July 20, 2006
Location: Sagada, Mountain Province, Philippines
Catching the First Bus
It was 4:30 am in Sagada as I was waiting for the first trip to Baguio. There were only a handful of people around that early, most of whom were catching the first trip as well.
The Angry Drunk
A drunk approached me asking if I had a problem. Obviously, he was looking for a fight. I replied that I had no problem and looked far and away, avoiding eye contact. He wouldn't let up though. He said, "Let's fight!"
Fight or Flight?
Normally, a situation like this calls for either of two things: fight or flight. I could probably take this guy on but a fight was the farthest thing on my mind. Besides, Sagada is my Shangrila. I don't want to have an enemy here. Flight? If I do that, I lose face...not in a small town where everybody can talk about you (and the tail tucked between your legs). Either way I do it, I lose. What to do? I tried to talk my way out of the situation.
Me (calmly): "Why are you upset? What happened?"
Drunk (angry): "You woke me up. Let's have it and fight!"
Me: "I woke you up? No, you have the wrong guy. I was just standing here the last 10 minutes"
Drunk: "It doesn't matter. Fight me!"
Me: "Why fight me? I was not the one who woke you up. (deflecting the anger) I'd be mad too, if somebody woke me up. You didn't recognize the guy?"
Drunk: "No, I didn't."
Me (pretending to be angry at the guy who woke the drunk): Fuck! That's not right. People shouldn't be doing that!
Drunk (calmer): "Yeah"
With that non-aggressive remark, I threw a red herring and asked him where he was going. He explained that he drove a jeep that plies the Sagada-Bontoc route. I further asked him what the road conditions were, to Bontoc, diverting his attention completely away from his agitation. From thereon, we carried on a conversation. By the time I was to board my bus, he even put his arm on my shoulder, shook my hand (in a brotherly drunk kinda way) and told me to be careful on my trip.
Upon boarding the bus, a fellow passenger approached me, and with a grin on his face said, "It was me! (who woke the guy up)". Oh well, there's one in every crowd.
A Third Option
It could have been a senseless slugfest or a face-losing backdown (in the context of Philippine machismo). But not only was a fight/flight averted, an ad hoc friendship developed in what was initially an explosive situation. What just happened there?
Well, firstly, I wasn't scared...not because I'm a tough guy, but because I knew he was just mistaken and not completely in control of his senses. Had he smelled fear, he would have been all over me like gangbusters. Secondly, as Mimsy in her yogic way explained, I came from a position of compassion (even though it was more to avert a fight). It's true though. The guy felt wronged and he just wanted compassion or at least someone who can see things his way. Thirdly, I felt an ethereal energy that assured me nothing wrong was going to happen, which in effect, allowed me to calmly assess the situation and talk to the guy the way I did.
I remember a similar situation in Canada during the wee hours where I was just 10 feet behind a bunch of very angry guys, one of whom was bloodied. The group was kicking trash cans and bicycles. I was surprisingly unafraid. I just walked straight pretending they weren't in front of me. They cursed anyone within sight and challenged everyone to a fight. Surprisingly again, they didn't confront me nor even looked at me. It was though I didn't exist there at that moment. That was the first time I felt that kind of energy that assured me nothing wrong was going to happen.
I think that if you see beyond fear and not be reactive, you start seeing the person. The aberrant behavior becomes a plea for compassion. Not unlike saying, "love me, love me". I used to say, share the love. It's served me well in more ways than one.
--- Gigit (TheLoneRider)
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
The following people like this:
(July 5, 2012) I would have whimpered like a dog.
(July 5, 2012) Nice story Gigit! Very useful tactic :D
(July 5, 2012) 4 thumbs up if I have 2 extras! :) nice one Gigit!
(July 5, 2012) Nice going Gigit!!!!
(July 5, 2012) Thumbs up talaga blogs mo Kuya Gigit!
(Jan 12, 2011) "C'mon guv'ner, just bust the cheesehead in the chops and be done with it. ;)"
(8 Aug 2006) Wisdom written well, very well.
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