Life inevitably includes pain, but much of the pain human beings experience in life is self-inflicted. As a species, human beings have a remarkable tendency to do things that are incredibly stupid because we are often quite terrible at considering the potential consequences of our current course of action. Texting while driving is a good example. I have watched people piloting a 2.5 ton missile at 80 miles per hour weaving all over the interstate and placing themselves as well as dozens of other people in mortal peril because they cannot bear to let a friggin’ text go unread and unanswered for a few damn minutes. I don’t think these people are mentally deficient. They are just people. People have a bad habit of becoming frighteningly casual with dangerous situations if those dangerous situations have not produced consequences for them. The habitual texter behind the wheel has done this particular activity dozens, hundreds, possibly even thousands of times without having a crash. That experience will trump whatever rational understanding of the dangers they may have because those dangers are abstract. Theoretical. It doesn’t become real to them until they actually experience the consequences of that behavior…and by then it is too late.
Most people also have no real experience with criminal violence. It’s an abstract, theoretical danger. Most people, as a result, are pretty poor at deciphering clues that they are about to become the victims of violence or that they are in uncomfortably close proximity to some criminal violence that is about to take place. You have to be awake enough to see things, knowledgeable enough to recognize what they are, and proactive enough to avoid the danger or you will find yourself smack dab in the middle of it.
That’s what happened to a bunch of people in Waco, Texas last week. When the sky gets dark and the wind picks up and you see streaks of lightning jumping between the clouds, it’s an indicator that conditions are ripe for a tornado. Sometimes there are abundant warning signs that conditions are ripe for a swirling torrent of human stupidity and it would be best to do whatever possible to remove yourself from the area where the funnel cloud of idiocy will touch down. If you are heading to, say, get a bite to eat at your favorite restaurant prominently featuring waitresses with exposed midriffs, fake tans, and industrial strength pushup bras and as you are pulling in you notice a whole bunch of motorcycles parked outside…well…that would be a clue that some stupid could go down here.
There are people in this world who enjoy motorcycles, and then there are “bikers”. I have nothing against people who enjoy motorcycles. I like cars and guns and guitars and I’ve made social connections with other like minded people around those enthusiasms. Nothing wrong with that. “Bikers” don’t do that. Bikers fancy themselves to be some sort of badass with a special dispensation to inflict themselves on the rest of the world and seek out like minded jackasses so they can get their anti-social rocks off. Stuff like this:
It’s pretty damned arrogant to believe you have the right to shut down an entire freeway…and yet these douchebags, emboldened by their numbers, did just that. Of course, nobody was hurt in that incident so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that sort of asshole (yes, I said it) is extremely easy to set off:
I’m sure many of you remember that incident, where what the NYPD termed a “rolling riot” led to an innocent man being dragged out of his vehicle by a bunch of dudes with criminal records and beaten senseless in front of his wife and children.
So when I say that seeing a large gathering of bikes some place is a good indication of the potential for a problem, there’s plenty of evidence to back that up. Prior to the Waco incident making national news I doubt that most people had heard of the Bandidos or the Cossacks or a number of other smaller gangs (because that’s what they are, folks) that showed up to this “summit.” If you did know what a “Bandido” is and you walked into this restaurant and saw a bunch of “Bandido” vests, making a hasty exit would be priority 1 because the “Bandidos” are a bunch of violent thugs.
It seems like most people in the restaurant and in the surrounding establishments (this thing happened in a shopping center), like the texter mentioned earlier, didn’t recognize more than a theoretical danger indicated by the bikes and the dudes in vests and as a result they got to duck gunfire and try to shield their children from stray bullets as these jackasses played Sons Of Anarchy on a Sunday afternoon.
I’m sure a percentage of the people who were in close proximity to that nonsense were blissfully unaware of any potential danger. A larger percentage, I’ll wager, saw the warning signs and did nothing. They saw the bikes, the vests, the 1% patch, and various other indicators that probably gave them a vague sense of discomfort and danger…but they did nothing. They likely did nothing because their rational mind immediately started making excuses for the situation. Most of us have been taught all our lives that you can’t judge people based on appearances because it’s wrong. Perhaps you’ve even been forced by your employer or school to attend some sort of “diversity” seminar where some dude making 10 grand a speech cheerily tells you that you can’t make any character judgments about someone who has a face tattoo or you’re a bad person.
I have news for you, folks…somebody who carves a swastika into his face is communicating some very important information about himself to the rest of the world and you would be a damned fool to ignore it. Believe it or not the survival of your ancestors often depended on making very quick judgments about the likelihood of other people to kill or severely injure them based on just looking at them. They got good at it, and it’s a useful survival skill that has been passed down to you. Use it.
That vague sense of danger you sometimes feel is the part of your brain tasked with keeping you alive warning you that something doesn’t seem kosher with the situation you are seeing. It is impossible to have complete information about the environment you are in or the people around you in it. Thankfully you generally do not need complete information about everything to make a useful judgment about it. Trust your instincts and act to avoid the potential problem when you get that feeling we’ve all had at one time or another.
Don’t make excuses for the situation. Don’t start rationalizing it. Don’t start convincing yourself that you’re probably just being paranoid and paving the way to keep you on your current course of action that will take you right up to those two dudes on the street who are seemingly coordinating their movements centered on you. Or continuing to get a seat at a table in a restaurant afloat with bikers sporting 1% patches.
Digging your way out of the middle of a problem is always…ALWAYS…much harder than just avoiding the problem in the first place. Be alert, and then when something does give you cause for concern act instantly and decisively to get away from the problem.