I got on the train home and just after a few minutes a man
became angry and started shouting obscenities at a woman sitting alone and
encumbered with boxes directly across from him. His threats were violent and
his body language suggested to me he was about to snap. She was stunned and
terrified. One man spoke up, was shouted down by the angry man and he fled
at the next stop.
I got up and walked to the woman and asked if I could join her
in the empty seat next to her. She said "yes" and I sat down. Another
man near me thanked me under his breath and also fled at the next stop. I said
nothing to the angry man and made no threatening move towards him. I kept my
bag loose and ready to use as a shield and prepared myself to intervene if the
angry man continued his tirade and jerky movements. I made sure to say nothing
to the man and keep myself neutral but alert and confident.
Once I sat he became still and quiet, glaring at me and then
left after a few more stops before the train left the Loop. It took all my
self-control to stay calm and loose but ready.
I made small talk with the woman after the angry man left and we discussed what happened. She wanted to scream and run from the man, and I don't
blame her, his aggression was genuinely terrifying. But she said she thought
that if she ran he would follow her and continued his abuse and possibly
attack. I agreed, I felt that if I could inject my presence, a large man, as a
buffer or a complication to whatever was on the man's mind I could stop
whatever horrible story was about to unfold before me.
Sometimes that's enough to stop violence. Just being a still
presence. Not threatening, no displays of power, just be there and support.
As to the other fingers, I "thought" by being aware of
my surroundings and observing events unfolding before me. The other man tried
to "yell" but that didn't work. She couldn't "run" but I
could "run" to her aid, so I did. The fight never happened, and
everybody is probably relieved about that. And this story is my "tell."
Advanced Green Belt
Thousand Waves Martial Art and Self-Defense Center