My dog Punchy and I last winter in front of Leriken in downtown Montreal.
I’m walking through the park as I frequently do with my dog, usually at hours where people are either working or having dinner or long lost in the slumbering dream world, suffice it to say, it’s pretty empty when we stroll.
Today however, there was what seemed to be a young father (could have been older brother but by the tone he was taking, it was most likely his dad) ‘coaching’ his little boy in soccer (football for our European friends) in what sounded like Russian .
As I was taking my stroll, I could hear him coaching the kid pretty loudly and what some would perceive as a curt, (cuRt folks), and possibly even rough and condescending tone to others. As I watched the child play, he didn’t seem to mind, he didn’t look stressed about it, as a matter of fact, he honestly looked like he was having the time of his life kicking the ball with his dad, so I personally paid no attention to it and continued my walk.
As we got further, towards almost a different section of the park, I could now hear other voices getting louder as well, these were English Canadian voices I heard and the louder they got, the more I could make them out. “Listen to this man talk to his kid! Hey, why don’t you learn how to communicate you cantankerous sonofabitch!!!!”
I’m thinking to myself, “Cantankerous?” who the hell uses “Cantankerous?” when their picking a fight and more importantly, what the hell does it mean??? But what the hell, I digress… at this point, I began walking towards the 3, which later turned into 5, but read on, thinking to myself “Mind your business brother, this isn’t your business, just turn around and let it be…” and before I could finish that thought, I was within a few yards from them.
So the coach dad replies in English and with a heavy (we’ll call it Russian) accent, “Mind your business, this is my boy.” To which the other dude, who looked Hispanic but I could be wrong yells back, “Go the fuck back to your country!” as he turns and walks away with incredibly condescending and dismissive body language. The dad coach yells back “This is my country you stupid fu…” to which he all of a sudden realizes his son is right there watching so he stops himself from continuing his sentence but finishes with “…why don’t you go back to yours!”
It’s funny to watch what began as apparent concern for a child’s well-being turn into a political, cultural and racial situation unfolding right in front of me. And what’s even funnier, is that here we have two individual’s clearly of differing nationalities to that of the country they are living in which is not even a 150 years old as Canada was established as a self governing country on July 1st, 1867 and was inhabited by Native American Indians. The irony of this incredibly ignorant confrontation unfolding in front of me for absolutely nothing substantial was about to turn into a nightmare for what looked like to be the 7 or 8 year old boy.
So as I’m getting closer, the Hispanic fellow turns back, chest puffed out & yelling “What did you just say to me mother fucker?!?!” It was like someone had turned the on switch man… he went from passive aggressive and walking away to instantly turning around and streamlining towards the coach dad AND…. right behind him coming out of a nearby backyard where he must have originated from himself, 2 other Hispanic looking fellas bee lining behind him.
Well, my heart raced… I ran with my dog, who seemed ecstatic at this point, probably thinking we’re playing or chasing something, towards the guys yelling "Yo! Yo!" to get everyone’s attention thinking what the hell do I say now? As I got there, everyone looked at me and I directly addressed the first individual saying “Hey man, take a look at his little boys face” were the first words that came out of my mouth as I exhaled from my run and nerves going haywire, to which everyone there stopped and looked, and there was this kid in his soccer outfit standing there, not exactly crying, but looking like he’s been on the verge for the last hour or so but biting his tongue with perseverance and determination to hold it back and look strong.
The brother stopped, looked at me and then said, “Some people oughta know when to keep their mouth shut.” And again began walking away with his 2 friend. The coach dad, still trying to save face yells back “That is right!” as he grabs his kid by the hand but the Hispanic fella turns right back around saying “That’s it!” and storms in only to find me right in front of his face stopping him in a dead halt. I smiled at him and said, “It’s a pretty nice Friday evening brother, and initially, it was his kid you were concerned about right? Try not to lose sight of that dude… if you beat his dad down in front of him, you’ll do a thousand times more damage to that kid than his dad ever could coaching him through a thousand games…” hoping, praying it would end and it wouldn’t get violent….
For an instant, it could have gone either way… my entire body, physiology, biology and everything that ends with an ‘ogy’ was preparing to drop him where he stood if he even so much as flinched the wrong way, I knew exactly where his friends were, how close he was and which direction to go if it was to go down…
He walked away dismissing me, signalling his buddies to go with him yelling, “You’re lucky this guy was here to save your ass in front of your boy!” As I turned to face the dad, praying he keeps his mouth shut, which he finally did, I approached him and got nicely told off. “Next time you mind your business!” and he picks up his kid and storms off…
Ahhh… an early evening walk at the park in the suburbs of the south shore Montreal.
This just happened, moments before I wrote this up, I figured I’d get home right away and type it out, as it is still fresh in my mind. This had a nasty potential. And thankfully, it ended well and without anyone getting hurt or anyone having to pre-empt anyone.
I have to say, it crossed my mind taking the guy out on my way running there, as he was determined at this point, both times actually, to seriously hurt the coach dad. I also kept thinking about that kid and witnessing any kind of violence at this stage in his life would serve him, he sincerely didn’t need that. Then there was my dog. Though once the situation remained verbal after I got there it became easier to deal with, had I had to strike earlier, she would have been much harder to deal with.
The predominant factor in this entire confrontation had nothing to do with the kid, nothing to even do with loyalty to any country. It was 2 human beings suffering from the worldwide epidemic of the “anger” virus, which plagues so much of humanity. No, it wasn’t even personal as we probably all met for the first time today and it wasn’t cultural either. It was the side effect of personal, sometimes ancestral anger we all bottle inside. This was 2 individual’s demons clashing, blinded by their egos, completely neglectful to the innocent child standing amongst them, about the possible consequences of what was to become, irreversible actions. We are indeed our own worst enemies.
I was able to reach this guy thru his anger somehow with my words. Maybe this guy had a little brother; maybe something triggered a past memory. Maybe he didn’t want to do it at all and needed a reason and he hoped one of his friends would do it but found himself too egotistically invested in the matter to back down, who knows? But it stopped him in his track twice & no one got hurt.