Which story is better?
The ultimate confrontation for me was one of my individual therapy patients from the police department. He had a significant alcohol abuse problem. The family dynamics among himself, his wife and his kids was horrendous, extraordinarily pathological and violent.
I get a call. There was a problem at his house. He was inside, wouldn’t come out, had been drinking, and obviously has multiple firearms. I know this guy has a high potential for violence. I call in the response team, but I want him to trust me. They agree that the bulk of the tactical team will be in a parking lot a couple blocks away.
So I have the flak vest on and am walking up to his door, thinking to myself, He’s going to shoot me. I was thinking about the time I was married, about my family, my parents, my friends. I was thinking, I can’t believe that I just can’t turn around and go back. I’m going to get shot.
I get up to the door, swallow, turn around and wave to these guys. I knock on the door.
He opens. My heart is pounding. He opens the door and looks totally normal.
“Scott, I’m glad to see you. You’ve got to help me. Come on in.”
Ha. Meanwhile I’ve got my vest on.
He immediately see that and goes, “God, you know, I’m really sorry that you thought I was going to hurt you.”
“Well, you know George, with your temper.” I’m laughing, probably manic, silly at this point.
He’s huge with two sons bigger than he is, college football linemen, who would get in brawls in the front yard.
Driving home afterwards. I was thinking, I don’t think tactical knows who was involved. We didn’t get into trouble with the district. I didn’t get shot. Nobody got hurt.
One got off in front of me, threw himself down on the ground, and then rose screaming that I had pushed him. A fight ensued. They were all trying to attack me. As the big guy got ready to throw a punch, the other two smaller guys got ready, too, in a half-hearted way. I had been boxing at the time–so I just kept stepping to the left and counter-punching each time the big guy threw a jab. As long as he didn’t land a punch and stagger me, these other two wouldn’t do anything. They were weasels.
Ultimately the big guy – who must have been on coke or something – got frustrated and ran off screaming to harass somebody else.
We left, getting to the corner of Haight and Ashbury under the light, when I heard him coming up screaming behind me. I turned around. He threw a hook, and I blocked it. But it felt like an awfully strong blow. When I stood back I realized with a chill that he had a bloody knife in his hand. And then he just ran away.
I walked down the street high on adrenaline ,going, “Oh, my god!” My girlfriend was terrified. I took a look. I wasn’t sure I had been stabbed. I just saw this ugly welt across my side and thought, “You know, maybe he missed me.”
But when I reached around further, my hands came up with blood. It really is a nightmare. You don’t know what’s happening, but you keep walking and getting weaker.
I walked into a record store, asked for help, then sat down on the ashtray and fell on the floor, and couldn’t breath, and ended up crawling like a rat, trying to hide myself behind the counter. It was ugly.
The medics got there, said my blood pressure was OK and gave me a little oxygen, and I perked up. What had saved me was the twisting. In boxing if someone’s throwing a hook, you’ll turn and drop your elbow. That motion drew the blade. It went in about three inches, between my organs and the outer wall, and made a nasty gash. But I wasn’t severely wounded, just having a normal faint reaction and feeling terrible.
In the emergency room it seemed ironic that there I was, a police and a crime statistician-analyst–a victim of violent crime. Once the emergency crew knew it wasn’t critical, we all had a giddy chuckle.
That’s when I realized you’re either all the way in the police force or you’re not. And I was sort of halfway. That’s really not a position you can stay in.