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.