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  • Writer's pictureDillan Taylor

Pick Your Battles

Last night, I was at a 3 year old’s birthday party at an indoor obstacle course/jungle gym sort of thing.

As I was jumping on the trampolines and playing dodgeball with the kids, I accidentally landed on a trampoline at the same time as a young boy. He was 2 years old and while we didn’t bump into each other, he lost his balance, fell and began crying.

I felt terrible. His father–who up until then was on his phone the entire time–ran up and grabbed him. I immediately started apologizing.

He looked up at me and said: “He’s 2 years old you fuckin’ retard.”

Inevitably, after hearing this reaction, I lost all sympathy. Something strange happens when I sincerely apologize for something I’ve done and the other person doesn’t accept the apology and continues to try to make me feel worse about whatever it was. Maybe it’s a prideful flaw on my end.

I quickly realized that nothing I was going to say would calm this guy down. I needed him to leave. He kept calling me all sorts of insults in his baggy jean shorts and skinny pale arms dangling out of his wife-beater.

“Alright buddy. Have a great night,” I repeated.

As he was leaving the pen, my buddy lost his frustration and stood up to defend me. I was grateful to have a friend stick up for me, but this was not the place to battle. There were kids and parents all around.

I was almost laughing as I had to hold my friend back. He shouted, “You don’t talk to people like that man! He sincerely apologized and you’re being an asshole. You weren’t even watching your kid. You were on your phone the whole time.”

Employees walked up to us. Kids were standing frozen and eyeing us. This was not how I expected a toddler’s birthday to go. With one arm I was holding back my buddy on a God damn trampoline; with the other I was shooing away this white trash adult who clearly had a bad day…

Craziness.

Once things settled down, we finished the party and no one else had any idea what happened. That was a tangible example of the utility of picking your battles.

I’m at the point now where if I absolutely had to, I could physically defend myself against someone with no martial arts training. My buddy has been training in Muay Thai and MMA for years. If it were us against one skinny, clumsy dude…it wouldn’t be much of a fight.

But this was not the time or place to even think about fighting. We were in a kids’ party place. The dude was holding a 2 year old. He was irate. He was an asshole. He was clearly just looking for something to be upset about. Who knows, maybe his life sucks. Based on his first reactions and the way he was talking to me, I knew the only solution was for him to finish blowing off steam and just leave.

There was nothing he could’ve said that would get to me. Objectively speaking, he looked and sounded like a loser. When my pride surfaced and I felt the urge to talk back to him after his disrespect, one of my favorite quotes came to mind…

“Their punishment is their life.”

That guy will probably mouth off at someone else for something minor next week. He’s probably miserable right now. He’ll probably be miserable for the rest of his life. Who knows?

All I know is that he didn’t need me to fan the flames of his shitty personality any further. I also know that next time, I don’t think I’ll jump on a trampoline when there are a bunch of kids on it.

Lastly: The one verbal slip-up I made was when he condescendingly said to me, “This isn’t a fucking playground.”

To which I replied, “Well, yes it is.”

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