Friday, October 30, 2009
I GUESS IT'S A GOOD THING THAT I DIDN'T HIT HIM, BUT IT FEELS BAD
I'm not sure what to think of this. I stopped in a cafe to ask for directions today. A patron sitting at one of the tables stood up -- presumably to point me in the right direction -- and promptly tripped over the curb, falling right on top of me. In a matter of micro-seconds, I thought, "Is he attacking me? Why? Is he drunk? What's going on? Should I hit him?" Then he righted himself and apologized profusely and with obvious embarrassment. He was quite sober; he had just slipped. He kept apologizing, obviously concluding from the expression on my face that he'd upset me. I was upset, but not about that -- I was upset that my reflexes had failed me: If I were anywhere near ready to think of myself as a fighter, I would have immediately brought my elbow down hard on his head, pushed him off of me, then kicked him to the other side of the cafe. I would have done it unmediated by thought. But I didn't -- I just stood there, confused. Of course, hitting him would have been the wrong thing to do -- it was a totally innocent accident. So I'm glad I didn't do it. It would have been terrible (and embarrassing) to hurt a man just because he tripped. But I'm worried that in a more sinister situation, I wouldn't act fast enough, and I'm disappointed in myself, somehow. Maybe I don't have the guts to pull the trigger?