A costly battle

Whenever I hear about incidents like this, I battle with myself. It’s a battle of conflicting emotions and reactions. A real turmoil. “On the one hand….but on the other…” is the typical ping pong match that resounds in my mind.

Wendy Fisher, a 40-year-old single mother of 2, became involved in an argument with a group of 3 or 4 black men who were speeding through her west Mobile, Alabama, neighborhood on Saturday night. News accounts are sketchy, but witnesses (Fisher’s teenage daughter, included) say that the car, a dark-colored Nissan or Honda, nearly struck her dog as it sped down Racine Avenue which is used as a shortcut by drivers in that section of the city. Apparently Fisher yelled at the car, provoking the driver to stop. Reportedly, a black male got out of the car and 3 shots rang out, striking Wendy Fisher in the chest, before the car fled off. She died later at the hospital.

Exactly how did the argument begin? What precipitated it? This we do not know. Based on the circumstances that we do know and borrowing from my own past experiences in the grand human laboratory that is Life, I would postulate that Fisher, angry and fearful for her dog, probably yelled a long string of cuss words at the car which probably had its windows down considering the weather in the deep South this time of year. There are a few “triggers” you learn to avoid if you want to stay out of life-threatening situations with male strangers. The fact is, there are many random psychopathic hotheads cruising around out there and one surefire way of unleashing an unanticipated dose of ultra-violence is by cussing someone out. Don’t ever cuss at a stranger unless you are willing to put your fists where your mouth is. And just because you’re a chick doesn’t give you a free pass. Murderous bastards are not gentlemen. Giving strangers the “finger” is also a deadly trigger. In most cases, you might incite a physical confrontation that ends innocuously enough. But there is the rare instance where a gun is brandished, and rarer yet, fired. In Fisher’s case, the rare occurrence spelled the end of her life.

And now this is the part where the inner battle takes over my head.

I’ll begin by stating that Fisher obviously did not deserve this and the shooter was a vile person who must be caught and thrown in prison for the rest of his life. Fisher instinctively did what most people would do in such a situation: act before thinking. Hell, I’ve done it and regretted the action in retrospect though no harm came of it. What if. On the other hand, the cautious person is able to practice sufficient self-restraint in a situation where a car with a bunch of young guys does something stupid that pisses the cautious person off. The cautious person consults the Ego/Fear Meter and determines that this fight is not worth it. It’s time to swallow your pride and shut up and be thankful your dog wasn’t hurt. Move on, forget it. I hate to say it, but simultaneously, the other part of my brain is reasoning with my moral side: Fisher is partly responsible for her own murder. If she had simply hugged her dog gratefully for the fact it was still alive and allowed the initial fury to subside into the bottomless sour pit of her belly, she might still be alive.

The way I look at it is that life is dangerous enough without tempting fate for the stupidest shit in the world. Our life is not that dangerous or risky here in the First World. There’s no reason to go all hostile and guerrilla fighter on strangers when they do thoughtless crap that pisses the hell out of you. If you play your cards right, you’ll probably be here tomorrow for another day of fun and games. Am I proclaiming a manifesto of cowardice? Hell no, but I am proclaiming a manifesto of reasoned caution bolstered by a thoughtful survey of the battles we pursue. There is a time for defending you honor. There will be a time, believe me. Just have patience. Sorry, a speeding car full of black guys that almost runs over your dog is not a battle of honor, it’s a stupid ghetto annoyance. Still, I can’t fault Fisher for doing what she did. I might have reacted the same way (although I don’t give a crap about dogs that much) with the same result. I am human after all. Fisher reacted normally and there is no reason she should have paid with her life.