It seems to be somewhat disconcerting that events most unique and bizarre always seem to have a habit of finding their way into my lap.
Damo arrived back in Sydney last night from PNG for a conference. He was staying at a hotel in the city and the plan was for me to crash over so we could get breakfast together in the morning, and get our suit fitting done for his wedding in Jan.
It was about midnight when I finally arrived in the city. Given that it was still prime clubbing time on a Saturday night, available street parking was impossible to find, and I really didn’t want to pay $55 to park in the hotel overnight. Boy would I come to regret that decision.
After doing a lap of the city with no luck, I ended up back in Castlereagh St. As I was cruising on down the st I spotted an empty spot. I couldn’t believe my luck. And so I proceeded to parallel park my car in the spot. As I adjusted the car, I suddenly felt a slight thump and a clamour of voices. Awww crap… I knew instantly what it was. I had forgotten about the damn tow bar again.
I was driving my parents car which had a tow bar attached. Something of which I wasn’t used to and kept forgetting about. As I had reversed, the tow bar had hit the licence plate of the car behind me.
The moment I exited the car this private security guy in a black suit, or a bouncer, asked me right away for my drivers licence. I figured, ok, no big deal. I’ll just leave my details and we’ll both be on our way. The only damage was that his licence plate was just a little bent, that’s it. How wrong I was… oh how wrong I was.
Within a few seconds, a bunch of Asian dudes appeared out of no where and were clustering around the car I had hit. When they did this, the bouncer immediately pulled me to the side and said “Shit… whatever you do, stay calm. Don’t lose it.”. He then proceeded to reassure me that everything was going to be okay.
This Asian dude in a white suit with a bright glittery shirt underneath called me over and told me to inspect the damage with him. He said it was his bosses car, that it was a brand new Mercedes, and that we need to sort this out. He said he owned a body shop and that he will tell me how much I needed to pay to sort this out. He made a call to his boss and then got back to me.
From my perspective, I thought great. He would know that this would cost almost nothing to repair. No scratches, no fender damage whatsoever, just a minor dent on the licence plate. Simple. But then he started to quote all these figures that seemed completely out of proportion. I started to question him and say that maybe I should go through insurance so as for the so called damage to be properly evaluated.
At this, the bouncer quickly interrupted and asked if he could speak to me. He took me aside and told me that it was in my best interests to sort this out on the spot. The bouncer was actually really nice. A really nice guy, and I could see that he was really worried. He told me that these are not the people to mess with, are heavily connected, and are basically involved in all sorts of unsavoury things.
When he said that, I turned around and took a good look at the entire picture. Oh fuck. A few of Asian guys standing around dressed in black suits and black t-shirts. A couple of girls handing around them in glam dresses and smoking cigarettes, and all of them looking between the car and me. The area of which they were standing, was beside some sort of entrance that led downstairs to a place I couldn’t see.
There were no lights to indicate that it was a club, or bar, or anything at all. Just a strip of carpet to mark it, and private security out front. The car I had hit was parked right in front of the entrance. It was a Merc, didn’t catch what model, with the licence plate “Hot 1″. Now this situation was very disconcerting.
I explained to the bouncer that they were telling me that they wanted $500 to repair this. To sort it all out right now. This was insane as a) I don’t have $500 in cash and b) it will not cost anywhere near that to repair this. He said he understood but because I seemed like a nice guy, he’s trying to help me get out of this situation as smoothly as possible.
In retrospect, he probably just didn’t want any trouble because he would then have to become involved. Police reports, witness reports, etc, if I got the shit beaten out of me. He explain that $500 is not much given the bigger picture. He was telling me about how much he last recently at a casino, how much he blew on his Japanese girlfriend whom is leaving him for some Asian dude, etc. He said that basically, money is just money. These guys can, and likely will, make things very hard for me if I make things hard for them.
I’ve lived in Australia long enough to know that Asian gangs here are serious. I was at Chapel St when that guy was hacked up by machetes in the middle of the intersection in front of everyone, and I’ve seen people with weapons chasing others through Cabramatta. They are psychos and you just don’t fuck with them. The bouncer mentioned to me that he understands the situation, but it’s all about face and respect. That’s just the way they are. I agreed. Asians and their whole fucking obsession with face.
I eventually relented for the sake of just getting this over with, and getting out in one piece. The bouncer escorted me to the closest ATM whilst the guy in the white suit trailed us on his phone. All the while, the bouncer and I were just talking. He looked really worried and was basically trying to put me at ease. For me, as much as I was very uncomfortable, I wasn’t actually scared. I mean, I was never aggressive. I had apologised profusely to White suit, and showed nothing but respect. I only questioned his so called cost evaluation.
The bouncer returned my licence to me. I also notice then that he had resisted giving it to White suit. Bouncer had instantly asked me for my licence the moment I exited the car, and when White suit asked him multiple times for my licence, Bouncer just kept saying that it’s okay, he had it, never giving it to him. I’d like to think that he was doing that to protect me, as he did really seem like a genuine and sincere guy. Bouncer wasn’t Asian btw, he was some big brown-skinned fella from a place I didn’t know.
After I withdrew the money, we went back to White suit. I gave him the money and apologised again. Once he had the money, he said the boss wanted to see me. He walked me back to the where the event took place, and walked down the stairs. At this point I hesitated. Tthe Asian guys in the black suits told me to follow him and gestured towards the stairs.
Okay, I have to admit, I was started to get very intimidated at this point. All the gangster movies I’ve seen started to come to mind. Fingers getting broken, heads getting kicked in, people just getting roughed up. As much as I was sure this wasn’t going to happen, given that I’ve been nothing but polite, well… you never know.
And so I took a deep breath, clenched my sphincter, and walked on down. The stairs went down and turned a corner, leading me into a bar of sorts. An empty bar save for the bartendar and another couple of girls in glamour dresses. The layout was long and narrow. With the bar at one end, and long u shaped lounges and tables lining the wall down to the other end. There were some small rooms on the other wall which I can only guess are for karaoke or gambling. The only 2 people there, the 2 girls, looked at me.
White suit walked back to me and beckoned me to follow him right to the end of the place where there was a silver door that stood out from the rest. He told me to wait while he went in. A few seconds later, he opened the door again and asked me to enter as well. I didn’t want to. I looked behind me and saw the 2 guys in black suits just standing there, blocking my way, gesturing for me to enter. Bouncer was behind them and earnestly said “Just apologise”.
And so I went in. It was a surreal moment. In fact, the entire situation had been. But this, especially so. The room was a big room with a large TV at the front and a long wall of couches at the back. You can think of it as a big karaoke room I guess. The couches were filled with girls. There must have been 10-15 girls all dressed in those cheap glam dresses. And amongst those girls, was the boss man. A big fat dude laying back on the couch with a girl pressed up against him on both sides, flanked by many more.
The man in the white suit had all the stereotyped body language of the errand boy that you see in movies. Nodding and bowing before his boss, speaking quickly and shortly, and just looking like someone that is all too eager to please, but yet is afraid, of his superior. White suit was talking and pointing at me whilst all the girls were staring.
I quickly started to apologise, profusely, and after looking at me for a bit, the boss got up and walked over. He extended his hand and I shook it. I apologised some more. He told me it was all okay. White suit then gestured for me to leave the room.
On the way out, it seemed that the bouncer was almost as relieved as I was. He had previously hinted before that he had seen these guys do some nasty things, and that’s why he’s urging me to settle this and leave as quickly as possible. When we exited the club, he told me to just relax, and not to think of the money. To just let it go and to please not even think of “calling (my) friends”. I know what he means, I know how the system works, I’ve seen enough bloody gang fights play out in my city, and I reassured him that I’m not that sorta guy. I’m just one innocent guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, who had a fucking tow bar, and was a little careless.
Before I left, White suit gave me his business card of which he used as a receipt. The business card was for an auto shop that they said they owned. He wrote down “$500 paid” on it and gave it to me. The business, FYI, was *removed* Auto Repairs.
Looking back, in some ways, I’m glad for the experience as that’s what life is all about. Experiences. But more than anything, I’m just so sore and angry about that fucking $500. I’m sore and angry at myself for being such a careless idiot when I parked, that I forgot, again, about that damn tow bar. And I was sore and angry that we have fucking gangs like thing plaguing our city, and almost every city around the world.
Being the victim of extortion aside, I guess one could see the whole thing as slightly comical. There were so many stereotypes from those Asian gangster movies that appeared here. The flashy errand boy covered in bling who brown-noses his boss. The typical Asian guys dressed all in black. The multitude of hostesses or girls in glam dresses that fill this places. The karaoke rooms. The big fat boss man. And the fact that they own a chop shop, sorry, auto repair shop. That really was the icing on the cake.
So an adventurous night, though expensive one, it truly was. To the cops, please go raid that *removed* Auto Repair place. I hope they find some stolen or rebirthed cars. As expensive as $500 is, I guess it’s not everyone one gets to see the inside of an Asian gang hidey hole. To see the girls, to meet the boss. When I look at it that way, $500 doesn’t seem so bad after all.
Actually fuck you rotten cunts… give me my $500 back!!