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As an instructor, I often tell my students that the greatest threat that they need to worry about isn’t the street level mugger. “The greatest threat is what you see in the mirror.” In other words, YOU. I saw a prime example of this during a road rage incident between a young driver and an elderly jogger on Halloween.

I was at a red light at the intersection in the below photograph. An elderly male jogger was jogging across the crosswalk from the right in front of my car. He looked closer to 80 years old than 70. He had a hunched over posture while jogging.

The intersection where I watched the entire incident unfold.

While he was jogging across the crosswalk, a white minivan was waiting to make a left-hand turn. In slow motion, I could see that he was going to possibly hit the jogger in the crosswalk. Fortunately, he stopped in time to avoid hitting the jogger. Only a foot or two separated the van and the jogger. In watching all of this, I was 5 to 10 feet away.

The elderly jogger did not see this van and reacted in surprise. I don’t think that the driver of the van saw the jogger either. Startled, the jogger threw his hands in the air as if to say “You idiot, you almost hit me!” As the windows were closed in my car, I did not hear what the jogger said. In the grand scheme of things, the jogger’s reaction appeared to me to be mild.

Mind you, the jogger had the right of way.

The elderly jogger then continued his jog.

Amazingly, the driver of the van got pissed at the jogger, revved up his van, and pulled into an empty parking lot adjacent to the sidewalk that the jogger was on. As I was still sitting the intersection, I observed the driver get out of the van to confront the jogger.

The parking lot where the asshole pulled in and got out of his van to confront the elderly jogger.

From my vantage point, I saw that the driver was a young man and appeared to be in his 30s to 40s. He commenced screaming at the elderly man once he got out of the van.

While watching this, I said to myself: “Dude, you almost hit a jogger. You’re lucky you didn’t hit him. And now you’re pissed at him? WTF is up with this road rage toward an elderly jogger?

I was concerned that the driver was going to attack the jogger as his reaction to the jogger’s mild response seemed to be disproportionate. Essentially, he was getting angry over nothing.

I decided to pull into the parking lot and intervene. After rolling down the passenger side window, I said to the bully: “Hey, that guy had the right of way in the crosswalk. What’s wrong with you?

Not surprisingly, the bully started screaming at me, trying to justify his actions. Staying calm, I stayed in the car and told him: “Shut up. He had the right of way. You almost hit him. You should be fucking thankful you did not hit him.”

In response, he continued to berate me. While he was berating me, out of the corner of my eye, I saw that the elderly jogger had disappeared. Mission accomplished.

I then left the scene with the bully driver continuing to scream at me.

My takeaways?

After being nearly hit by the van, the jogger’s response was brief and mild. As indicated earlier in this post, he threw up his hands with a combination of exasperation and anger after seeing the van nearly hit him. After his brief reaction, he continued his jog. He did not stand in the street or attack the van. He said his piece and then move on.

Given that mild response, the driver wildly over-reacted. Maybe he was having a bad day. But, I think that it’s probable that the driver has poor anger management issues. Obviously, he demonstrated poor impulse control in his over-reaction to the elderly jogger’s response and willingness to exit his van to confront him.

Furthermore, I think that it is highly probable that he has had road rage incidents in the past or will have more in the future. By allowing his anger to run unchecked, he risks confronting the wrong person the next time. The next “victim” could be an off-duty police officer, a gang banger, or a military veteran or someone with a CCW permit. Use your imagination.

Think about it. If you are this driver, you are possibly putting yourself in danger when confronting someone while enraged. Confronting the wrong person means that things can go sideways very quickly. Outcomes range from serious injury to facing significant criminal charges by the authorities. Going into debt to pay defense lawyer fees and reputational damage are sure to follow.

As stated at the beginning of this post, the most serious threat often isn’t the bad guy in a hoodie. An unchecked ego is the greatest enemy for many folks. Learn to control it. Be calm. Go with the flow. Take responsibility for your actions and you’ll be okay.

I am thankful that I saw this entire incident unfold from beginning to end as it reinforced my self defense philosophy. Indeed, I’ve related the incident to my students at Durham College/University of Ontario Institute of Technology as well as my Bamboo Spirit students.

Over to you, what is your takeaway from this post? Have you witnessed similar incidents? What did you do?

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2 thoughts on “Confronting An Asshole

  • November 7, 2018 at 11:32 am
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    This happened quite a few years ago, before I started training in martial arts. I was with my family in a local fast food place. It was busy and we were waiting in line to pick up our order. A man came in, placed an order and paid for it. Then he asked the kid behind the counter to give him change for a dollar so he could make a phone call (like I said – long time ago). The kid couldn’t because it was against the rules to open the till. The man became extremely agitated – yelling at this poor kid repeatedly, swearing and threatening. The rest of us just stood in shocked silence, myself included. Eventually the man left – and then he came back in. Shit. Yelling some more, he went to the front of the line and demanded a refund. While he was doing that, I reached into my wallet, grabbed a handful of change, walked up to him and said “Here you go.”. The change to his demeanour was instantaneous – posture, facial expression, tone of voice – all calmed down. We chatted for a few seconds, he apologized for his behaviour and left. If I’d had the presence of mind, I would have done that the first time he was there, but I was really taken aback and a little slow on the uptake! Moral of the story: sometimes people are assholes because they’ve had a shitty day, their dog died, they lost their job, whatever. Sometimes the best self defense is being kind. Knowing what I know now, I might have approached this situation a little differently – more guardedly perhaps. But being in a crowded restaurant surrounded by witnesses is a little different from being in an isolated parking lot with nobody around!

    Reply
    • November 7, 2018 at 12:44 pm
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      Hi Roseanne,

      Terrific comment and an awesome intervention that you pulled off. There are different ways to intervene and yours was spot on! I’m glad that it worked out for you as well as for myself and that elderly jogger!

      Reply

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