It was my father’s birthday a few days ago so this past weekend I took my two daughters (13 and 9) with me to Victoria to attend a celebration dinner. For various reasons I decided that we would walk on the ferry and catch the city bus into town instead of driving, and this decision led to a very interesting experience.
The bus we boarded had two tiers so we went up to the top deck and grabbed our seats. We were lucky to get in line early because the bus started filling up very quickly, and the top deck is always popular. We were seated with plenty of time to spare so we watched everyone else get on. One group that came up to the top were five Korean students/friends and they walked to the back of the deck and sat down on the long seat so they could all be together. They were quite friendly and it looked like they were looking forward to an enjoyable ride into town.
People were seated and waiting for the bus to start up when another passenger came up the stairs. He was about early 50s, Caucasian with a thin build, wearing scruffy clothes, a baseball cap, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a few days. In spite of seeing that all the seats were occupied, he began walking down the aisle and said in a loud voice, “Who here is going to give up their seat for an old man?” and continued towards the back of the bus. I’d say that most people were confused and they watched him as he continued down the aisle. When he got to the back he saw the group of Koreans and said to one person, “Is it going to be you?”, then pointed to another person and said, “Or you?”. By this time my adrenaline was already pumping and I was watching very carefully to see if the situation would escalate. Initially nobody was moving, but then slowly one Korean got up and gave him his seat with a smile, and was content to stand for the trip into town. The man then plopped himself down, sat back, and pulled his cap over his head as if to take a nap.
At this point it was clear that people were shocked at the audacity of the man and couldn’t believe that a person could do something like that. As I looked down the aisle I was watching the situation and saw a younger, heavier set man starting to huff and puff a bit, but it went no further than that. The bus started up, but before it started moving the bus driver made an announcement over the speakers that no standing is allowed on the top floor and that everyone needs to take a seat. The Korean friends started looking at each other because this then meant that their group would be separated if their friend who was standing had to go down to the first level. They looked at the man who took their seat and he stared back and asked “Who’s it going it be?”. At this point the heavier set man said, “Why not you?” but again, that’s where his involvement ended. At this point all the Koreans got up from their seat and started walking towards the front of the bus to where the stairway was located. As they were walking away the man started waving after them and said “Bye bye”.
The incident made me think, “Did I do the right thing by not getting involved?”. I feel that the answer is yes, I did the right thing by being aware but not getting directly involved. Why? Because the Korean friend willingly gave up his seat, with no physical altercation. But by not getting physically involved did that mean I wasn’t aware of the situation? Absolutely not. From the time that the man asked who was going to give up their seat for him until well past the time that the Korean group had gone down to the first level, I was on alert. My adrenaline was up and my senses were heightened. Thoughts had gone through my head such as being aware of being in a confined space environment so close quarter techniques (knees, elbows) would be required, to whether or not he was carrying a weapon. My 13-year old daughter, who is also taking Krav Maga, said that as the man was walking down the aisle towards the back she noticed that one hand was in his back pocket and as sirens were blaring in her head, she thought “Knife!”. She also told me that her adrenaline was up and that she was jittery for a while afterwards.
Situations like this make me very grateful to my KM training. To my surprise, the awareness just kicked in by itself and I began immediately assessing the situation in the event that the situation escalated. Before the training, I would wish that I had the tools and knowledge to know what to do, but now that I’ve been training for almost 3 years I have the confidence and control over both my emotions and body to be ready to strike if required. It’s not paranoia, it’s preparedness and awareness. How do I know this? Because I enjoyed the rest of the weekend with my family without looking over my shoulder, wondering if someone was going to jump out of the bushes and attack me. Until the next situation should arise, the lion goes back to sleep, but always ready to wake up and respond if the situation should arise. I am also proud of my daughter for being aware of the situation as it was unfolding.
In hindsight, the situation was a non-issue and perhaps I’m making a bigger deal over it than it deserves. However, I would rather this be the case than be one of the other passengers on the bus unaware of how quickly situations can escalate, and not be able to do anything about it if the time came.
By: Warren Chow