My recent story about what happened after a driver side-swiped my car elicited all manner of comments here at TTAG. A few of them were highly critical of how I handled the situation. While criticism sometimes stings, if we don’t learn from it, those lessons will never translate into wisdom and as such, opportunities are lost for better handling future situations.
Even better, each and every one of our TTAG visitors can learn a lot from both the stories and from comments offered by some of our sharp readers. Indeed, some comments really are priceless.
For those who missed the original story (here), a speeding driver failed to stay in his lane and struck my car as I took my just-turned three-year-olds to daycare early on the morning of January 5th. The other driver failed to pull over for about a half-dozen blocks.
Then, when he did pull over, he looked intoxicated when he stepped out. The then started yelling and posturing as if he wanted to fight.
Some of our readers took me to task for how (poorly) the situation was handled.
.40 cal Booger had this to say:
Ok, let me see if I got this: Your kids are in the car, you get sideswiped and the other driver keeps going, you follow him then pull over behind him and stop. Then you during all this start communicating with the guy ordering him (telling him ‘to get the F back’) to get back knowing that he appears intoxicated yet with the kids in the car you are in a position where you starting to think about needing a weapon. But you sit there and continue to communicate with a drunk angry aggressive guy who may or may not be armed, who has already shown a disregard for your life and safety and that of your kids by sideswiping you and driving off. But you, instead of driving away and telling the 911 dispatcher you do not feel safe there with your kids in the car – you continue to aggravate the guy by continuing to order him around. But for some reason now you think its great because you have a dash cam.
That about right? Ok then, I have only one question. Are you stupid?
And not long after, he added this:
You had the guys license plate number, neither of you are at the actual accident scene, there no reason to follow him to begin with. He’s drunk and angry and aggressive and out of his car and has approached yours, you don’t know if he is armed with a firearm or not, you have your kids in the car. What would have happened to your kids if he was armed and managed to put you down? During an exchange of weapons fire would your kids have been hit?
Just because you can carry a gun or have a dash cam does not mean you are Superman, it does not mean you should stay around to see what happens, juts because you can be there in public does not mean you should place yourself or others in such a situation where the threat level is simmering but you are unsure, it does not mean you need to stay around and start thinking about options for defense in place and purposely ignore your best and safest defense in this situation to simply drive away and keep away far enough so the guy could no longer see you or you see him at least.
And to top it all off you did all this with your kids in the car, WTF is wrong with you?
You should have left.
stupid stupid stupid.
Mr. Booger: I’ll be honest, at first I didn’t think I handled the incident that poorly. Reading your comment the first time irritated me, but it made me think. Pretty soon, I realized you’re absolutely right. Just because I thought I had a handle on the situation doesn’t mean it couldn’t have gone sideways. I ignored all the warning signs and stuck around.
- The guy didn’t slow and stop promptly after the collision. (Red flag #1.)
- The guy didn’t emerge from his vehicle right away. (Red flag #2… whatcha doin’ in there, buddy? Fishing around for your paperwork… or maybe looking for your gun?)
- The guy appeared quite intoxicated when he did step out. (Giant red flag #3.)
- The guy started yelling and acting like he wanted to fight. (A whole row of red flags waving in the wind.)
- The guy approached my car, showing lots of posturing and other pre-violence indicators (A red flag on a 2×4 to my face that I failed to acknowledge.)
And the fact I had not one, but two toddlers in the car with me? What the hell was I thinking?
That’s the problem. I wasn’t thinking. As events unfolded, I completely ignored the warning signs. And these weren’t the “intuition” warning signs from the subconscious mind. These were right out there with flashing lights. Yet I failed to see them.
Epic fail on my part. Things ended fairly safely, but it could have been an entirely different outcome in the blink of an eye.
Dear Mr. Booger: I don’t know who you are or where you’re from, but if you ever see me in person and have an opportunity, come introduce yourself. I owe you a beer or two for pointing out very valid points and huge mistakes that I made.
The another reader “John” wrote this:
I agree Booger.
This story exemplified some of the major complaints that anti-gun people have about gun owners. The first few are the very obvious lack of responsibility and lack of using the very obvious correct actions to avoid any possible confrontation.
Mr. Boch seemed to have been trying to create a situation in which he would have had to employ defense of some type. All he had to do was drive away. Instead he stays around and continues to aggravate the situation by giving the already aggressive and “pre-violence warning signs displaying” person someone upon which to focus the anger and potential violence including upon the kids.
Mr. Boch was stupid stupid stupid. He not only failed in the most basic of responsibilities for a gun carrier to avoid situations such as this, he intentionally endangered not only his children but himself by creating and staying in a “pre-violence warning signs” dangerous situation which by Mr. Boch’s own words was concerning enough to consider the possibility of deadly force use. Mr. Boch failed in the most basic responsibility of a parent and that is to keep our children away from danger potential or otherwise.
What these dash cam pictures captured was Mr. Boch’s own stupidity and lack of responsibility. They show, by the proximity of the “pre-violence warning signs” drunk and coupled with Mr. Boch’s own words, the dash cam captures show him endangering his own children and him self by creating the situation by being there and exposing them to a “pre-violence warning signs” dangerous situation that was enough for Mr. Boch to consider the use of deadly force.
This is not a matter of making a mistake for which in hindsight we can say “maybe I should have done it differently.” If this drunk had been armed there may not have been any later for hind sight for Mr. Boch or his kids.
When it comes to our kids, when it comes to gun carry, we do not get to make a wrong decision the first time if the situation is such that our thoughts are about employing deadly force – there is no ‘mistake’ or hindsight luxury for us in such a situation, there is only the correct decision to make the first time and in this case that was to drive away and not engage.
“Drive away and not engage.” Priceless advice that should be front and center in everyone’s mind, especially me or anyone with tiny little kids with us. Or even without little kids with us, especially as society (and civilized behavior) seems to be getting more dangerous by the day.
Same for you, John. Come introduce yourself. I owe you a drink to say thanks.
Indeed, I not only created the situation by following the other driver, but also by remaining there as I waited for the cops. I should have driven away. Absolutely, positively correct.
The story itself provides lessons…mostly in what NOT to do. But the comments offered up by our readers, particularly John and .40 cal Booger, were priceless. I thank them for taking a few minutes to offer some great analysis and criticism of how to do better in any future similar incidents for TTAG’s readers.