No Surrender

The stoop to my building has become a favorite outdoor smoking lounge for nearby office, shop, and restaurant workers.

Of course, it is terribly unpleasant to breathe the toxic fumes upon arriving or departing home.  Worse still, the smoke drifts into our apartments though the windows and the vents.

Anyway, it is against the law to smoke within 25 feet of a property entrance on the streets of downtown Palo Alto.

So, when I encounter smokers, I politely ask them to move, and until today, the offenders have always left peaceably.

Until today.

There is a young woman smoking.  I courteously request that she step away from the doorway.

She refuses.  She says she is not going anywhere.

I gently remind her that it is illegal to smoke in the current location.

She looks me in the eye and screams:

“Get out of my face you little bitch before I punch you!”

Now, I am not a violent person.  I can’t even do kickboxing class at the gym.  When I took self defense, the instructor called me a pacifist.

And my body is not really built for the fight.  Even a small child can take me down with ease.  And besides, I just had my front teeth reshaped.

But, something suddenly comes over me.  I can’t explain.

I take a step closer to the woman.

I throw back my shoulders, chest out.

I look her in the eye and calmly say:

“I am not the least bit afraid of you.”

I would like to think she was intimidated by my physical presence.

More likely, she thought I was a crazy person.  It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that she walked away.

I felt satisfied for standing my ground.

And lucky to be alive.

What was I thinking?

© 2016 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.