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Kelly J. Cooper

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Survival Skills [Dec. 8th, 2008|12:00 am]
Kelly J. Cooper
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Survival Skills: Yr Doin It Wrong

Several weeks ago, I was coming out of the CVS in Porter Square and this very tall man started yelling at Mr. Smith. Mr. Smith sells Spare Change in the Porter Square area - you've probably seen him if you come through with any regularity. He works the top level of the Porter Square T Station when the weather's bad - otherwise, outside of the CVS or outside of the Shaw's across the parking lot. He is a slender, elderly Black man. He's very nice, but frequently incoherent.

The tall man claimed Mr. Smith stole his spot. Mr. Smith didn't really understand what was happening. I countered that Mr. Smith often worked this spot. Strangely, this did not placate the tall man. Then the tall man grabbed Mr. Smith's bag of extra newspapers and started to storm angrily away. THIS, Mr. Smith understood and followed after, yelling "Hey, those are mine!"

I followed after both of them, yelling at the guy to give Mr. Smith his papers back NOW! I used my Very Loud Voice. The man, seeing both of us following him, grudgingly gave Mr. Smith his plastic bag back and stated he was going to report Mr. Smith for selling without a badge and stormed off toward White Street. Mr. Smith's companion and I both urged Mr. Smith to clip his Official Seller's Badge to his jacket (which he did).

On my way home, I thought - THAT was dumb. That dude was huge! You have no sense, woman.

Well, I really proved that to myself tonight...

A fellow walked into the comic shop and demanded that I "open it" - I thought he meant the bathroom until he ordered me to hang up the phone and "open it" (inclining his head toward the cash drawer).

I don't respond well to threats or intimidation, so I started yelling at him at the top of my lungs to get the fuck out of my store. He refused. Since my boss was on the line with me, I told him to call 911 while I yelled at this guy.

We argued, but I yelled him right out of the store (although the customer coming down the steps might've helped spook him out of staying). I gave a detailed report to the cops, then had the post-adrenaline shakes for an hour.

Now my muscles are complaining and I'm thinking huh, my temper is going to get me killed.

I mean, he didn't have a gun or a knife, although he was acting like he might.

It kinda leaves me thinking now what?

Maybe I should take some anger management classes.

[User Picture]From: rmd
2008-12-08 02:52 am (UTC)
iirc, someone tried to mug my brother andy when he lived in the combat zone. he was carrying a pizza and he just started yelling at the guy and he went away.

i seem to recall someone similar happening to some chick we know who was on the subway (new york subway, maybe?) and someone came over and started trying to quietly demand money. this attempt failed.

frankly, it sounds like you reacted totally reasonably in this circumstance. he was not actually posing a risk to your health or well being. he was not threatening you with deadly or even particularly damaging force. you had the boss man call 911.

i think if he pulled a weapon and you reacted that way i might have to say "OH MY GOD WOMAN WHERE IS YOUR SENSE", but bitching him out for trying to verbally intimidate you? GO YOU.

i think you have a great deal of sense, and are simply not as afraid of interacting with strangers or calling people on their shit or yelling back at people as some of us are.

Edited at 2008-12-08 05:53 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-12-08 02:59 am (UTC)
i think you have a great deal of sense, and are simply not as afraid of interacting with strangers or calling people on their shit or yelling back at people as some of us are.

Huh. Well thank you very much!
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[User Picture]From: hammercock
2008-12-08 03:22 am (UTC)
Go you for standing up for Mr. Smith and your store! Especially for Mr. Smith -- I think not a lot of people would have done what you did for him.

I don't think you need anger management classes because you were angry at people who deserved your anger.
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(Deleted comment)
From: n5red
2008-12-08 03:42 am (UTC)
I'm more in favor of: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnum_Research_BFR

The gene pool needs more chlorine.
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[User Picture]From: rmd
2008-12-08 10:52 am (UTC)
there is something to be said for proportional response, however.
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From: i_leonardo
2008-12-08 10:55 am (UTC)
ask the owner to post signs saying the premises are monitored by cctv. an actual monitor would be nice, too, but the signs are better than nothing.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-12-08 01:25 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's a good idea.
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[User Picture]From: miss_chance
2008-12-08 11:52 am (UTC)
Maybe I should take some anger management classes.

Feh! You're *supposed* to be angry when people threaten you! That's what anger is FOR! Maybe self-defense classes, if you feel your voice is your only weapon. I mean, it's still your *best* weapon in most circumstances, but you are a strong, relatively healthy, young woman- a guy comes in to your store unarmed, I'm pretty sure you could kick his ass if necessary, with a little training on how to use your natural assertiveness. I think using your personal force and power to defend your boundaries shows that you are a sensible woman. I think having your personal boundaries extend to a Spare Change newpaper man you see on a regular basis shows that you are a kind and compassionate woman. Both these things are parts of why I like you. :)
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2008-12-08 12:20 pm (UTC)
What she said.
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[User Picture]From: drwex
2008-12-08 03:25 pm (UTC)
I would tend to agree with the general trend here. You got angry, sure, but not without cause and not to excess. It doesn't sound like you have an anger management problem - and i'm speaking here as someone who himself had one a while back.

Many crimes depend on the intimidation of and compliance of the victim. People standing up against wrong behavior isn't expected, and most people won't do it.

I'm glad you did stand up and that both incidents ended well.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-12-08 06:31 pm (UTC)
i'm speaking here as someone who himself had one a while back.

When the anger came, did it feel almost berserker like? The thing is, my mouth goes off before it occurs to me that I might get hurt or killed. The anger takes over. There is a tiny, rational part of my brain still functioning, but so far I haven't tried to use it to exert pressure on the angry part, so I don't know if I can rein it in.
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[User Picture]From: missionista
2008-12-08 03:33 pm (UTC)
Wow! I'd say what pretty much everyone else has said. You did good.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-12-08 06:31 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks!
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[User Picture]From: catness
2008-12-08 03:47 pm (UTC)
Agreed on all of the above. I think you did the right thing both times. Just be careful, and be mindful of clues that indicate the situation is changing in such a way that you are no longer in control of it, if you're faced with something similar in the future.

*hugs* I'm glad both these scenes played out like they did.
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[User Picture]From: kjc
2008-12-08 06:33 pm (UTC)
I'm glad both these scenes played out like they did.

Thank you very much. I am as well.

My worry is how to manage the anger if the situation should turn. I'm not sure if I can turn it back off, even to save my own skin.

But watching body language, marking off the distance between me and the other person, evaluating the response - I think I try to be mindful of all of those things, even when my mouth is expressing the rage.
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