain you have to contact the police station head in the first instance. but since I thought that I might need the police in future in case my downstairs neighbour started playing loud music again, I decided not to complain.
I sat on my humiliation for almost three years, until today. Now, with this blogpost, I have decided to publicly express my unhappiness at my treatment at the hands of the Queensland Police. They behaved disgracefully with me, and subjected me to unnecessary humiliation for no reason. Here was I, a middle-aged man caring for his elderly mother, being accused of smoking drugs on a public street. And then accused of God-knows-what else with the implication that I was trying to escape from something and therefore had sweat on my shirt as a result.
No wonder I got out of Queensland as soon as I could. It is this small-mindedness that irritates me the most about the place. In public authorities this small-mindedness translates into a suspiciousness that everyone is breaking the law or the rules. Good riddance to Queensland!