You never know when you will have to face a life test. Whether you'll pass and do the "right thing". Whether it even is the right thing.
I had that situation this weekend. I'm conflicted about what happened. I'm going to work it out with myself by telling the story here.
So, I'm enjoying a memory-making moment with my sons at the library. Precious time together. I let them browse and use the computer search to find books of interest while I sit and read. Ironically, I chose to sit and skim a book that I had just bought for my Kindle - Glenn Beck's "Cowards", which is about people being too timid to speak up.
Over the top of my book, I see an argument blow up. A young woman is being loudly pursued by a young man. He's grabbing her arm aggressively and saying heatedly "you're going to listen to me". She's trying to put a newspaper away, and get away from him, and he keeps after her. Swearing at her, inappropriately. "You F*ing B*tch. You N-lover!" Based on that, the bald head, and the tats up his neck, I"m going to call him a skinhead.
I look at the two guys sitting around me. Do they see this? Yes, and they are turning away from the awkward situation.
She flees the library. He chases after her. Grabbing at her. Cussing at her. In the library.
I made a decision, put down my book, and went out of the library after them - leaving my sons in there.
I pass two ladies coming down the ramp into the library. They have screwed up faces, like "oh, that's unpleasant".
I go out into the parking lot and scan the area. There she is, running down the middle of the street frantically with him in pursuit. I lose them as they round a building.
I run too. Around the building. There they are, across the street from me - and across the street from our police station. Wrong place to pick a fight in public.
He has her by the arm, yanking her aggressively. "You're going to come with me, and listen to me!"
"Hey", I yell across the distance. "Take your hands off of her!"
Mad guy yells at me. He is way out of control. F-bombs are flying in my direction. "This is none of your business!"
The action moves around a parking lot. She gets up and flees. He catches her. I pursue. "Take your hands off of her". More F-bombs coming at me. I'm yelling back, but keep a distance.
A car sees what happens and pulls in paralleling me. Watching. Gauging the situation. Eventually, he gets out of his car and mad guy recognizes him. He's an off duty cop. Cop asks me to stand down but stay, and engages mad guy in a calm and professional manner. I stand down.
Two squad cars race up to a stop near us. Cops get out with pizza that they were taking to the police station, and intervene to back up the off duty guy. They separate mad guy and his "old lady". She starts going into "He didn't do anything" mode. I don't speak to her, but turn away from them and stay out of it. Uniformed cop comes and gets my story. They arrest mad guy. I go back to the library and get my sons to leave.
That's the story. Here's why I'm conflicted.
I didn't intend to get the guy arrested. I just wanted him to stop grabbing her. He made the poor decision to have a public fight in front of the police station, and ended up inside it.
Does the woman think that I did her a favor? I doubt it.
When I got my sons in the car to go home, I passed her again. She was walking down the street, away from the cop cars, looking lost and crying.
My heart went out to her again.
I know the pain of an arrest of a family member. It's not a momentary thing. It ripples through your life for months, years even. There are court costs and lawyer's fees to face. There is lost time in court appearances. There is stigma and turmoil. There is time served or probation. There is much family pain to come.
Again, does she think that I did here any favors? I sincerely doubt it.
I modelled for my sons that it's not alright to put your hands aggressively on a woman. Even "my old lady". Especially your wife. And that you can't look the other way. That is important to me. Yes.
I am conflicted tonight as I go to sleep. Did I do her any favor? I will never know.