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I'm A "Hero"...Kind Of

I have never actually been in a fist-fight in my life. Heated arguments, sure. Pitched legal battles (in my former capacity as a civil litigator), all the time. I did, however, come very close to a scrap a few weeks ago.

Standing in line at the check out at Winners,  I witnessed an altercation. The store has one snaky checkout line that winds through shelves of impulse-buy goods. The woman standing directly in front of my wife and me was fixated on her cart and wasn’t paying attention to her surroundings. The man in front of her was inspecting the stuff on the shelves and she (apparently) bumped him with her cart.

His reaction was immediate, and over the top. He winced in pain and began shouting at her. She looked up, startled, and seemed confused by his anger. She perhaps might have apologized if he wasn’t immediately belligerent. But as he continued to rant she became passive-aggressive, fake whispering to me; “Can you believe this guy?”

The situation deteriorated from there. The man, who was a menacing 6’4” and 260 lbs., kept shouting for her to stay back.  The staff weren’t doing anything, and everybody in line kept their eyes down. He was being a bully and I really don’t like bullies. It took every ounce of my restraint (which, interestingly, totals about an ounce) to keep quiet.  But I couldn’t listen to his overwrought indignation any longer, so I stepped in; “Turn around and shut up.”

“What are you gonna do about it?” A valid question. I had no real plan. “I’m not going to turn around, I’m gonna look at you,” he continued. Clearly he had no real plan either. “Really? C’mon. You’re starting up with two complete strangers.” But he wouldn’t back off, bellowing, “She hit me with her cart!” So I shifted to mockery, “Where’s the blood?” I shouted back.

“This is her fault!” So, he wanted an apology, but didn’t see how his aggression prevented him from getting it. “I’m sure she’s very sorry.” He either missed, or chose to ignore, my sarcastic tone, and muttered “All right then,” and finally turned around.

The woman thanked me. Somebody behind us sneered that both of us should “grow up”. My wife, who knows that I’m incapable of being a silent bystander, told me that she was surprised that I had waited so long before getting involved. In retrospect, I should have tried to talk him down rather than go toe to toe, but I don’t regret getting involved. It did make me think of how my (occasional) aggression is perceived by others.

Several excellent articles in this issue of Tonic cover the concepts of intentions, expectations and taking risks. Paul McQuillan muses that all addictions, even yoga, are bad (p.14), Carlyle Jansen considers the problem of overexpectation in you sex life (p.26), and Rod Macdonald explains why it’s okay to allow your kids to take risks (p.47). For straight up health advice, I recommend Joel Thuna and Claude Gallant’s article on putting together a natural first aid kit (p.39) or Bryce Wylde’s article on natural fertility (p.29). As always, if you want to discuss this note or anything else in this issue of Tonic, please feel free to contact me.