Fight or Flight?

I just walked to the shops and realised that I needed to get some cash from the local ATM. I’d done that and was walking back towards the supermarket when I saw two stocky young men coming towards me. I could tell that they’d been drinking and they had a rather menacing air about them so I walked into the road to go round them as we passed. Next thing I knew, the one nearest to me reached up and grabbed my woolly hat off my head and ran off with it!

That’s the kind of thing that sometimes used to happen to me when I was a small child, but it hasn’t happened to me in over 40 years so it came as a shock. I’m quite a big man so I don’t normally get much aggravation from people.

The kind of thing that other kids would do at school would be to take your pen and chuck it around among themselves as you tried to retrieve it. Usually they’d stop when they got bored or a teacher would come along and make them hand it back. Annoying, but harmless.

These two didn’t look harmless. They were both about 5′ 10″ tall (about 3″ shorter than me) but looked fit and much stronger than me. I have no doubt at all that they could have made a nasty mess of me if they’d wanted to.

The sensible thing to have done would have been to bite my lip and walk on with their jeers ringing in my ears but I’m afraid the ‘red mist’ came down on me. It has been really cold here recently, I’m balding and my head feels the cold – I needed that hat!

I turned round through 180 degrees and walked briskly towards the yob with my hat, which just happened to be down a quiet, dark side street. Just the kind of place in fact where you really don’t want to be getting into an argument with two powerful young drunks…

Yob #2 skipped alongside me laughing, calling out things like “What yer gonna do mate, eh, what yer gonna do!” I snarled at him that I was going to walk up to his friend and get my hat back. He laughed again and asked “Well what if he don’t wanna give it back!” “Then, I will just have to think of something to persuade him!”

It was as though my mind was split in two. Which to choose – flight or fight? The thinking part of my mind was screaming at me to give this up as a bad job and take the flight option. The reptilian part was saying “I’m not scared of you, you drunken thugs!” and was ready for the fight.

The other thing is – this is a quiet little town. If I made enemies here, I’d have to leave. There would be no hiding from them. The thought of getting a brick through my window, or worse – a petrol bomb – doesn’t bear thinking about.

Turned out I was really lucky – the moronic yobs ran away, quicker than I can run, so the fight option was no longer available to me. I would probably have ended up in hospital or in prison and all for the sake of a hat, and wounded pride. I lost my hat, but I’ve still got my teeth.

The incident upset me. I like living here, away from the troubles of big city life, but every now and then ugly reality creeps up on me. 😕

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4 Responses to “Fight or Flight?”

  1. Thats terrible.

    I hope this doesn’t have an effect on you mentally. Hats can easily be replaced.

  2. To some people it might not sound much but I found it intimidating and humiliating. It was as if they felt they could do what they wanted and get away with it. The thing is – I’d only just been to the ATM and taken £40 out. It could easily have been my wallet that they’d taken.

    I did notice that there were rather a lot of young drunks about so I’m wondering if a load of them had come over for a party or something.

    I really value being able to walk about at night feeling safe. It’s one of the things I like most about Hebden Bridge. When I go to larger towns, I immediately notice how threatening they can feel.

    I went to a colleague’s leaving party in Halifax once and the atmosphere in the town centre at night was horrible. Really aggressive drunks all over the place. I’ve never done it since!

  3. I hate town centres at night for the same reason. I am sure this is an isolated incident. HB really is not that type of place!

  4. Yes, I’ve lived here since 1986 and it’s the first time that something like this has happened. There are quite often drunken teens about at the weekend as there are in most places but normally they are pretty harmless.

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