Im 40 years old, married, have two kids, and teach Physics at a Texas high school. Some of my students were talking about how theyd beat somebody down if they said something about somebody. One of them asked me what Id do if somebody called me out verbally or slapped my face. Would I retaliate? I think he assumed that Id knock somebody out if I was disrespected outside of a classroom environment. He wanted me to back him up in his argument.


I told him that Im not that way and Id never hit a person in anger in my adult life. Id been tempted. But Im not immature, a caveman, or deranged. I assured them both, in a few years, they wouldnt give a damn about who said what about whose mother. Sure, something might bother you, but you wont be socially expected to retaliate physically. "What an asshole. Who gives a shit what he thinks?" Thats really all youll be expected to say.


One kid says, "So, honestly, not one time? Not once since high school have you ever hit anybody?"

I was about to say yes, but realized I hadnt been totally honest. Id never been in a fight in more than 20 years. Come close. It just never happened. But once, when I went back to college to get my teaching certification at 30, I did kind of hit somebody. I wasnt angry at all. But I did mess somebody up pretty badly.


Im not going to give you a bunch of bullcrap about my martial arts training, proportional strength, and killer instinct. This is the internet. Whenever somebody says something like that you have to assume that theyre a thirteen-year-old ectomorph. I was in good shape though. I was at University of Texas in Austin and their PE classes were top notch. Every semester I would sign up for a weight lifting class and a Swai Chiao Kung Fu class for practically free when compared to the price of a gym.


With more than 50,000 undergraduates at UT, the periods between classes were a problem. There was a lot of traffic on the roads and thousands of people were walking to class. As a result, pedestrians always have right of way. If youre a jerk, you can take a nap in the street and cars have to wait for you to wake up or drive around. I was usually courteous. After all, cars are fast, people are slow. You can hesitate or walk at a slightly different angle to let cars go past before you cross the street.


I was approaching a four-way stop with no cars waiting at it so I just started walking across without looking over my shoulder first. A Supra runs the stop sign and turns in front of me. It passes so closely to my body that I had to pull a Matrix move to not be hit by the side view mirror or get my foot run over. The car then drives thirty feet down the street and does a U turn to go back the way it came. I was apparently giving the driver a dirty look, so he slams on his brakes (he was in an insane hurry a second ago, but now has time to stop and mess with me). A girl was in the front seat with him, presumably his girlfriend, so he feels he must posture to demonstrate hes an alpha male. He rolls down the window, leans forward, and says, "You want to say something, Bucko?"


I dont normally bait people that are obviously disturbed. But this guy was unbelievable. Bucko? Who the hell says Bucko? Did he think I was a cowboy? I certainly didnt look like one with my flip-flops and backpack. Besides, what the hell was he going to do, kick my ass out of the window? Was he going to abandon his girlfriend and car to attack me? So I walked up to his car window and leaned forward, "Yeah, I want to say something. How did you know my name was Bucko?"


The girl in the front seat laughs, so now its on. He starts to get out of the car, presumably to do me harm. I realize that Im kind of standing there, waiting patiently for him to get out of the car to try to kick my ass. So when hes halfway out, I kick the door shut on him. His head and one leg are in the door. Im pretty sure his head took more than its fair share. Im expecting him to get back in, but he doesnt. The door bounces back and he keeps on getting out. So I kick the door shut on him again. Hes pretty much out of the car now and he leans back to protect his head. It kind of gets him high on the chest. Not as bad this time, but it had to hurt. Hes almost out now, all he has to do is step out of the way of the door. I know its going to be the last time this trick is going to work. This time, I put some real strength into it I dont really kick the door, I put my flip-flopped foot on it and ram it into him. I dent the door visibly when it hits him. Hes got his hands up now, but it doesnt really help him that much. Its a big ass door and I really torqued out on it. He was further out now and it was the end of the door that hit him, not the middle this time. There was a lot more force. It was a ruinous blow. I was afraid Id given him brain damage. I know for sure that his nose pretty much got taken out. Blood just came pouring out of it.


Now he gets back in the car.


He sits in the front seat and rocks, holding his face in both hands, calling me "Motherfucker." He goes off in a string of unintelligible ranting like Robert De Niro at the end of Cape Fear and then another "Motherfucker." Im relieved that Ive not messed him up so badly that he doesnt remember to be pissed off. Hes so pissed, that hes not done with me yet. Hes still going to kick my ass.


He starts to crawl over his stick shift, center console, and girlfriend still buckled in to get out on the other side. While hes pushing the door open, I run around to the other side of the car and wait for him. "Come on out, Im sure itll work this time." He doesnt try to come out, but I push the door shut anyway, not slamming it. It doesnt shut all the way, so I give it another nudge closed. The guy has leaked nose blood all over his freaked out girlfriend crawling over her. He gets out of the other side, but Im already walking away, looking over my shoulder. Im not even sure what he yelled at me. He still wasnt all the way out, just standing between the car and the door, talking crap to me over the roof. What would he do if I ran back to his car? Would he jump back in? Would he still try to mix it up with a wrecked nose and whatever else was wrong with him? Would he really try to fight with a stranger when his nose was so wrecked, that if you pressed your thumb on it hes probably shit straight down his leg and pass out?


He gets back in, still swearing. Im picking out the occasional "Motherfucker" but cant really hear him. The weirdest thing about it is that there were literally hundreds of people all around. Everybody was walking to class and nobody said anything. It happened pretty fast and I didnt loiter, but nobody even really stopped to look. I wasnt expecting anybody to jump in or try to restrain me, but I was surprised that I didnt get a single, "holy shit, did you see that?" I wasnt even late to class.


Now that Im forty, ten years later, explaining this to two high school thugs, I know I didnt do the right thing. I should have ignored him and kept walking, so he could yell, "thats right, keep walking, pussy" as I went to class. I doubt I would have lost that much sleep over it. He could have been a psycho with a gun in his glove compartment. Im in Texas, anybody can get a concealed carry permit as long as youre not retarded or a felon. Being legally blind isnt even a deal breaker. I had a wife and a kid at home. Id feel pretty stupid bleeding to death in front of the bus turnaround out of a belly wound because I slammed a jerk in the car door. I tell my two students this, but even ten years later Im thinking, "Bucko... what a dumbass."

Uploaded 09/13/2008
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