When you see someone driving drunk do you dob them in? I saw one last week and didn't. I've been feeling bad about it ever since.
One of the key lessens Kiwi kids get taught is 'don't tell tales'. Parents, teachers, brothers and sisters all preach it. It's a good system. Kids shouldn't be dobbing on each other. Mainly because it's an annoying time-waster for mums and dads.
I had three sisters growing up. We really appreciated our parent's blanket no tattle tale rule. We got away with a lot of low-level sibling crime. Food theft, hair pulling and my favourite squeezing out bad smells at close range. Good times.
Obviously the no telling tales rule does not apply to serious crimes. Parents expect you to report murders, assaults and burglaries. That's just common sense. Luckily my sisters never committed any of those crimes. That I know of.
Things get more complicated when you grow up. Across your life, you're bound to see some serious stuff. Stuff you have to report.
Obviously, a witness at a murder trial isn't telling tales. But how do you feel about low-level crimes like lockdown breaches? This kind of 'dobbing in' didn't feel right to many New Zealanders. 'Bloody tattle tales' we thought. We were at least partially right.
Turns out nearly all the tales told weren't breaches. There were 55,401 more breaches lodged than police actions taken. The nation was rife with judgmental kiwi on kiwi dobbing in. Citizen v citizen. Just the kind of time-wasting tale-telling we are warned against as kids.
But back to my original question. Should you dob in drunk drivers when you see them? After all, they could kill themselves or others. Just last week - I didn't.
Driving to work at 5am a green early 2000s SUV is weaving down Great North Road in front of me. He's slowing right down, then speeding up. A light goes red and he skids to a halt just in time. It was like watching a real-life one man anti-drink driving advert just for me.
Strangely it didn't even cross my mind to call the cops. I guess the no tattle tale rule runs deep. The guy has to turn at an intersection. A bus is coming. With all its lights and size.
He still doesn't see it. He turns right in front of it. I think 'This dude is done for'. Time slows. I slam on my brakes keen to stay clear of the impact zone. But the bus driver is sharp.
He skids to a halt a metre from t-boning the man. No one is hurt. It could have been very different. This drunken fool could easily have ended up dead. He could have killed other people. He could still. He could be a long way from his destination. He could be hitting the motorway next.
Still, I don't even think about telling tales. It doesn't even register as an option. That's until I tell the story on my Radio Hauraki Breakfast show. Two hundred abusive texts later I start to feel I should have.
I asked Inspector Peter McKennie, operations manager road policing if I should have dobbed in this guy.
He said: "Any situation where someone is at risk of getting hurt, including to themselves, call 111 straight away and we will try and respond. Some people get a bit cautious, they think they might be bothering police but it's better to call us and we will make the judgement on the response.
"Better that than not call and have something go wrong. It won't always be a drunk driver, it might be someone who is just a genuine bad driver. Maybe someone who is tired and falling asleep at the wheel. You are just giving us the opportunity to chat with them and find out what's going on. The important thing is that everyone gets through their journey safely."
Hard to argue with Inspector Peter McKennie's logic.
Telling tales is not the kiwi way. You can't go crying to mum when your sister eats all the Tim Tams. But a drunk driver weaving all over the road? Pulling out in front of buses. A guy who is clearly a danger to himself and others? Dob that guy in. Mum and Dad won't mind.