Hans and Wifesy were walking in front of May and I. I don’t know what they were chatting about, but May and I were discussing Hans’s job as the building manager. We were talking about their difficult Latin neighbor and how Hans has been handling it.
Just then, Wifesy and Hans stopped on the sidewalk and turned around. They stopped us too and said, “Hold on, the guy up there is on something. He might be cracked out or out of his mind, we don’t know. But, he’s leaning against the side of that building and either puking or peeing.”
Interesting, I thought. Neither May nor I had seen him. Hans and Wifesy had been walking in front and both of them had witnessed the man behaving erratically. The man peeled himself off the building and then walked towards – wait for it – his car. He stood outside the driver side door and fumbled with his keys. At this point, we had all started walking towards him again. Now we could all see it for what it was – he was blind drunk.
Blind drunk and about to get in his car.
Hans quickened his pace until he was a good 7 feet in front of all of us. “Hey man. Hey man, you don’t want to do that,” he said.
The guy looked up from his car and I braced myself for what might be a fight.
Wifesy was behind Hans and let out a slightly more accusatory, “You’re really drunk.”
“You don’t want to do that man. You’ll ruin your life,” Hans said. “You can lose your license for something like 27 years.”
“I’m fine,” said the guy.
Wifesy – and I could tell because I truly know this woman by now – was gearing up to stick a “we’ll call the police” in there when Hans said, “Where are you going, man?”
And the guy said, “I’m staying just over there by the hotel.”
“I’ll drive you,” said Hans. “I live in the neighborhood, right around the corner, and I’ll drive you.”
With that, the most amazing thing happened – the guy handed over the keys. He almost looked relieved.
I gave Hans a hug goodbye and thanked him for a nice dinner. May, Hans’s girlfriend, gave us a hug too and asked the drunk gentleman if she should get in the front or the back of the car. He insisted that she get in the front with Hans.
Then the blind drunk man got in the back of his own car.
Hans drove him and parked the car in front of the place where he was staying for the night.
As the man got out, he thanked them, but before he did, the man paused and said, “Wow, I’m really drunk.”
What was awesome to me about the interaction was the way Hans diffused the situation. Maybe because of our genders, maybe because of our natures (I’m not sure) if Wifesy and I had to deal with the situation alone, I feel it would’ve spiraled into an accusatory fight. But, Hans talked to him like a bro. One dude to another. He simply helped the man keep his dignity and kept him safe. This is the most difficult thing to do in almost confrontation situations.
A girl handles them differently, but a girl can still handle them.
I remember getting on a Lothian bus in the UK a few years back. I had been waiting at the bus stop moments before and there was a man there, along with some other people. How do I put this plainly? I didn’t like his energy. He was standing to close to everyone and everything about him was a little, “in your face.”
Sure enough, we got on the crowded bus and the guy was agitated. All I could think was, “he’s going to start a fight with someone.”
A nice fellow, older, late 40s, got on the bus with his wife. Now, if we need to get really primitive here – this is the worst of situations. The minute a man feels he has to protect something he cares about, the whole confrontation is going to ratchet up a notch. Within minutes, the agitated man said something to the nice fellow and his wife. There were words. The agitated fellow was inviting the nice fellow off the bus to really have at it. I couldn’t take this anymore. Brits (and a lot of Americans for that matter) tend to mind there business, but not New Yorkers. We get into everyone’s. It’s like part of our DNA. I placed my hand on the back of the nice fellow’s jacket and I said, “You don’t want to do this. He’s been like that since before we got on the bus. He’s looking to pick a fight with anyone.” I could – literally – feel the nice fellow relax. All the tension in his back washed away as I said this. He motioned to his wife and the three of us walked up the stairs to the second level and away from crazy.
I don’t always hit the sweet spot correctly in these situations, but I did that day on the Lothian bus.
It’s also different for a woman. She can’t always be the peacemaker she wants to be because as a woman you’re ALWAYS thinking about not putting yourself into dangerous situations.
Wifesy and I talked about Hans on the way home. “It was terrific how he diffused that situation with a sentence or two,” I said.
“Yeah, it was,” said Wifesy. “It was really a guy to guy thing, you know.”
“Yep, I’d agree.”
“Sad we could never do the same though.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, think about it. If you and I were alone together, we’re not going to offer to drive a man’s car somewhere for him, even if he’s blind drunk, even if there are two of us.”
I knew she was right. There are certain things that you can do as a gent, that it just wouldn’t be wise to do as a woman. Interesting, isn’t it?
Sweet Mother is updated daily-ish. If you’d like to follow this blog, you can do so by clicking the “follow” button in the upper, right hand corner.
You might also like: