Trail Safe Encounters on the Trail
Let me throw out yet another sweeping and scary generalization: Every potentially violent situation is a matter of life or death. Act accordingly. Click back to the 24-hour animal channel and our pals Ms. Lion and Mr. Wildebeest. Do you think that Mr. Wildebeest ever thinks to himself, "Well, she really doesn't look that hungry; maybe we're just going to have a tussle"? Every violent encounter between lion and wildebeest determines who will be dinner and who will not, and neither the diner nor the dinner has any illusions about that.
Humans on the other hand, having highly evolved brains and all, possess the apparently unique ability to convince ourselves of alternative realities. We think: "He's not really going to hurt me; he just wants my PowerBars. I can expect some minor pushing and shoving; it won't be a real fight. As long as I agree to everything, I won't encounter serious danger." Rarely will such conflicts be so pleasant, so don't count on it.
Even if we have trained extensively in some sort of self-defense exercise, we tend to underestimate violent encounters for what they can develop into. Over the years, I've spent a lot of time in martial arts dojos. Often I'd get caught in a round of what-ifs. I'd usually get the what-ifs from a newly minted black belt who wanted to explain to me that he or she was indeed someone to be reckoned with. The conversation would normally proceed thusly: "What if you're in a bar, and a guy comes up and calls you a (fill in the blank)? What I'd do is (grab, twist, snatch) his (arm, nose, private parts) and (throw, drag, kick) him right out the door! What would you do?"
I always answered the same way: "I'd get up and leave the bar."
This usually guarantees a moment of silence, followed by, "But what if he spits on your boots and says your shirt looked like a beach towel with barf on it (or something along those lines)? Then what would you do?"
"Well, gee, I'd still get up and leave."
Keeping in mind that every potential confrontation is a matter of life or death, does it seem wise to have a confrontation over my poor choice in shirts (or drinking establishments)? Obviously it does not. First and foremost, choose avoidance. Because if you choose violence someone gets eaten, and that someone will likely be you.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication