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Extraction

Today I’ve been on a bicycle tour with my mother and my grand cousin, which is the foster child of my mother but that is another story. Today I want to write about something that did put me on alert. The last days we rode bicycle several times, basically so that my little and almost two years old grand cousin can gather experiences, like seeing fields, farms, animals, and so on. Today we saw horses again and by the end of our tour I got the idea that we cycle to a pond to watch ducks and other birds with my cousin.

Arrived at one of the ponds, I noticed two girls on a park bench, maybe around 14 years old or so. Just seconds later, coming from the neighboring park bench, a filthy drunken guy walked past me. He was maybe around the age 50 or so and had his phone in his hands and played a song I knew. It’s actually a great song by Marvin Gaye called “Let’s Get It On”. Not so great in the situation I’ve heard it today. As you might know, it’s a song commonly used in romantic or sexual scenes in movies. It did put me on alert that he went straight to the two young girls with this song, and even more so when I’ve seen him doing some kind of a “you and me” gesture, pointing at one of the girls and himself with his fingers.

I said “Mom, check this guy over there, to me it looks like he’s hitting on the girls” and I continued “I will go there, this looks wrong”. My mother agreed but was worried that I could get into trouble and reminded me that we have our little family member with us. I told her “Mom, don’t worry about me, but cycle 20 meters away with her, so that she’s in safety”. While we had this fast conversation, one of the girls looked over to me, visibly worried, visibly like she felt to be in an unpleasant situation. I said “Mom, be right back”.

So, I walked to the two girls and asked them if the guy is hitting on them and one of the girls said yes. The guy intervened and asked me if I think that he is a pedophile, I replied “You sure act like one, but I am not talking to you, so, shut up”. After that I entirely ignored him and approached the two girls again while keeping situational awarness and pointed with the finger to my mothers standing far away and said “If this is a situation you don’t like, you can walk away from here with us” and both of them nodded. I said “Let’s go then”. They followed me.

He shout at me and said that I am an asshole, and he now looked visibly hostile but I couldn’t care less and just continued to ignore him. We moved on but I maintained situational awareness and saw him walking behind us back to “his” park bench where he had a glass bottle of beer. I can count one and two together. A drunken person, visibly aggressive and a glass bottle of beer, what could possibly go wrong. Well, I am living in a city where in a possible physical confrontation it is more often than not about one person getting into the hospital. And I can assure you that if needed, I’d do everything so that it would be my possible opponent and not me.

It’s not the first time that someone in our city got a bottle on the head and that’s not even the worst that can happen. But with that said, that’s what situational awareness is about. Seeing things around you, including things that could be used as weapons. Mainly, because they possibly could be used against you, secondly, in the worst cases you might even need them yourself. So, my situational awarness told me “If this dude is taking his bottle to fight with me, I gonna use my bicycle to maintain distance between me and possibly attack him with it until I knock him over or until he’s loosing the bottle”. And honestly, in such a case, if attacking me with a bottle would have been his decision, it definitely would have ended up in a fight with no rule set. Because I always promised myself one thing in my life “If you can run away, do it, you’re smarter. If you can’t and there are weapons, wrestle for life, there are no rules anymore to win the fight”.

Like I said, I am a great fan of ignoring trouble entirely or moving on fast if in trouble. But there are situations where it’s not just about myself. Like the one I’ve been into today where you can’t just run away. It has been about extracting the two girls, getting them out of that unpleasant situation. And I was fully aware that I might even need to fight but that’s not as bad as possibly opening the locals news a couple of days later to find out that something happened to one or two girls. So, I don’t care. Since he went to his beer bottle and since this happened to my left, I told the girls to go on my right side and I did put my bicycle to my left, like I said, just in case I need to repurpose it.

However, he just took the bottle to take a sip and kept mumbling insults, and not to attack me or us. I ignored him, you don’t have to escalate that situation. You just extract the girls, mission complete. In all honesty, he wouldn’t have had a chance anyway, probably not even with a bottle as a weapon. He was pretty drunken, and I am physical very fit and I was prepared for any outcome. But I still think it’s worth it to mention what kind of things go through my head in such situations. I personally think that situational awareness is a very important thing.

But I am glad that I didn’t have to fight, I almost entirely ignored him the whole time and I’ve done so because memories of a police video kept popping up where they said that if you want to help someone, it’s very de-escalating if you entirely ignore the offender but keep communicating with the victim. If I remember correctly, it also helps the victim to feel safe, especially when you offer them to join you and walk out of the situation. And it really worked well today. So, we just moved away and he didn’t follow us. My mother asked them what the guy wanted and one of the girls told us “He kept asking me to cuddle with him, told us the music is about cuddling”. My mother then told the two girls “If something like this ever happens again, I suggest you to say that you have no time as soon as possible and walk away immediately, if no people are around, to a place where people are”.

We kept walking until the girls felt safe, the two girls then thanked us and we said bye. A friend called me an hour later and I told him this story as it still affected me emotionally and he was very proud of me. I told him “The thing that annoys me is that this person might attempt it again on other girls” because the thing is if I would have called the police, they would just have said “Well, nothing happened yet”. What worries me too, is that I’ve just seen a fully grown around 50 years old dude hitting on around 14 years old girls at bright daylight in a park.

Well, anyway, you can’t change everything or you can’t save the entire world, but you can at least open your eyes around you and prevent things there or do good things there. The way I see it, if I do good things, and if everyone is doing it, in the grand scheme of things, it’s actually making the world a better place.

11 Comments »

  1. Well done Dennis, you acted very sensibly and got the girls out of a bad situation without anyone getting hurt. It is a concern that a person like that is still able to roam around the park but as you say unless a crime has been committed the police can’t do anything legally.
    I am sure that the girls will tell their parents and friends what nearly happened to them and hopefully will avoid that area in future if they see seedy characters like this man around; although it is very sad that the innocent are the ones that must be forced away when all they were doing was enjoying the outdoors. Still, with a bit of luck, news of this incident will filter through the community via these kids and their friends which may lessen the risk a little. As you say you can’t save the world but if everyone took responsibility for the situations they can control the world would be a better place.

    • On the way out there, when they told us that he asked them to cuddle, I felt like maybe the police would have opened a case… but I didn’t know before hand. They told us when we walked away. I am no law expert nor did I google it yet, but appears like very close to sexual harassment, maybe it even is… and with minors included. I don’t know. On the other side, my last experiences with the police was not very good, they really just seem to care when it’s already too late, which is probably also partly caused by their limited resources as this is often the topic in the news and about politics. Anyway, at least I finished that unpleasant situation for them quickly. I forgot to suggest them to tell their parents about what just happened… I hope they’re not embarrased and like you said do it on their own. It would be indeed good if the parents get the chance to speak with them about the topic.

      • I hope they do tell their parents and they can decide whether or not they want to involve the police. It was harassment so there might be a case but whether the police would pursue it with much enthusiasm is hard to say. If the man frequents that park they could put an extra patrol on at least.

        • I think so, right, they’d probably issue an injunction for him to not visit this area again. Then like you said, either patrol or reports by citizens if he’s seen again. I’ve read that often in the local news, for example in the case of stalkers or agains divorced persons that continue to harrass their ex partners.

          If the parents decide to get the police involved, they’d look for me as a witness anyway. We have a local news page that is covering such cases as well, they get reports from the police, mostly vague, especially if not everything can be said. It hasn’t been the first time I’ve read “We’re looking for the person that did withness XY on day XY, please call police administration XY”. I am going through all local news one or two times a week, I don’t skip a single news, so, I would see it, and I’d gladly give my report if I’m needed. I could imagine this would be especially the case if that dude is known, made similar attempts elsewhere… we had such cases in the news, and when such a ticking timebomb is running around, the police does pursue it with all efforts including search for witnesses via local news pages.

    • Back then when I was younger, I once sat on a park bench with a friend and a creepy guy joined us… he didn’t flirt with us but he was very creepy, maybe schizophrenic, on drugs or something. Definitely not someone kids know how to talk to. We haven’t had the courage to go away immedietly because we felt like it would upset him… that’s how some kids are, they’d like to get out of an unpleasant situation but don’t know how. I remember, other people moved along and how I wished someone would ask if everything is right and if we know that guy or if we want to leave. Fortunately, nothing happened back then. It’s just a memory, but one that pretty much popped up in my head too today when I saw this today… so, I thought “Let’s do it quick for them, they maybe don’t know how to get out there, I do it for them, it looks fishy”.

  2. Hi Dennis! It’s been a while since I last talked to you here on WordPress. I apologise for disappearing for a while – I had been overwhelmed by everything around me for the longest time. But I am trying to regain my sense of control of things I want to do every now and then, like writing and doing hobbies.

    I am really moved by this recent blog entry you wrote. What a hero you are! You have the mental presence and the courage to do such a heroic act and emerging from it unscathed. Thank you for saving those girls from the troublesome person. I hope you also have recovered from the experience, too – for sure, you got nervous and all while you did your best to de-escalate the situation.

    I hope I could catch up with you more soon. For now, it just warmed my heart to read about this. Always take care!

    • Hi and thank you! Don’t worry about having disappeared for a while. I haven’t been much active on my blog or generally in the blogosphere either. Lots of things happened in real life and some of the things require much more of my time than previosly. With that said, the last months, or this year, I barely wrote more than two or three posts per month. But I don’t find that bad, sometimes other things need more of our attention but blogs are something we always can come back to, there is no forced shedule. So, I wouldn’t worry about that, I don’t either 🙂

      Thanks for your nice words. While this guy is probably still running around, I do at least hope that he is now intimidated to never do this again as some people, indeed, have their eyes open and don’t tolerate such behaviour. I also hope that the two girls learned that they should not interact with the offender and get out of it quickly and approach people nearby if the situation feels strange. But it actually was really smart what the one girl did something similar, making eye contact with me, showing with body language that she is worried. This made me go from the state of “wondering what’s going on, if I should intervene” to “nope, this is wrong, I definitely gonna intervene”. While this was a scary situation for them, I do hope that my intervention preserved some sense of security for them, like that if you go outside, you have to stay mindful, but that you also don’t have to be afraid to go outside because there are people willing to help you, and that it is no shame to call for help. Anyway, I still hope their parents decided to call the police to file a report as I’d prefer it if the police keeps track of offenders like that one.

      It was a pleasure to read from you again. Best wishes! Take care too!

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