I’ve been away, as you may have noticed. I simply have too much going on right now but I had something happen that I just had to share.
“The courage we desire and prize is not the courage to die decently, but to live manfully.” Thomas Carlyle
I’m sorry if this story offends you.
Some of you will identify with my experience. Some won’t. Still, some will learn something from it.
This is a true story. Only the name of the sandwich shop has been removed.
A friend and I were meeting at a sandwich shop to discuss a business opportunity and my wife wanted to tag along. The sandwich shop sits smack dab between a business sector and the rougher side of town. The clientele that day was a mixture of mostly business people, but also a few from the nearby neighborhood.
My wife and I arrived shortly before noon to find my friend waiting in his car. We went inside together and got in line with about 5 or 6 people in front of us. My wife (who was obviously very pregnant) left us in line and went to the restroom. At that stage of her pregnancy she never got very far without looking for the restroom.
As soon as she walked away from us the lunch crowd began streaming in and within just a couple of minutes a long line had formed behind my friend and me. The line grew from 5 or 6 to about 35 people in a very short period of time. The sandwich shop was understaffed and the line didn’t seem to be moving at all.
Just Minding My Own Business
It was hot and humid day.
Because the place was small, everyone was in each other’s space. The line wasn’t moving and the crowd was restless. Everyone was frustrated about the slow line. There was electricity in the air.
Something was bound to happen; I just didn’t know I would be at the center of it.
Before I get into that…
I’m curious about what motivates other people…
…to act the way they act,
…to dress the way they dress,
…to walk the way they walk,
…to talk the way they talk…
I usually watch people to see if I can figure out who they are and what their story is.
While we were waiting a woman and her boyfriend had come in with the crowd and were directly behind me in the line. They appeared to be from the neighborhood. She and her muscular boyfriend were taking up more space than average, mostly because she couldn’t seem to stand still – and worse, she was mumbling under her breath the whole time. Hearing her mumbling what sounded like gibberish made me uncomfortable.
I wondered if she was crazy.
I guessed that they had just had an argument by the expression on his face and her constant mumbling.
But that wasn’t all.
She had several scars on her arms and one at her temple, near her right eye. If it had been just a bit longer she would have lost her eye. These were not small scars either.
My imagination kicked into overdrive. I was pretty sure she’d been in numerous knife fights to get all those scars. Her boyfriend stood behind her with his arms crossed and added to her intimidating look.
I really didn’t know what to think about this pair. She made me nervous with her looks and her mumbling, so I decided to keep my eyes forward and mind my own business.
Awwww No – You Not Gonna Ignore Me Homeboy!
My wife returned from the bathroom and rejoined me in line. You can already see where this is going, can’t you?
The woman behind me wasn’t happy. Her mumbling suddenly became very loud. She started ranting and flailing her arms as she began rattling off all kinds of obscenities about how it wasn’t right that people could cut in line in front of others.
Naturally, her words and actions attracted attention and I realized she was looking at me as she spoke. My first thought was to ignore her hoping she would just quiet down.
As you can guess, that’s not what happened.
When I turned away from her, she shouted at me, “Awwww no, you not gonna ignore me homeboy!”
When she said that I had to look back at her…who wouldn’t? I can still see the way she was holding her arms in the air and the way she tilted her head to the side.
Everything began moving in slow motion. I distinctly recall that I felt a lump forming in my throat. I felt angry that this person was cursing at me and my wife and saying other things that I couldn’t understand.
And now she was calling me out in front of the whole restaurant! I don’t usually care for public attention – especially not this kind of attention. I was angry that she was making me the center of attention.
My response to her will probably surprise you.
Now, if I were trying to build myself up in your eyes, I would tell you how I physically confronted her and made her back down.
After all, that’s what a real man would do, isn’t it?
And that’s exactly the way I handled the situation…
…well, not really.
As men, we should always be in control of our thoughts and emotions – and we should not always be focused on imposing our will with our appearance/physique if there is another way.
Yeah, That’s Exactly What I Was Thinking at That Moment
To be completely honest, in the heat of the moment I wasn’t thinking any of these noble thoughts.
My true motivation was to diffuse situation. I knew if that didn’t work I might have a fight on my hands.
But it was also clear to me that I may not be able fight both of them off.
The woman’s erratic movements made her a wildcard and I still had images in my mind of all the knife fights she had surely been in.
Then there was her big boyfriend – he wasn’t exactly Mr. Friendly either – he looked like he was already mad about something.
My friend was elderly and was too feeble to be counted on. I had no weapons for self-defense with me.
My true concern was that I didn’t feel there was any way I could adequately protect my wife and unborn child if a fight did break out.
BUT – it was still up to me to do something because she was not letting it go. She kept going on and on with the expletives and loud complaining – all directed at me.
Confrontation Was Unavoidable
The moment for action was at hand – we were at a tipping point.
I was experiencing one of those fight or fade moments – and I knew it.
What about you?
We all face challenges, although most are not as direct or public as the one I’m describing to you.
What would you do in this situation? Take a moment to imagine yourself there in my shoes.
Everyone is looking at you.
It’s crunch time.
It’s just you in the spotlight – all alone.
Action is required.
The only weapons at your disposal are the spiritual, mental, physical and character traits developed during your life.
How have you spent your time? Have you spent it playing video games, or looking at junk online, or in purposeful pursuits, like building your mind, body and soul?
Have you wasted your valuable time on trivial pursuits, or will your preparation be enough when the challenge comes knocking at your door?
What we do with the majority of our time determines whether we’re prepared for these kinds of challenges.
Here I was minding my own business and this person was cursing me loud enough for an entire restaurant of people to hear.
Still, I knew that I could not let her get away with that kind of behavior.
Here’s what I did when faced with this challenge:
Without any time for thought or planning, my subconscious kicked in. Because of a sudden rush of adrenaline, I had all the courage I needed. I acted without much thought at all – I just followed my gut.
I turned my body completely around to face the two of them squarely.
I looked directly at them and spoke calmly and deliberately, but firmly — and loud enough to be heard by everyone.
My honor was being assaulted and I wanted everyone in the restaurant to hear me clearly. My dad taught me never to apologize or back down when I’ve done nothing to be ashamed of.
I looked right at the woman and asked her the following question;
“Do you have a problem with my wife getting back in line with me?”
Without giving her the chance to answer I followed up with,
“My wife was allll-ready in line before you got here, but for some strange reason she couldn’t wait to go to the restroom.”
I cut my eyes to my wife’s protruding stomach. The woman’s eyes broke away from mine as she focused on my wife’s pregnant belly too.
I could have stopped there – I’m not sure exactly how things would have turned out if I had stopped there…but I felt that I had momentum on my side at this point.
So I kept going and what I said next surprised everyone in the place, including me.
“BUT…” I said,
(there was a pregnant pause as I formulated the next few words in my mind)
“You are both welcome to move ahead of us in the line,”
(short pause) “if that will make you feel better.”
The woman was visibly staggered and she couldn’t say anything for a moment.
It was the first time she had been silent since she came in.
As I was speaking I had moved to the side and motioned for her to go ahead of us, making broad and exaggerated movements with my hands and arms.
In real life, in the heat of the moment, with everyone looking on, I had landed a Mike Tyson style uppercut with only a few words.
Now that I’m writing the words here, they seem pretty tame.
I know this seems totally weird. I know it sounds completely crazy – that I offered her exactly what she wanted.
You see, now that I had made my response, it was totally obvious to everyone there just how foolish she had been to make such a big deal about one person cutting line in front of her.
My tone, the words I chose, and my movements had made a mockery of the whole situation and of her behaviour.
My words had not only drawn emphasis to the fact that she was complaining over a really trivial issue, but that she was also completely in the wrong.
Everyone could now see this clearly, including her.
As soon as the words left my mouth it was as if a switch had been flipped and her whole demeanor changed.
In fact, the lump in my throat dissolved at that very moment because I knew I had won the argument. Her posture showed me that she was done.
After I made my statement, I realized our “little discussion” had attracted an audience of 35 or more people (basically the whole restaurant). For a place that was so tightly packed with people it had become eerily quiet. Not a single person was speaking other than me.
Everyone had dropped their conversations to see how our confrontation would play out.
I almost laughed when I saw a very short guy standing on his knees in his chair, looking over a cardboard soda display to see what was going on.
And then I realized something else – All eyes were on me!
Her big, muscular boyfriend noticed the attention too and was embarrassed. He scolded the woman under his breath.
I observed everything in mere milliseconds but it seemed like a lifetime. My focus was suddenly jolted back to the two in front of me when I heard him scolding her.
She put her head down and finally responded to my last question asking whether they wanted to move in front of us.
She mumbled under her breath, “Naw, it’s alright”.
I was really on my game now, and just wasn’t ready to let it go yet, so I said loudly, “Are you absolutely sure?”
“I wouldn’t want any hard feelings between you and me?”
I heard someone snicker in the background.
The woman couldn’t bring herself to look me in the eyes – her humiliation was complete.
After a couple of seconds her boyfriend broke the silence by saying, “Maaaan, I’m sorry. She got a loud mouth sometime.” He waved his hands to dismiss her.
And then I noticed it – His posture had slumped too – and he didn’t look so big anymore.
Amazingly, he had taken on the role of the beta male in our exchange.
Just like that, the tension was completely broken, the confrontation dissolved away, and the whole episode was over
…or so I thought.
What Happened Next Surprised Me
As my attention broke away from what was going on with these two, I looked beyond them and scanned the restaurant. I observed that everyone was still looking at me, but four or five of the men who were watching made direct eye contact with me.
I was surprised by how many made a point of looking me in the eye. One guy nodded his head in approval. Several flashed a smile, and one even gave me a thumbs-up.
I felt something that was like embarrassment, but not really. What I really felt, after the immediate surprise wore off, was a sense of pride that I cannot describe.
I just stood there basking in the limelight for a moment.
BUT – What Happened Next REALLY Blew Me Away!
Those are the only words I can think of to describe what happened next.
While I was noticing the guys looking at me, I began to notice not just one or two, but SEVERAL of the girls/women in the crowd looking at me.
These women were smiling at me and making sustained and direct eye contact.
Some of them were with their boyfriends or husbands but that didn’t matter at all!
I don’t know about you, but most of the time when I see an unfamiliar woman in a public place, it seems that she is shy and won’t maintain eye contact, for fear that I’ll notice. It’s as if she has an unconscious barrier in her mind that says, “Don’t let him see me looking”.
But it was then that I realized something – something I had never experienced before.
I had broken through the veil!
You see, these women were all looking directly at me and they didn’t care that I saw them looking at me.
I could clearly see four or five women looking directly at me AND THEY WEREN’T EVEN TRYING TO HIDE IT.
In that moment, I remember thinking that this must be what it was like to be a famous athlete or rock star.
As I looked back, taking it all in, I noticed something else – something that made my skin tingle all over.
I do not mean to exaggerate…
…but a couple of the women appeared to be turned on. I feel weird saying this, but I’m just sharing what I saw.
Why do I say this?
Have you ever seen a woman with that “come hither” look?
Heads were lowered, eyebrows were raised, eyes were wide open, pupils were dilated, and cheeks were flushed.
I kid you not – one woman actually touched her upper lip with the tip of her tongue while maintaining the longest gaze and then rubbed her lips together as if she were spreading lipstick.
And this – they were all smiling at me, each and every one of them,
But not just any smile.
A smile that’s hard to describe…it was sort of a shy smile…but everything about their faces told me shyness was not the emotion they were feeling.
I cannot adequately describe all the subtle changes to a woman’s face when she gives this look, but I know it when I see it.
A few of you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve seen the look yourself, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In case you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing “the look”, here are a couple of sample photos:
Okay, in case you’re wondering, these are not two of the girls who were there that day.
And, I don’t recall any of the girls looking quite this good or being dressed as provocatively, but you get my point, don’t you?
I could feel my cheeks flush a bit as I took it all in. All I could do was flash a broad smile back at each of them.
You know how I said earlier that the air was electric? That was now an understatement. It was even more so now and electricity was flowing from the crowd into me.
And then it hit me – I was still the center of everyone’s attention even though the confrontation had died down.
But now, instead of being angry about it, I was enjoying it!
And it was all because I had displayed confident and masculine behavior (alpha male), by taking control of the situation and diffusing it.
The fact that I had put the unruly woman in her place and shut her down had impressed those in the audience.
Society tells us that we have to be nice…that exhibiting our masculinity is rude.
I don’t want to get off topic though, so that’s a discussion for another time.
The truth is that I hadn’t felt particularly confident when I first began speaking – it was probably just the adrenaline from the fight or flight syndrome that made me speak loud and clear.
But, now – now that I had begun to grasp the reactions I was seeing – I felt a second rush of confidence and empowerment.
It was the kind of confidence and empowerment you can only feel when you realize you are the man other men wish they could be and the kind of man that women want to be with.
Some of you will read this and think I’m a conceited jerk for that last statement. I don’t write this with the intention of bragging.
I’m retracting my earlier apology too. A man should never apologize for being true to himself.
I can only report on what I observed that day in the hopes that my experiences will benefit you in some way.
An Observation: Your Actions = Reaction
- The reactions being broadcast by the men and women in my audience were the direct result of my actions.
- My actions were not purposely directed toward them, but their reactions were definitely and purposely directed toward me.
- They each intended their reactions to be received by me; otherwise they wouldn’t have sought to make eye contact with me.
- Their reactions were simply the byproduct of them seeing a true man acting out of his natural masculinity and confidence.
As I said earlier, everything was happening in slow motion for me, and, even now, as I look back on this incident, I can remember it in such vivid detail that it seems like I was standing outside of myself watching it unfold as a spectator would.
I’ve only had one other similar experience – although not as pleasant – when I had a near fatal auto accident and saw my life flash before my eyes in a matter of seconds.
But that’s a different story for a different day.
Back to Minding My Own Business (Or So I Thought)
At some point, I turned back toward the front of the line and we continued working our way to the check out. All this excitement had made me even hungrier.
People started talking to one another again and things began returning to normal. I began to come off my high, thinking the experience was finished but still pondering what had just happened.
My focus turned back toward ordering my sandwich. When I paid, I was surprised because the cashier looked me directly in the eye and smiled at me. I don’t know about you, but that seldom happens these days.
Then she said, “Thank you so much for coming in today.” She never broke eye contact but winked at me while asking, “Would you like a cookie?” I declined, but she insisted that I take one and that it was her treat.
How could I resist that offer? I took a chocolate chip cookie and said “thank you”. I have to admit I was flattered but a bit confused at the same time. Why did I just get a free cookie?
As we moved away from the line and made our way to a booth, my friend said, “You sure put her in her place didn’t you?” referring to the loud woman in line.
I told him that I was really just trying to diffuse the situation and hadn’t intended to make such a scene (which was the truth).
Apparently he had also seen the women in the crowd looking at me because he commented that a few of the women might want my phone number.
Whoa! I thought I was the only one who had noticed.
I wasn’t. My wife noticed too.
What’s Better Than A Cookie?
When we were finally seated I looked at my wife for the first time since the whole incident had ended. As we made eye contact, my eyes blinked and cut away. I could feel that she was still looking intently at me, so I looked back to see what she might be about to say.
To my surprise, right there in front of my friend, I realized she was giving me the same look that I had gotten from some of the other women a few minutes earlier.
Then she said in a low voice, “You might get more than a cookie when we get back home.”
I was stunned (and a little turned on – okay, not just a little).
My friend jokingly offered that maybe we needed to get a room at a nearby hotel.
Lunch was rushed. I’m sure you understand why. We finished our meals and I quickly wrapped up the meeting.
I’ll leave the rest to your imagination – this is my wife we’re talking about.
To this day, whenever I see my friend he brings up this confrontation and re-tells the story to whoever we are with. To my amazement, he spends the most time talking about the women who were looking at me. His version of the story sounds even better than mine.
I have had other confrontations, though none with a built-in audience like this one.
Some of those ended up with me in a fight. Still though, none of the other confrontations have made such a lasting impression on me.
So, how about you?
Maybe you know exactly how I felt that day and how alive I still feel right now as I recall the situation.
How did you handle your situation? Do you wish you had handled it differently?
Do you ever wish you could respond to life’s challenges with courage and confidence?
Courage and confidence are not something you just put on one day. They are grown through your life experiences, whether good or bad. They are the result of the most fundamental parts of your soul being exposed during a crisis. Playing it safe won’t develop courage or confidence in your character. You won’t have either of them to fall back on in a crisis if you aren’t at least striving toward the life you were meant to live. If you’re stuck in a life (in a job, relationship, etc.) that’s going nowhere, without gaining traction on any of your goals you will lack courage and confidence.
I discuss confidence building techniques constantly on my blog. These are not just psychological mumbo jumbo or hocus pocus tricks to make you feel better, but they are techniques which lead you to a more fulfilling and successful life.
Let me hear your thoughts below.