My father and I are very different. He’s loud and confrontational and I tend to get lost in any group larger than four people. Make him mad and you’ll know. I’m the opposite. It is really hard to offend me and you would have to try really hard to make me yell.
Recently I did two things that really surprised me.
First, I was in a restaurant/bar with my daughter. She was singing karaoke and a really drunk guy kept hitting on her. He was about 40 and she was 17. When he started touching her I tapped him on the shoulder and shared a few words with him. Two minutes later he left the restaurant and didn’t come back. I didn’t threaten him per se, but I think he saw in my eyes that he was on dangerous ground.
Today I was in my allergist’s office. They have a policy about staying there 30 minutes after an injection because you could have an allergic reaction and die if they don’t attend to you right away. It’s a bit of CYA, but I have always complied with the policy.
Right after my injection I got an important phone call that was critical to one of my girls. I can’t say what the call was about, but imagine a highly confidential call that has to be taken in that second or else.
I got up and headed for the outside door.
The nurse told me I couldn’t go outside. I told her I needed to take the call.
She told me to stay inside.
I asked, “Do you have a gun?”
She said she didn’t and I walked outside. I didn’t see her again, but the doc came out with a concerned look on his face in about 45 seconds.
Driving home I chuckled to myself about the gun comment even though I felt bad about upsetting the nurse. The words just blurted out of me and I wondered where they came from.
It didn’t take long to realize I was acting like my father in both situations. While I almost never model his aggressive behavior, when my kids are threatened, my reaction is completely instinctive. I rarely confront anyone, but my father taught me how. I should thank him for that someday.
Fiction is similar. While most of us never have a chance to be heroic, books and movies give us a recipe for good decision making in a crisis. (And you thought they were just for fun.)
If an earthquake hit or if terrorists attacked your neighborhood, who would be your guide?