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Rebecca may have decided that her response to any confrontation is to flee, but after a recent altercation with a heinous Essex woman and her kids in Morrisons (more about this later), I had a revelation: I'm a fighter, not a lover.
I’ve been looking back at some of my face-offs over the years, and it’s confirmed what I already know: I freaking live for confrontation. And this is not a trait I like in myself.
Back to Morrisons we go. I popped in with my kid after I’d taken her swimming, to buy her some sweeties and a cream cake for her dad. After paying for the shopping, she wanted to go on the rider – that’s one of those 50p kid’s rides, which features a colourful cartoon character, that the kid sits on, as it rocks back and forth. Delightful.
As she climbed in the rider, 50p in hand, poised to put it in the machine, a little boy climbed out of the rider he’s on nearby, and gets in to my daughter’s, attempting to pull her out.
In my nicest, child-friendly voice, I said ‘hey, hey, hey, she’s in there,’ at which point his 5ft 11 glamazon, perma-tanned proper Essex mother shrieked ‘Oi! Donchoo tell me kid ‘hey, hey, hey’.’
And this is how it went down:
Essex mother: Oi! Donchoo tell me kid hey, hey, hey. Waving your bag around in his face. (My shopping was hanging off my wrist, so yes, it was swinging around, but not in his face)
Me: He’s pulling my little girl off the rider.
Essex mother: He don’t know any bet’ter, he’s two years old!
Me: Well he’s rather large for a two year old (rest easy peeps, I wasn’t calling him a fatty, he was as tall as my three year old).
Essex mother: And what does he know? He’s a kid.
Me: Well he should know some manners.
Essex mother: Manners? Manners? What manners, he’s a fucking kid.
By now the Essex mother was really shouting. A woman who works in Morrisons came over and told loud shouty Essex mum to mind her language.
Me: Well you’re setting a great example about manners (my stiff upper lipped totally rolled out).
Essex Mum: (She now storms round and is leaning mere inches from my face). Manners? I’ll give you fucking manners. If you weren’t on that fucking phone, I’d ram it down your throat.
Nice hey? At this point, I could feel the adrenaline literally pumping through me. My limbs started to quiver, my legs felt shaky, and I could feel myself rushing, like fireworks going off all through my body. And then I went very quiet and calm – a trick my brother used employ when he was trying to piss me off as a kid.
I stood there; nodding my head, and said to her ‘Well you’re setting a lovely example to your kids, aren’t you?’
That did it. Like a red rag to a bull.
‘I’m waitin’ for you outsiiiide!’ she crowed, pointing to the front of the supermarket. Which was just as well, because my car was parked at the back.
I knew I was yanking her chain, but I didn’t back off, even though my daughter was there. I pushed her buttons, and didn’t look for a calm way out. The adrenaline had got to me and I liked it - I was in fight mode, ready for whatever she served up.
Basically, I’m big mouth gobshite and I don’t often back down.
And this leads to my next confrontation. I was on the tube on the way home from work. It was a busy carriage at rush hour. I could smell something really funky in the air and it started making me feel sick.
Then I looked to the guy standing against the glass partition where I was sat. He was, for want of a better word, a yoof - jeans hanging off his arse, cap on head (I’m not sure I could sound more Daily Mail if I tried. I’ll have a word with myself at the end of this article. Sorry).
Anyway, he was stood there with a handful of skunk picking out the seeds, which explained the smell. As you may remember, I have a history with pot. Also, to set the scene, An enormous, 6ft 4 Polish bloke was standing in front of the other guys (henceforth known as Weed Dude) and me.
Once I’d clocked Weed Dude, I looked up at the huge bloke and he gave me knowing shake of the head and a wink.
Everyone around started to cotton on to what this guy was doing and there was no denying that familiar, pungent aroma of his weed. In a hot tube carriage, it reeked.
Now I could have, and probably should have just accepted the situation and gone back to my book. But I didn’t. Of course I didn’t - haven’t I already established I’m a big mouth?
So I leant forward, and said ‘Dude, your weed stinks. Don’t you think you should put that away and do it somewhere privately?’ I was super-nice and friendly about it.
And this is how it rolled out…
Weed Dude: Nooooo lady, I do what I want when I want, innit.
Me: Really? Don’t you think you should (ARGH, stiff upper lip emerges again!) respect these other people around you?
Weed Dude: Nah man, I don’t respect these peoples cause they’ve not earnt my respect.
Me: (Realising this isn’t going to go anywhere, but you know, in for a penny in for a pound) Look mate, I’m not anti-pot, but I just think you should have a little bit of awareness what’s going on around you. This isn’t the time or the place for that, you know?
Weed Dude: Lady, (for fucks sake lady? He’s calling me lady!) I do what I want, when I want. I don’t care where I am, if I wanna smoke this weed, I’ll smoke my weed.
Me: Ok, ok, but I’m just suggesting you put it away.
Weed Dude: Lady you gonna make me get of this train? Ahhhh no, I can’t believe you is gonna make me get off the train.
Just as I'm about to give up, the mahoosive Polish guy steps up. Shoulders like boulders and sounding vey much like Arnie in The Terminator, he says. ‘PUT. IT. AWAY. I said PUT. IT. AWAY.’
And with that, Yoof moans and grumbles and gets off at the next stop and promises he’s going to smoke a fat one on the platform.
Again, I ask myself, why say anything? Why not shut the hell up and mind your own business? Apparently, I just can’t help myself. I wasn’t always like this, as a kid I was apparently very shy. But when I hit my teens, hormones inflated, and my mouth did too. Basically, my flight instinct did a runner.
Other adrenaline punches have led me to confronting a pickpocket and scoring my friends stolen wallet back, chasing a bloke on the road who cut me up (seriously, what was I going to do if I caught up with him?), and always being the woman in the queue who has a pop at people when they cut the line. The list goes on.
I said before that I don’t like this trait in myself, but in my mind I’m just standing up for my beliefs.
When my kid got bitten and wrestled to the ground at nursery several times by an overzealous girl, I taught her to say ‘NO. DON’T DO THAT’ really loudly. I try to instill in her if she doesn’t like something or someone hurts her, she needs to say so. Because, she’s a shy thing, like I was. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of time for me knock that out of her.