Thursday, November 15, 2007
Two years behind me in high school was a guy named Tommy. He considered himself a bad-ass. Once he got out of school, little Tommy reportedly went to work as a knee-breaker for the Teamsters. Such activity did not make him popular in some quarters, apparently.
One fine summer evening, Tommy was in a local watering hole having a beer when somebody came up and told him they'd just come from another bar wherein a fellow was allowing as how the next time he saw Tommy, he was going to shoot him dead.
Tommy finished his beer, hitched up his pants, went to his car and drove to the other bar. Walked in, spied the guy who'd made the threat, and swaggered over.
Whereupon the guy pulled a gun and shot Tommy dead.
Tommy was not carrying a piece. And he was unarmed in wit, way I see it.
And what is the moral of this story? If you choose to walk the mean streets, you need to expect there might be potholes into which you might fall.
Live by the sword, die by the sword.
This comes up on reflection about a thread on Chiron's blog -- see the link over in the list -- about violence.
I am happy to say that my experience with street violence is scant, and that most of my knowledge about what I would or would not do if faced with it is theoretical. The last time I had a knife pulled on me -- I hope it was the last -- was twenty-five years ago. The last time somebody went for a gun to wave at me -- same hope here -- was even farther back.
Me, I'm a lover, not a fighter.
But it brings up the question, how do you prepare to deal with violence, if that is your wont? I believe that the art in which I train offers some solutions. The only way to test them in the real world is to, well, try them, but since I avoid the mean streets when I can these days, it's my hope I won't ever have to do so.
There is a chance that, if I need those skills, I won't be able to pull them up.
Still and all, I feel comfortable that what I know is enough a part of the way I move that if push comes to shove, I'll be able to come up with a useful tool from the box.
One cannot prepare for every instance. If the Chinese Army comes over the hill, all the martial arts in the world aren't going to do the trick. But the Boy Scout motto is: Be Prepared, and I take that to mean that you consider the likely possibilites, and train accordingly.
Ah, yes, the knife and gun stories:
The knifer was a guy on the subway in NYC who wanted my wallet. I did all the wrong things, but walked away anyhow -- still have the knife -- and I expect it was because he was so stoned he saw three of me and couldn't figure out which one to stick.
The gun: My brother and I, back in our private eye days, were hired by another investigator, Ron, to go along with him on a process-server run. Our job was to hang back a little ways in our car -- a Volkswagen, as it happened -- and witness Ron's service of a subpoena.
The fellow to be served was the president of the local Teamster's Union. He was staying at a house near the end of a dead-end street, and when Ron drove up next to him as he was alighting from his Coup de Ville to go inside and stuck the paper out his Toyota window, the teamster was not pleased. He dropped the subpoena on the ground. He reached into Ron's car and tried to grab him; Ron pulled back.
Then the teamster ran for his Cadillac, jerked the door open, and lunged for the glove box.
By the time he re-emerged from his automobile, bearing what I identified in the rearview mirror as a chrome-plated Colt M-1911 .45 ACP, I was about to shift into third gear, hundred meters away, pedal to the floor.
About which time Ron blew past my brother and me like we were standing still ...