Yesterday I attended the funeral of a cabbie killed in the workplace, my second such event in 16 months. Last years service for Youbert Hormozi was the result of manslaughter, or reckless indifference to a life. Yesterday’s funeral came after a cold-blooded murder...
Few industries regularly experience homicide in the workplace and for cabbies it’s a sobering reality, one I reflected upon whilst waiting for the service to commence.
The common stereotype would have the average cabbie as a loner, a person with no other life. The supposed non-entity who too often becomes an easy target for arseholes and sociopaths. Yet this misplaced notion was dispelled by the hundreds of mourners attending Robert Woodger’s service.
Also I wondered if there could be a crueller psychological punishment for murderers than being made to attend their victim’s funeral, so that in the cold light of day they're forced to contemplate the ramifications of their vile crime. That they be subjected to the outpouring of grief, pain and anger from so many touched by the sudden loss of a loved and respected husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, mentor, captain, mate and colleague.
Robert Woodger wasn’t a bloke I knew or had met around the ranks as he was a day driver, albeit starting around 1am each day towards the end of my night shifts. Yet his image looked all too familiar, from the first photo appearing in the press following his disappearance last week. Yesterday I worked out where I’d seen him before.
Woodger was the quintessential older Aussie bloke in shorts and t-shirt, the type often seen around beachside suburbs and coastal villages. A friendly knockabout fella with a loving family and actively involved in the local environment. In Woodger’s case he was passionately committed to the surf lifesaving movement, initially on the mid North Coast at Camden Haven, thence at Sydney’s Bronte beach.
A lifesaver squad made a striking procession preceding his coffin into the church. They comprised numerous girls and young women in Rescue and Resuscitation team blazers, who had been trained by Woodger and his wife Pam over 30 years. Thence at the conclusion of the service more lifesavers, plus cabbies and connections, lined the street and applauded the hearse on it’s final journey.
Whilst the sight of hundreds of volunteer lifesavers was truly impressive, they also highlighted the cruel irony of Robert Woodger’s demise. A flag on his hearse said it all.
May he rest in peace.