Four Case Studies in Aggressive Behavior
To ease into the behavioral aggression cues—which are much more scenario based than the relatively simple physicality assessments—let us examine two accounts from Single Traveling Dudes like yourself and try to reconstruct cues that were—or may have been—given off by the aggressor. We will also look at two infamous YouTube aggressions gone wrong, as these represent simultaneous incorrect and correct readings by the respective violent actors.
Ted’s Men’s Room Misadventure
My memory is a little hazy on this one but this goes back quite a few years to a hooker bar in Costa Rica called Key Largo, I believe – it’s one of the world famous ones in San Jose.
I was there with two buddies and we were getting smashed yucking it up at the bar, laughing loudly telling jokes, planning our next trip.
I guess we pissed off one of the restless locals because a HUGE guy tried to jump me in the bathroom when I tried to take a leak.
He was spouting off about “You rich tourists.” “These girls are working hard.” “These girls are just trying to take care of their little babies.” blah blah blah.
Very loud, very big, very tall, very aggressive. I wondered if I was going to die or not.
What I can’t remember was whether he had a knife or not (or maybe I didn’t know) I had a pencil (or pen) in my pocket and I remember wondering if I would be able to stab him in the neck with it.
Just as I was debating trying to stab this guy in the jugular with my pencil, one of my friends came in and somehow talked the guy down and defused the situation. I still don’t know how he did it. It certainly wasn’t because he was larger or more imposing than the would be attacker.
I’m not sure what you can make of that but if my friend hadn’t come to diffuse the situation, I think I would have received serious bodily harm if not death.
Ted, you were, due to drink and the social sense developed during conversation, not keyed in on aggression cues, at all. It seems, from this account that he used predation level set up to corner you in a social confrontation, which is the sign of a guy that is very dangerous on a psychological level, without even mentioning his size. Once you find yourself in this situation, and do not have an immediate read on where his right hand is, you are in deep trouble. For this reason socializing with friends rather than strangers is a life saver. Your friend stepped in, most likely in an apologetic fashion, trying to divert responsibly for your supposed insult to himself, which is the best way to help a friend. This is more difficult to pull off yourself, and depends largely on your reading of the aggressor. The pen was a probably your best option if it went physical. However, the goal is to keep it from going physical.
A couple years back I was in Belgrade. Eastern Europe in general is famous for scam Taxis that run all kinds of different scams. Posted rates that are too high hoping you won’t notice, fast meters, a hot button somewhere that bumps the fare up incrementally when you aren’t looking or even just the “no change scam.
After spending a few months in town I had become more confident in dealing with these scam artists. Not being a terribly small guy myself I found the best solution was to just tell them to go fuck themselves, get out and walk away. This worked well until one night when I came home very drunk from the club. The change scam it was. I got out and told the driver to fuck off. He was trying to charge me double the normal price. I told him to eat shit. Unfortunately I was so drunk that before I realized what happened he was out of the car and had a knife in my stomach. Long story short he robbed me for 4 times the fare instead of twice. It certainly would have been more if I had more money. I sure wish I had a weapon, I definitely would have had no qualms about leaving that guy bleeding out on the street.
Okay, Billy, this fine conveyer of tourists in Belgrade had plenty of time to ascertain your level of inebriation as he decided to rip you off with that scam. In general declining to verbally engage when drunk is a good rule to follow. In this situation, not making the two parting statements and moving farther way form the car more quickly would have helped. Criminals operating out of vehicles get less bold the farther they are from their vehicle. Ideally you want to have an internal protocol, a behavioral mode you go into when more drunk than usual, that features less language, less aggressive language, less proximity to unknown actors, and a simple default deception, such as feeling for the wallet like you are going to pay, to make him hesitant, even as you position yourself to make space between you.
This was a pure case of predation, in which the aggressor used the social ruse of verbal engagement to set up his attack. The specific tactic of using the knife to touch and threaten generally indicates a greater willingness to injure or kill than does touching with the muzzle of a gun. Once it was touching your belly, complying—short of going somewhere with him—was the best policy.
The Pimp Hand of Vietnam Tom
In this video we see aggression cues from the younger fellow:
- Interrupting another person’s conversation.
- Accusing a stranger of something.
- Threatening a person who is trying to break verbal contact.
- Following a person who is trying to reduce proximity.
- The aggressor in the argument puts his glasses away—a dead give away.
Note, the older woman immediately gets the physicality and psychology read on these men, identifies Vietnam Tom for the man-beater he is, and tries to warn off the younger man from pursuing the argument. The fact that he ignores this third person warning is a clear sign that contact is about to be initiated.
The taking care of business aspect of this encounter is that Tom gets the man to follow him which:
- Gives him internal justification to strike.
- Deceives the aggressor into thinking he is passive.
- Permits him to walk the aggressor into a strike. This can be done on a bus by timing the aggressor’s approach to correlate with the bus motion so that you actually hit him with the breaking or accelerating energy, but in this case seems just a matter of positioning. As the aggressor “looms” forward, Tom is able to put his massive thigh muscles into his rising strike.
- Tom uses “the pimp hand” only punching with one hand, not two, which is the way the most savvy street fighters operate.
Caveat: If you are not Vietnam Tom, and do not possess the pimp hand of stone, do not argue with aggressors, ever. This will be covered in detail in the aggression cues segment.
Note: Much public aggression—most, indeed—by African Americans, since about 2009, has featured supporters of the violent act proximate, filming, and willing to assist with the pressing of legal charges against successful defenders.
The Pimp Hand Crack Down
Where Vietnam Tom was just a genetic freak, this man is an actual pimp and former pro boxer, who targets the aggressor for a wicked KO.
- Ignores third party warnings.
- Most ominously, avoids third party pleas for the pimp not to strike.
- Poses in front of his target, exposing his chin. It is natural for the human male to loom over or pose before another primate with jutted chin to assert dominance. This is a gift to the boxer, the chin being the KO button.
Notice the pimp:
- Conceals his striking hand, which, if he were not a boxer, might contain a knife.
- Merely touches the target with his lead hand.
- Kicks out his rear foot to line up his rear leg and hip under the hand and deliver the necessary force.