Avoid bad consequences by avoiding bad choices

  • Larry Simoneaux
  • Sunday, June 11, 2006 9:00pm
  • Opinion

Maybe you didn’t see the story.

Maybe you did, but didn’t have the same reaction that I did.

As regards that reaction, it was pretty straightforward. The needle on my sympathy meter never left zero.

Here’s what happened.

A waiter in Atlanta had finished work for the evening and was walking alone along a street.

He later told reporters he knew something was wrong when he saw a very skittish cat run past him.

When he looked around, he saw three young men and a young woman getting out of a car. One of the men was armed with a shotgun and another had a pistol. Good cheer and fun times didn’t seem to be in the offing.

According to police, this same group had robbed two other men earlier that same evening.

Looking at long odds and faced with a classic “fight or flight” situation, the waiter – a 36-year-old honorably discharged Marine – took off. He even tried shouting “Fire!” in the hopes of attracting help.

Didn’t work. The thugs eventually cornered him.

Fearing for his life, he decided to fight back armed only with the pocketknife he’d managed to retrieve from his backpack.

He kicked the shotgun from one of his attacker’s hands but was then set upon by the 17-year-old woman.

She ended up getting stabbed, as did another of the attackers. A third member of the group attempted to shoot the waiter, but the handgun misfired.

Final toll: one female mugger dead, one male low-life in critical condition, three others arrested and charged with aggravated assault and attempted robbery.

The waiter was not seriously injured nor was he charged because, according to the police, “It was a clear case of self-defense.”

Since the day I read the story, I’ve kept checking to see if my response has changed.

Nope. Sympathy meter still reads zero.

One thought I do have, however, is that in the ongoing war of good versus evil, badly outnumbered good won this little skirmish.

Still, knowing my penchant for seeing things in very distinct shades of black and white – gray being the color reserved for naval vessels – I read the story to my wife. She’s just about the softest touch on the planet and, whenever I’m off base, she’ll inject a bit of reason, compassion and sanity into what passes for my thought processes.

This time her response was very succinct.

“They got what they deserved.”

It all comes down to making choices, doesn’t it? We seldom stop to think about that little nugget of truth, but there it is.

Some of the choices we make are simple, but they still have consequences.

“I don’t feel like wearing a coat today.” Then, the temperature drops 30 degrees and the rain comes down in buckets. You now get to live with the sniffles for a few days.

“Think I’ll just slow down a bit on this street.” Then, the ball with the kid right behind it rolls out from between two cars just about where you would’ve been if you hadn’t bled off a little speed.

Other choices, though, are far more serious and have consequences to match.

“To hell with school. I’m just going to drop out.”

Good move, slick. In general, you now get to watch others move up and away from you. All because you didn’t see the point in getting an education.

Or, better yet, you’ve gotten in with a group where the thinking (such as it is) goes like this:

“Man, we need some cash. Why don’t we just rob that guy up ahead?”

Odds are 5 to 1 your way and you’ve got guns. Why the hell not? So you pull over and chase the guy down.

Then, just when it looks as if it’s all going your way, your intended victim turns into something you’ve never had to face before – someone not willing to place his life in the hands of a bunch of punks. You’ve forced him to make a choice and he’s made it. His only way out is through you and he’s coming hard.

The consequences are as follows: One of you dies. Another is seriously wounded. Three more are immediately arrested.

Shortly thereafter, many of us who are sick and tired of reading stories that always seem to end with the death or injury of the innocent get to read this one. Our reaction is blunt and to the point. “Serves them right.”

To some, that may seem a harsh judgment and, for the girl who died, it’s one hell of an obituary.

Do remember, though, she and her friends were the ones who chose it.

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Comments can be sent to larrysim@att.net.

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