There are a variety of different ways to start off a morning. Some people go for a jog while others opt for ingesting caffeine, usually in the form of coffee. This morning, I got my day started by being assaulted.
I work in Cambridge but the Cynical-C Mansion is located a few miles away so I take the commuter train in every morning (my building doesn’t have a helipad…yet). I got on the train today as I would any other day when I felt a hard shove from behind. I looked back to see what happened and some guy was screaming that I had cut him off. I immediately went into commuter defense mode which is to pretend nothing unusual happened and keep walking. This is usually the best way to handle anybody who has started exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior on the train/subway. It failed me this time. He punched me in the back of the neck as I was walking away and kept yelling unintelligibly as his wife/girlfriend/handler jumped into the fray to pull him away and most likely give him another dose of thorazine.
I was shocked more than anything else at being punched in the back of the neck in front of a trainload of people and the incident was witnessed by the conductor who promptly called the police. The train was held up for about twenty minutes while we waited for the police to arrive. I then had to identify the assailant and give a statement. The conductor had witnessed the incident so the police didn’t ask if I wanted to press charges but just arrested him. I got back on the train and headed off to work.
I’ve been talking to people about this all day and getting a million different opinions on what they would have done if they were in my position. Some people say they would have hit him back but if I had to do it over again I think I would have reacted the same way. I was a bit bigger than him (He was about 5’9 and skinny and I’m 6 ft, 215lbs, none of it muscle) so I didn’t feel physically intimidated even though he did hit me as I was walking away. I remember at the time realizing that I had several witnesses who had seen him hitting me and wanted them to remember that picture if they were questioned by the police. If he had taken a less cowardly approach and attacked me from the front then I probably would have been forced to defend myself.
And what would you have done? (Yes, you!)