A few years ago, before my nephew (who is now 2) was born, my family decided to visit the local 24-hour diner for a late dinner after a church one Tuesday night. We sat at an L shaped portion of the bar, with my mother and my step-father sitting where they could see the door. My sister and I sat between him and my brother-in-law who sat closest to the door. We ordered our food, carried on, talking, laughing, etc.

Just as an aside, my step-father was a retired police officer and knew everyone in town—including most of the patrons at the diner.

When we all received our food, my step-father said a prayer and we began our meal. About half-way through our food, an older man, let’s refer to him as John, who had several previous disagreements with my step-father over the years, came into the diner. John had been arrested by my step-father during his service and by many other current police officers. John had even harassed my step-father at our home in the months previous.

John had only been there a few minutes, ordered a coffee, and noticed my family eating. John came over and started making hostile comments to my step-father. He was rude and began acting agitated.

Finally, John made a statement “Well why don’t you just shoot me!” along with some expletives and derogatory insults towards my step-father. It was now apparent that John was very drunk and was simply looking for a fight. Unknowingly, John had approached my step-father, within arms-reach, and stood just behind me; this put my brother-in-law sitting behind him.

With a final insult towards my step-father, my brother-in-law had had enough—getting up from his place at the bar standing directly behind John. My brother-in-law had studied Taekwondo since his childhood and was ready to defend our family if John decided to become more hostile and perhaps assault my father.

Without flinching, my step-father calmly told my brother-in-law to sit and simply asked John to leave; to let our family enjoy our dinner. Taken aback, probably because that wasn’t the reaction John was looking for, he muttered to himself, took his coffee and went outside to smoke a cigarette. My family returned to our meal.

John remained outside and eventually left in his convertible.

Later, my step-father explained that he wasn’t going to let John become hostile, but he also wasn’t going to get into a fight, gun or not, in front of his family. “He wasn’t worth it” explaining why he also didn’t draw his weapon—even when John told him to.
My step-father also took the moment to express that it is always important, regardless of personal history with a person, to assess the situation to determine whether to draw your weapon or not and to deescalate a situation, first, if able.

Have you had a moment of cool-headedness recently?

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