Three boys around fourteen years old, skate-rat punks who looked like the demon’s helpers in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, walked in as I placed down my coffee, home brought walnuts, iPad and hot-off-the-presses new book on a table.
Oblivious to any social code and no regard for the obviousness of how I could stomp him like an empty soda can, the lanky one, the apparent leader, approached me as I was about to sit, proceeded to drop his book bag by my feet, and then absconded with the other chair at my table.
Without asking for permission. No eye contact. No nothing.
Instantaneously I puffed up and said, “Hey man, how do you know I don’t need that?”
Now please believe me when I say that I didn’t act aggressively because I felt disrespected. Or slighted. Or like I needed to prove something to myself or to him. I couldn’t have cared less what this little lord of the flies thought of me.
It’s just that I was in the right place at the right time to be of service.
I guarantee this wasn’t the first time he thought he was too cool for school. And I guarantee that one day he’s going to, knowingly or not, push the wrong person just a bit too far. And his dumb friends won’t be there to have his back. So, just maybe, he’ll think twice next time.
Now, to review, I asked, “Hey man, how do you I don’t need that?”
He smiled a cocky smile and looked over to his friends.
They lifted their eyes to me and simultaneously chose to bury their pimpled faces into their phones.
His smile slipped off his lips.
He said, “Oh. I’m sorry,” and started dragging the chair back my way.
But I said gently, “No man, don’t sweat it. I don’t need it. Keep it. But you know, just be cool.”
He, now looking like a little boy, smiled and thanked me.
My dad would have loved this story.
He would have really loved it.
– – – – –
(this is a new chapter from another new book I’m finally returning to)
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