Nothing lasts forever. You know that. Not even anger. It fades and is repressed, and well…other things become more important. I guess that is where the count-til-ten thing comes in. I was always told as a kid that I had a quick temper. I did a lot of counting, trying to control it. I have most of my life. Before I get to ten, I usually find a reason not to react negatively. To a person…to a situation. Sometimes it has worked. Sometimes it hasn’t.
I remember a gang in Jr. High(that is what we used to call middle-school). It was comprised of a big curly-haired guy, Jim, that had failed a couple years and was head and shoulders above most of the rest of us, a few toadies and the leader. The one at the helm of this crew was a smart-assed little shit who’s very nature begged confrontation. My first encounter with “short-man syndrome”. Don’t get me wrong…he wasn’t just mouthy…he loved to back it up. A real fighter. Under “aggressive” in the encyclopedia, this kid had several entries. Anything he waded into that he saw he couldn’t handle was usually finished by Big Jim, his back-up.
Most boys in the school deferred to their rule. If the gang needed money, or were just feeling particularly pushy…well their victim was quickly abandoned by the rest of us. They got their money or their sadistic satisfaction, and most everyone else turned a blind eye. I’m sure most of you men went through such circumstances in your boyhood. It happens. It always will, I guess. I was no different. When I saw them beating hell out of some kid, I walked away. Usually. It wasn’t any of my business. The kid probably had it coming. Until one day. The afore-mentioned gang leader had a friend of mine up against the building with a club in his hand threatening to beat him senseless if he didn’t give him money, or say uncle or some such.
I walked up to my friend and told him we had to get home and that it was getting late. “He ain’t goin nowhere till I get finished with him”, the little hoodlum said. I merely said, “he’s leaving with me now”…all the while counting in my head. The bully looked at me and released my friend. Since I was a good foot taller than the kid, he just said “this ain’t over, pal”. I knew it wasn’t. But we walked away uninjured. That day.
Of course a week didn’t go by that I was confronted in a hallway by my new enemy. I started counting when I saw him coming. He had a few members of his crew with him and so a renewed courage to finish what I had started. Unfortunately for him, I got to ten before he even had a chance to throw a punch. I snapped. I picked him up and literally threw him head-first into a row of metal lockers, denting a couple of doors with his cranium in the process. He slid to the floor and everyone scattered. A teacher witnessed the whole thing. Even his lummox of a friend, Big Jim, just stood there gawking as the kid attempted to get up. “What did you do that for?” he screamed as we were both dragged to the principal’s office. I was suspended and the smart-ass was put on notice to keep clear of me for the remainder of the year…which he did.
Now I am not relating this story to brag about my prowess then or now. It is not meant as a vain attempt at heroism on my part, in the least. You often ask yourself “I wonder what ever happened to so and so”. Jim finally passed the 9th grade and went into the Navy,but my diminutive adversary was in and out of jail most of his young adult life. Then one day while being stopped for a traffic violation, he pulled a gun and murdered the cop. He was executed for the crime. He was 30 years old, I believe. I guess I count myself lucky that I never came upon him again in my adult life. The guy was not right. There are such people in the world.
This is a true story. And although not meant to be a “tale of brave Ulysses”, to me it speaks to something I am at a loss to find in others. What makes most people angry enough to get to ten and still be upset enough to do something about it?
There are so many short men in seats of power it seems. All with their gang members. They are not right. They deserve a countdown…then a reaction. And I am not talking about peaceful protest or civil disobedience. Or turning a blind eye when some other guy is getting hell beat out of him.
Maybe I am still a bit quick-tempered. But even if you are the long-fuse type, hasn’t it burned down yet? Haven’t you reached ten several times and are lying to yourself about how you should finally react?
I do a delicate balancing act on this site. I don’t preach violence…but I am amazed there isn’t more of it. And I don’t mean manufactured “lone-gunman” human interest stories. Those evening news tales meant to keep you counting ten for fear that you will finally snap. How many more rights do you let them take from you? How many more people in the world do you let them kill in the name of their profit, and in your name? How long will you look for a job? How much more interest will you pay them on their loans for your very subsistence? How many more lies will you listen to? When do you snap?
I always felt that if I could count ten…and was still fighting mad, then I had a perfect right to be. This has always been my “anger management” technique. It works. Maybe you’re too comfy. If so, please don’t vilify congress-critters for deifying israhell in exchange for the almighty dollar. Not to me. I’m busy counting.