Do the Right Thing


My friend Audwin stood calmly in the middle of the street dialing his cell phone while an older White man, towered over him screaming obscenities. "I'll kick your f*cking ass! Ya pussy! Ya punk!" Audwin rolled his eyes and looked at his watch. He was definitely going to be late for his meeting now. "How had it come to this?" He thought to himself.

 "See, this was supposed to be a normal day. Just like any other, before all this crap happened." Audwin lamented. It was Sunday morning and we were sitting in his living room as he told me this story. I sat on his black, leather couch and he sat in his black leather recliner. I typically used this time as an excuse to get out of the house for a little while and discuss The Meaning of Life™ (one of my favorite subjects). In a few hours he would leave, making his way to the South Side of Chicago, to check on his parents. I know this because he does it every Sunday. That's the thing about Aud, he is an extremely methodical, creature of habit. It is his greatest strength and it has served him pretty well over the years. It is the reason he has his own business as an insurance agent. It is the reason he has been studying guitar for the past four years. And it is the reason he is a black belt in Karate. In fact sitting in the corner of his living room collecting dust, are several large trophies he earned, in fighting competitions. Where most folks would merely dream about doing something and eventually lose interest, he sets a course and pursues it doggedly. But more than being just extremely disciplined, Audwin is a good man. In fact, he is one of my best friends in the world.

"So I'm on my way to work, waiting at the light when this guy rear-ends me." He continued. "I'm like, Great. Just what I need. So I pull over and hop out to assess the damage. The guy gets out of his car. He's an older White gentleman and the first thing I notice is he's got a gimp leg. He apologizes saying he just misjudged the distance. No big deal. There didn't appear to be much damage. I tell him that just to be sure, I wanted to take it to my mechanic to make sure there is no structural damage. That's when he starts. He walks up on me and starts yelling, "You're trying to run a scam on me!" I try to assure him that I'm not, I'm an insurance agent and I do this kind of thing for a living. He moves closer and continues screaming, "Ya pussy! Ya punk, I'll kick your f*cking ass!" I'm trying to reason with him but he keeps closing the gap, getting louder and louder. So here I am, standing in the middle of a busy street in my suit, late for a meeting and It's taking everything in me to suppress the urge to sweep this cats back leg and take his gimpy-ass out.

Instead I decide to do the right thing. I get on the phone and call the Westchester police. I tell them the problem and they direct me to come into the police department to fill out an accident report. The entire time I'm on the phone, this guy is yelling at me. I interrupt his tirade and tell him to follow me to the police department.

We get to the station and the Sargent comes out to take the report. Right away, he assumes I'm the one who caused the accident and starts giving me attitude. Now granted, I know this is Westchester and I know it's a predominantly White community, trust me, I know because my office is in Westchester. But c'mon! This is the twenty-first century! He's going to give me attitude before even knowing the story? What kind of crap is that?

When he finished taking the report, I tell him that I want to also fill out a complaint because the guy was also threatening me. Right away the cop says, "You can't prove any of that. It's hearsay!" So I'm like, "What?! You're not even going to take my complaint?" "No. It's all hearsay!" So now I'm like this is some bull! I could have avoided all of this by taking gimpy out when we were on the street! It would have been handled!

"Anyway man, I was in class later that week and I told my Sensei this story. He told me I did the right thing. The reality is I would have probably ended up trying to explain to a judge why I beat up an old man with a bum leg. The judge would have probably said, "So let me get this straight Mr. Rowe, am I to understand that you beat up an old man about twenty years your senior?" "Yes sir." "An old man with an obvious disability?" "Umm…" "Am I to further understand that you have your black belt in Karate?" "Uh, yeah…but you don't understand, he had it coming." "I see. Mr. Rowe, typically instances like this don't warrant the death penalty but I'm going to make an exception in your case."

I told my Sensei it didn't feel like I had done the right thing. After all was said and done, I think I would have felt justified in beating his ass and issuing some street justice!" "Yeah." My Sensei said, "Sometimes doing the right thing feels like you just got punked."

"So you're really going to post that story on your blog?" Audwin asked. "Yeah." I said. He thought for a second before asking, "Can we change the ending and have me beat dude's ass?" "No," I said, "I think that would be missing the greater point." "Yeah, I guess." He sighed. "But for the record, I still think it's some bull!"

Wynton Marsalis: The Struggle Continues

Proving my Point