Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good samaritan?

God, what a day yesterday.  I was so tired when I got home around midnight last night that I didn't even shower.  I just fell into bed, hugged C. and told her I loved her, patted Mr. Moose on his needle nose that was stuck in my face, and then fell asleep.  I did not read a blog, I did not write a post.  I also did not eat much or drink enough water.  I was emotionally and physically drained.

I'll tell you about the day.  The morning started with my going to a fast food joint near the boat yard. I don't go to fast food places anymore.  But yesterday morning I was hungry and in a hurry.  First mistake.
The drive through service was backed up about a half mile, so I went inside. Second mistake.  So I ordered a biscuit, sat down at the plastic table on a plastic chair and was about to wolf down the biscuit and get out as quickly as possible when a young man came rushing up to a young woman who was standing in line.  He started yelling at her.  He had his fists balled up and was pacing back and forth yelling at her like a maniac. 

I looked up at the other people in line who were pretending as hard as they could that both these people would disappear.  The young woman was telling the crazy guy to please be quiet and to stop.  But he kept yelling to not give her any food because she stole his money.  And he said that he was going to beat her.

Bingo. He said the wrong words.  I looked at him as he was maybe five feet from me.  And I said something like "You need to stop yelling at her and leave now." God, I hate myself when I get in protective mode.   I cannot stand to see someone cowering and being threatened.  This guy was not big but he appeared to be high on something.  I thought that perhaps a fairly stern warning would evoke some flight response. 

Instead he came over and started getting in my face.  So I got up, towering over him, and said that I was going to get my phone (the one time I left it in the car) and was calling the police.  Okay.  That should make him leave, right?  Nope.  He follows me outside, yelling at me, with the young woman telling him to stop.  The frozen people in the fast food joint were watching all this without moving a muscle, pretending still that this is just normal and continuing to order their whatevers. 

So I go to my car, not really turning my back on him, but telling him to get away from me as I was calling the police, and he might just want to head on out.  He just kept getting in my face and screaming at me.  He told me that he could do what he wanted to his wife.  He could yell at her and hit her if he wanted. His fists were balled up, and he was acting like a crazy man.  I told him to get away from me.  I was seriously getting ready to plant a size 13 foot right in the middle of his chest followed by a hard right to the face,  when I saw a police car.

As luck (or HP) would have it, a police car drove by just at the moment and slowed for the light.  I walked quickly to the police car and told the officer that there was a domestic dispute going on right here, right now and to turn around.  He did a U turn and within seconds was right there.  Within a minute three other police cars were right there. 

So the police get out,  start talking to the guy who said that I was making threats at him.  Everyone went off to their respective corners--me with one officer, the girl with another, the fellow with another.  A fourth was standing amongst this happy little enclave ready to taze or do whatever was necessary if any of us made the wrong moves. 

So I told the officer what happened.  He told me that I could go back in the fast food joint and wait until he talked to the other two.  So back I go to purgatory.  I am looked at like I am some kind of homeless guy making trouble when I go back in.  I was wearing jean shorts, a tee shirt, a two day old beard and probably had a nervous twitch by now.  So I can see the confusion. 

The lady who I took to be the manager came over and asked if I was okay.  I wanted to say, "Yes, I do this every day.  It is a great way to get a huge adrenalin rush in the morning." But I said I had been better.  She said that those two were regulars but "He don't usually act quite that bad." Great.  I can only imagine having  to deal with the regular crowd every morning. 

The policeman then came in and told me that the fellow didn't actually make any physical contact with his wife or me, so he couldn't be charged with anything.  He is known by the police as a guy with temper problems and a few other issues that he didn't go into.  He thanked me for stepping up as a "good citizen" but cautioned against getting involved in the future.  He said the best thing would be to quietly step outside and call the police. 

Yes,  I definitely heard him.  I know how stupid I was.  The guy could have had a knife or a gun.  I know that something in me bubbled up when I saw nobody making a move to do anything.  It was like I couldn't help myself.  It was something deep and instinctual. 

So I left, got in my car, and drove past the guy who was surrounded by three police with papers in their hands.  I guess he was getting charged with something or being given a warning.  The young woman who he said was his wife was sitting alone on the curb with her head in her hands.  I rolled down the window as I drove past and said, "Take care of yourself."  She wanly smiled and said thanks.  That was it. 

When I got to the boat,  I had already beaten myself far worse than that guy would have.  Thankfully, the engine started, and I was able to get underway.  All of that went smoothly.  But instead of enjoying the first thirty minutes of the trip, I was continuing to beat myself up: "You know better. You could have gotten up and called outside. What were you looking for--a fight?".  Sigh. 

But I gave myself those thirty or so minutes and then I focused on the buoys and markers, calling the bridge tender to open the bridge, and the boat which is magical and beautiful.  By the time I got to the marina,  the residual of the experience was just about gone. 

For the rest of the day, I just worked on moving things from my 22 foot faithful boat to the new beauty.  I felt a bit like I was hurting the love of my life. 

Later I went to engine class where we had a good laugh over the misspelling of winch on a handout sheet.  The instructor had written "wench" instead.  You can only imagine what "hooking the strap on the wench" evoked.  Goodhearted laughter felt good.  And the two women in the class had a good laugh with the rest of us as we ribbed the instructor who is an older gentleman and hadn't a clue what his mistake was.  

Then I went back down to the boats to check on them and check the bilge systems, do some caulking on one of the hatches, and hook up to shore power.  Finally, around 11:30 PM, I headed home to another kind of refuge, worn out but with my head cleared of the day's events.  I will repeat from my previous post: Life is an apprenticeship.  I am still an apprentice.


  1. i know you could have slipped out...but i cant help but think you might have saved her some pain..

  2. Syd, if it helps, If I were a big man, I would have done the same. Aw heck, I would have shot my mouth off as the woman I am.

    I can tell you, you are hard on yourself. I know because I am too.

    I liked that you closed with words of self-acceptance. We are all apprentices.

    Or as a dear EA friend tells me, :"Just is tuition in the school of life."

  3. I think that you stepped up and did the right thing and in doing so, you learned a way to do it better. Congratulations to you for that. I'm glad you stopped beating up on yourself, too.

  4. I'm sorry Syd, but I could not help but laugh as I read about your morning. Glad it worked out OK.

    I would have been one of those people who were trying to ignore the goings on.

  5. too many people just turn a blind eye, as though that sort of thing is acceptable. i agree with brian that you could have just gone out and placed a call, but i get the feeling that you really wanted to help. i'm glad no one got hurt, and i am proud of you. it takes a while to change our thinking away from the shoulda/coulda/wouldas. take care, Syd.
    oh and how many boats have you got now? how wonderful it must be to have such a wonderful hobby.

  6. I know the risk you took but I want to commend you for what you did for that lady.

    Hero is a often overused word that has its meaning cheapened but in this instance we need more heros like you to step and intervene.

    Wrongs like that man was perpetrating on his wife may never end but without people like you there is no hope.

    Thank you Syd

  7. We are all apprentices Syd. Progress not perfection. I would have done the same thing. You acted on what you felt and although that might not be practical or safe it doesn't make it wrong. God put you in that fast food place (which you normally don't go to) for a reason. Even if it's only to let the man know people are aware, his behavior is wrong, and that he is being watched. You are a good samaritan in every sense of the word "good". Hoping your day is a bit more uneventful.....

  8. Well Syd, I have to say that I am glad you stood up., I know things may be different over there than here interms of guns and stuff, but I guess I would have done the same, have even in the past. Perhaps the world needs more people like you, ones who are prepared to stand up and be counted, I don't know. Hope the resonance quickly fades, but just so you know, it;s good to know someone like you. Take care of yourself and C

  9. Yes. We learn every day. Thank you for your good heart.

  10. I don't think I could have been as brave as you. I would have freaked out. You should give yourself a pat on the back for being able to help someone in need instead of beating yourself up. Be gentle with yourself.

  11. If not you, then who? Who would have stepped up? You did the right thing. You don't need to beat yourself up. You showed that woman that her husband's actions were not normal, not tolerable, and that someone cared. You showed that man that fists were not an obstacle to you doing the right thing. You reminded the police that even if this guy does this all the time that does not make it right.

    A long time ago, in a class somewhere, a professor told us about a crime committed with a hundred witnesses, and no one made the call. They all thought someone ELSE would do it and no one did.

    You made the call. That is nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing to beat yourself up for. You stood up to the wrongness. You did that. You should be proud.

  12. Oh Syd, I don't think you will ever be able to help being the kind of person you are - one that will jump to the defence of another human being when need be. I know in these dangerous times it's not to be recommended, but for many of us it's just human nature. I would like to think I'd have done what you did too.

    I'm glad your day turned out well and you ended up having a bit of a laugh.

  13. So sorry that dude went psycho on you, but you were a hero!!! A hero may not always do the wisest thing, but they do the RIGHT thing!

    The police have to document and write everything up even if there is no arrest. If he goes too far one day, which he inevitably will, they have documented "incidents" on file.

  14. You are a brave, kind soul. I too often react first and think later, especially when I'm in Captain America mode, as I like to think of it. Sometimes all we can do after the fact is chalk it up to life experience and hope the brain overrides the outrage next time. People are just so unpredictable, aren't they? Very glad you weren't physically engaged by enraged man. Glad you had a good day on the boat to even things out.

  15. I think that the day we stop learning, is the day they put us in the ground Syd. I applaud your want to help, and even understand the need to get involved, but be careful my friend. People are crazy.



    P.s Congrats on your new beauty.

  16. Man, I always step into situations too but they almost always involve screaming babies and their mothers. We just can't help ourselves sometimes. It's okay. We may not be doing it "right" but dammit-we're not standing there and letting someone get hurt and that's all there is to it!

  17. I would have been one of the people wishing they would disappear. I have called the police before. I saw a guy pull up behind someone, get out and walk to the car in front of him and pummel the guy through the driver's side window at a red light. must have been road rage. I didn't have to interfere or save anyone though. He didn't know I was calling.

  18. I applaud you. Too many people turn apathetically away.

    Thanks for being someone that might have impressed others that it's 'okay to care'. By doing so, you have elevated us all.

  19. Confrontation, where hostility reins, makes me physically ill and terribly anxious. Which surprises me because I'm blunt and outspoken as all getout when the emotional temperature is calm. But if there exists a physical threat, I'm a giant fraidy cat. Hm. Wonder why that is. Might just talk to my therapist about that tomorrow. Ha!
    Just kidding. If I were a big guy with size 13 shoes, I would want to intervene too. If I were that woman in line, I would think you were a hero. But I'm just a short woman who lived in LA too long, where a wrong look at the car next to yours might make you a drive-by statistic. Discretion is the better part of valor sometimes. I have gone quietly outside and called 911 on a wacko before. It felt absolutely righteous to call in the men in blue. Or black. Got all the joy of intervening and none of the danger.

  20. Well, yesterday's post was "Patience" ...what a difference a day makes, huh, Syd?

  21. Sometimes there is something inside of me that stands up for the underdog, regardless of how big the other dog is.

    I am notorious for standing up to people I have no business standing up to. Like a 6th grader when I was a kindergartner because he was trying to bully my friend out of a seat. Or a gaggle of neighborhood teenagers harassing a much younger boy.

    I would have done the same thing you did.

    God puts certain people in certain places at certain times for certain reasons. That's all I can figure. Besides, I can't ignore that feeling I get in my chest when I have to do the right thing.

    By the way, love the use of 'enclave' and 'taze' in such close proximity.

  22. Sometimes we do what our instincts tell us....right or wrong. I think what you did was kind and while I am glad you are safe, I am also glad that she got the message from some anonymous stranger that what she was enduring wasn't ok.

    My husband wears a sz 13 too! You must be one big dude. lol

  23. Jeez, Syd, size 13. wow, you're one major guy.

    I would have been like you. I worked in a battered women's shelter when I was in grad school, I wrote about life inside. Not only that... What you said about the situation striking something "deep and instinctual" in you resonated with me. Maybe it's because I was hit a lot as a kid. ... Especially people who hit their kids or scream at them in public make me absolutely nuts, and I have a hard time not intervening.

    I'm A LOT SMALLER than you, 120 lbs and 5'5" (though I have size 9 feet, but that don't hold a candle to a men's size 13), and this would have made me a lot less wise, but yes, I woulda risked shooting my mouth off even worse than you did.

    I need to keep remembering What Is Not My Business.

    Wench, ha. --G

  24. I am a small woman and I might have done the same. But confrontations can spin out of control very quickly and I'm glad you weren't hurt.

    There are so many men like that out there -- shelters for battered women are overflowing out here. And he will carry on until he is stopped, by the police or prison. By then his wife may be badly hurt or dead.

  25. Oh yep I have been caught up in the workings of domestic violence.
    My neighbors were involved in violence it was so hard to hear the cries for help. The police would come and nothing more was done as she would deny the entire episode.
    I am glad I called maybe it helped in ways I am unaware of today.

  26. p.s. Who did the little drawing? I love it. :)

  27. Syd, God love you man! You're a good fellow, and yea, the police officer was technically correct and all, but I'd have had trouble just stepping outside.

    This is a great lesson in "a day in the life" stuff, and how it's so important that we find ourselves in God's presence as often as we can.

  28. If I was ever in trouble, Syd, I could only hope you would be around. I think what you did was dangerous, but great. You are my hero of the week, buddy.

    So glad you were not hurt. You are a great guy.

  29. I think you really are one of the good guys.....sorry your day was so hard....but boy if anything ever happened like that to me...I would hope for someone like you to be mucking around. ☺

  30. We pray: " change the things I can..."
    You can never know how your courage may have affected this woman. It may be that you were put in her path and your HP protected you. Maybe she needed to hear that this man's behavior is unacceptable. Years ago, I needed to hear that from someone else, and it changed my life.

  31. At least you did something while the others just watched ordering their food as if nothing was going on, I just don't get that, I've see that happen and wonder what this world has come to. Yeah, it probably would have been safer to call the police and go outside to do it but I'm glad you stood up to him. You have heart and that is a very good thing.

    As for beating yourself up, I do that pretty much on a regular basis, I'm working on that one, I hate rolling over the same thing in my mind time and time again, it is exhausting.

  32. Syd, you are a good person with good instincts. Sometimes, in those moments, we just act. Please don't berate yourself about how you did it. Most people (as you saw) never step in at all.


  33. They've done studies on the Bystander Effect.
    I think it's good that people stand up and confront bullies. You didn't do anything stupid. You've just shown that you have a heart. Thanks.

  34. What a beautiful, insightful post, Syd - even if you believe you did the wrong thing, you did it for the right reasons. I'd like to think that someone would have come to my rescue when I was in that abusive relationship, but the one who did was my ex-husband. The others around me ignored what I was going through.

    Sorry I haven't been around more, but today is day 6 of my recovery. I started back to Al-Anon last week.

    Peace - D

  35. I would have done things differently but then I suppose you are wiser than I.

    Ever occur to you why he did nothing more than scream and not hit? He is and always will be all mouth no action in the face of violence directed at him. In short you were confronting a coward.


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