Sitting in a compartment on a tube train, someone tried to pick a fight with me once. I have always used my wits to negotiate myself in and out of situations. Physical violence is not part of my vocabulary.
This fellow sat opposite me and looked into my eyes. I looked back at him. “Why are you looking at me?” he asked with undercurrents of a threat in his voice. “How did you know I was looking at you?” was my response.
Momentarily confused, the man tried to make sense of the question I asked him. I decided to help him, saying “You must have been looking at me, to know that I was looking at you!” This comment stung my opponent, because he felt I had exposed him as a dimwit. He started summoning up the aggressive energy he was keen to use against me, when suddenly we were both stopped in our tracks by another man’s voice.
“If you dare to touch him….!” (It was a neighbour who had silently witnessed our exchange. I was 19 years old at the time). The bully harrumphed and caused commotion in the compartment for the rest of our journey, but he was clearly wary of using his fists.
Unfortunately for him, we all left the train at the same stop. The neighbour cornered the bully and gave him a punch that sent him reeling across the platform. “Call the police!” he hollered. Everyone present simply ignored him and proceeded to their respective destinations. Thinking about the current state of the polity in the UK, this story gives me some comfort. I wonder why….