Riding Off Into the Sunset

It’s Tuesday and I’m in Home Depot looking for a Torx screwdriver. The reason I need such a device is to tighten the pivot screw on a pocketknife I purchased over the Internet. For what I paid for it, the knife should have come perfectly tuned. But such is life.

“Excuse me,” I ask an elderly gent with a name tag reading “Bob.” “Where are the Torx screwdrivers in this place?”

“Whaddya need it for?” Bob asks.

“I need to tighten a pivot screw on a pocketknife.”

“You have it with you?”

“Sure,” I say, taking the knife out of my pocket.

“Hey,” Bob says. “A Benchmade. I’ve always wanted one of those.”

“They’re good knives,” I say. “But this one came a little messed up.”

“Can I hold it?”

I hand Bob the knife which he expertly flicks open one handed. “Nice,” he says. “Whad’it run you?” I tell him and he emits a low whistle. “Expensive,” he says.

“Well worth it though.”

Bob folds the knife closed and hands it back to me. “I’m a knife guy myself,” he says, producing a utilitarian looking folder. “I got this for fifty bucks.”

We men are a weird bunch. Throw a bunch of women who don’t know each other into a room they’ll always find something to talk about spontaneously. Throw a bunch of strange men into a room and they’ll mill around looking stupid. But if you introduce something of common interest – whether it’s sports, fishing, cars or the Sport Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, us guys will start blabbering like a bunch of old hens. I’ve never met Bob, but since have a common interest in pocketknives we start kibitzing about brands, blade types, prices and what we use them for.

“I use mine to open boxes around here,” Bob says. “But it’s nice to have in my pocket if things go south.”

Internally I wince. Just type “knife fighting” into You Tube and you’ll understand what I mean. Scary. If a guy ever comes at me with a blade you’ll see me turn into Jesse Owens in under a millisecond. I’ve always been a subscriber to the Monty Python School of Self-Defense. “Run away! Run away!” Cowardice is a pretty decent survival mechanism.

“I use mine as a glorified letter opener,” I say. “That’s it.”

After a few minutes of conversation Bob finds my Torx gizmo and I’m on my merry way. When I get home I adjust the pivot and the knife now works as advertised. I clip the Benchmade inside my pocket and go on with my day. The knife only weighs three ounces so I forget it’s even there.

I’ve carried a pocketknife since I was a twelve. My Dad bought me a Boy Scout knife when I was a Tenderfoot and I took it everywhere – even school. Today educators will call out the SWAT team if a kid’s got a nail clipper. But when I was a kid most of my school chums had pocketknives. And none of us ever used it for anything more lethal than whittling, show and tell or playing mumblety-peg. Those were more innocent times I guess.

But over the years I’ve picked up a variety of pocketknives; Swiss Armies of various sizes and functions, Leathermans, Gerbers and when I had a few extra bucks, something more elegant like a Spyderco, Benchmade or a Cold Steel. When I was a waiter I even had a pricey Laguiole wine opener that I never lent out because servers have a nasty tendency to “appropriate” corkscrews and pens. Suffice to say I always have a knife on me. It’s part and parcel of being a dude. When my godson joined the Cub Scouts I bought him a kiddie pocketknife with a dull blade which his parent’s probably locked up as soon as he got it. When my nephew’s old enough I’ll give him one too. It’s a rite of passage. Welcome to the world of men. But for all my talk, the one time I desperately needed a knife I didn’t have one…

It’s late Thursday afternoon and I’m driving my rented silver Dodge Charger through the Hollywood Hills in in Los Angeles. The day started out overcast and muggy but as the sun starts its dive into the Pacific the clouds have broken and air starts to cool. Stoked by the shifting sunlight the red clay roofs of the Spanish style homes higher up the hills start glowing like orange embers against a purpling sky. It’s very pretty, but I can only appreciate the view in quick glances as I maneuver my car through the serpentine streets. You have to pay attention driving around here. If you lose focus for a second you could run over George Clooney.

After I corkscrew down a tiny street called Laurelton I hit Laurel Canyon Boulevard. I want to make a left and head down to Sunset but there’s heavy traffic going uphill. As I wait for a break in the flow of cars I notice that an SUVs stopped in the lane opposite me. A heavyset woman has the passenger door open and is fiddling with the seatbelt of a small child seated in the back. Because the streets are so narrow the cars turning right off the boulevard have nowhere to go. As the severity of the jam increases exponentially with each passing second I roll down my window.

“Hey lady,” I say, my Jersey accent sounding incongruous to me after a week in Southern California. “You can’t stop there.”

The woman doesn’t respond. Either she can’t hear or is ignoring me.

“For crying out loud,” I say. “You can’t stay here!” Still no response.

The guy in the BMW convertible behind me starts leaning on his horn. I throw my hands up in frustration. What the hell does he expect me to do? Tired of waiting I get out of my car and walk over to the SUV to find out what’s going on. Sure enough I stumble into an interesting situation – the little boy in the backseat’s being choked by his seatbelt.

“Can you help me?” the woman says, panic flavoring her voice. “He’s in trouble.”

The little boy is blond, five years old and his face is red. His sister’s stroking his hair and telling him he’ll be okay. The kid’s dad is standing in front of the SUV looking helpless.

Without saying a word I get into the SUV and evaluate the situation. I don’t know how he did it but the seatbelt’s wrapped around the little boy’s neck like a noose. I gingerly try untangling him but quickly realize the belt’s locked and moving it will only tighten it around his neck. The little boy’s wide-eyed and starting to freak. He’s not turning blue but if he starts struggling he will. Time to make a decision.

“I’ve got to cut the belt,” I say.

“Do it,” the mom says. “Do it.”

I reach for the razor sharp knife in my pocket. To my utter horror I realize I left it in my hotel room.

“Do you have a knife?” I ask the mother.

“No.”

I walk over to the cars behind me and yell, “Does any one have a knife?” The all look at me, dull and uncomprehending.

“Do you have a knife?” I ask the guy in the BMW.

“Yeah.”

“Give it to me”

“Why?”

“Kid’s choking on his seat belt.”

The man fishes a Leatherman multi-tool out of his center console and hands it to me. I own one just like it. Opening up the knife I head back to the SUV. The little boy’s sister is starting to panic.

“Okay kid,” I say. “Just relax. I’ll have your brother out of here in a second.”

Seeing the knife in my hand the little girl yells, “Don’t hurt him!”

There’s no time for niceties. “Sit down right now,” I loudly tell the girl. Crying, she plops back in her seat. I feel bad for her From her perspective a sweaty middle-aged guy with a knife is standing over her brother.

I can’t cut the belt near the boy’s neck. If he flinches that’d be a mess. So I decide to cut the belt where it attaches to the car frame. I plunge the knife into the center of the belt, slash one way, then the next and the belt comes loose. With the tension released I get the belt off the boy’s neck. He’s fine. Scared but fine.

“Thank you,” the mother says.

“You’re welcome,” I say, folding the knife closed. “But I’d take him to the hospital just to be safe.”

Suddenly I’m conscious of the adrenaline boosted endorphins coursing through my system. Did I just save a kid’s life? I tell myself I’m being overdramatic. Maybe he would’ve been fine without me. Or maybe I was in the right place at the right time. One thing’s for sure; I’ll never be without a pocketknife again. I pat the little boy on the head and walk back to my car.

I hand the Leatherman back to the guy in the Beemer. “Thanks pal,” I say. “You might’ve saved a life today.” The guy looks at me like I’m from Mars. Friggin L.A. types.

I get into my car and when the traffic unsnarls I make a left onto Laurel Canyon Boulevard. I feel like fucking John Wayne. Flicking on the radio the song Zero by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs fills the car.

Shake it like a ladder to the sun
Makes me feel like a madmen on the run
Find me never, never far gone
So
get your leather, leather
Leather on, on, on.
You’re zero
What’s your name?
No one’s gonna ask you….

With the music blasting and wearing a grin a mile wide, I gun my Silver Charger’s engine and ride off down Sunset Boulevard.


Comments

Riding Off Into the Sunset — 96 Comments

  1. You’re awesome!! You were in the right place at the right time for that boy and his family and you saved his life when everyone else (including his Dad – what’s up with that??) stood around doing nothing. You should be EXTREMELY proud of yourself. Go Steve!!

  2. I actually have a seatbelt web cutter in my car, in the door pocket, for just such emergencies. And, I always have a small Swiss Army knife in my pocket except when I’m flying.

  3. I’ve been carrying a swiss army since I was seven. Always useful. I usually don’t carry one when I’m traveling, but maybe I ought to start.

  4. I’m also a member of the “never without a pocketknife” club. I carry a Leatherman Skeletool. It’s not the lightest or thinnest – but I find pliers to be invaluable and the bottle opener and screwdriver handy at times. And the size and weight are comforting – because I’ll never forget it. It’s like leaving the house without socks – when I get to the door I pat all my pockets and confirm everything’s where it’s supposed to be.

    And I agree with you on the knife-fighting – it’s fun to imagine but it’s not realistic. If someone came at me barehanded, I’d never escalate by pulling out my knife. And if someone came at me with a knife, I’m not going to pretend I can knife-fight – I’m better off running. In nearly any situation, you’re just unlikely to be better off by pulling out a knife. It’s far more useful, and realistic, to carry for exactly the situations you mention.

  5. That is great. I always carry a knife as well, just a single blade case but it gets the job done, which is usually picking the dirt from under my nails. I know the feeling of doing something awesome like that by just being in the right place. I stood at an gas station once with 20 other people while we all watched a car catch on fire in the street when I realized that i could put it out and grabbed a fire extinguisher to put out the fire. It gives you the greatest high.

  6. I carry two pocket knives at most times. A medium sized stiff one for the things that knives shouldn’t be used for (prying, etc) and a small sharp one for … you know, sharp things.

  7. The value of a pocket knife is immeasureable. I packed a knife to school from about age 12. I am rarely without one, even in my church pants. Sweat pants are a problem.

    Be Prepared. It’s one to live by.

  8. Still got the Victorinox Huntsman that my dad gave me when I was a pre-teen, but he also holds on to his grandfather’s knife with the smooth wooden handle and the blade that’s been worn to a slightly concave curve.

    If you want to teach someone about the emotional importance of knives, tell them to listen to “The Randall Knife” by Guy Clark. Excellent song.

  9. Sorry – bad, bad editing on my last post. I meant, I’ve still got the Victorinox Huntsman that my dad gave me when I was a pre-teen. My husband’s got a nice little Tighe, but he also holds on to his grandfather’s knife.

  10. I used to carry one around all the time, but for the past few years I’ve left my pocket knife sitting in my desk drawer. Like you, using it more for letter opening than anything else. But I think I will start carrying it around again, just in case, because after reading this I don’t want to be stuck in any situation like you almost found yourself in.

  11. A Spyderco and a Swiss Army penknife. Don’t leave home without them. Nary a day goes by where I don’t use one or both.

  12. funny, i was just thinking yesterday about how i always carried a knife to school. all of us did. somehow, we never had any thought of using it on SOMEONE. nowadays, kids who mistakenly bring a butter knife to school in their lunchbox get suspended or expelled. it’s sad.

    i have a gerber multi-tool knife, but rarely carry it with me. i might start again after reading this post.

  13. Great post, welcome back! We’ve missed you.

    I’ve always had knives since I was a kid, although I went a tad bit overboard in the teen years… no one aged 15 needs a combat knife…

    Now I just have a Gerber folder and a Gerber multi-tool for use around the house. I rarely carry since I used to get odd looks walking around NYC, but perhaps its time to start again. And yes, Californians are weird :)

  14. After receiving one as a gift a few years ago, I have become very partial to Kershaw knives. While most knives are very easy to open one-handed, Kershaws with the spring-assist are much easier and safer to close with one hand without worrying about chopping off a finger. At work, mine gets opened and closed at least 50-60 times a day, often more.

  15. Boys are goofy. How come they can’t talk about something sensible? Like… oh, say… The latest tabloid story on Tiger Woods, or very overpriced shoes… At least a knife does something useful (and it can come in handy if things “go south.”). Ever tried to win a street fight with a pair of Jimmy Chu’s? Or a rolled-up copy of PEOPLE magazine, for that matter?

    ~A~

  16. I carry 3 knives in my purse at all times – a Leatherman knock-off, used mainly for the pliers or to open boxes; a tiny Swiss Army knife for when I need something really sharp and for the tweezers and toothpick; and a small regular jackknife that I use to cut food sometimes. I’ve had the jackknife since I was 8 years old (26 years ago and it is still a good knife). My father bought my sister and I each one. He felt girls should have tools, including knives, just like most boys do.

  17. Huh… fancy that, I always carried a swiss army pocketknife around too since junior high. You’re right about that, it is a rite of passage… gotta love male genes, we love building something or breaking something. Pocketknives fulfill both purposes nicely.

  18. Great story

    I always carry a knife for work, two actually, a folding stanley type and a leatherman. Dont feel properly dressed without them.

    I keep another in my work bag for when I’m in the office

    oh yeah, and I’m a girl

  19. I have a small pocketknife in my glovebox, just in case I ever need it for an emergency. I bet that family added one to their after the scary choking incident.

  20. Great post. Just found your blog and I am reading, reading, reading…

    I had a somewhat similar experience once, although no knives involved. A guest in the restaurant where I worked was choking on some food. I was walking through the dining room, stopped, asked the guest a question, he couldn’t reply. Cannot speak or breathe says airway blockage to me. I’m a big guy, so I go around behind his chair, hoist him up, do the world’s fastest Heimlich Maneuver, then continue on my merry way. Wasn’t even my station.

  21. Although I’m female, I’ve carried a knife forever too. It’s amazing how often you need it when you’re a commodities broker and walking cotton/hay/corn fields with farmers.

    When I started flying all the time, I still carried it. Until 9/11. Sadly now, it just sits here at home. :(

    You are right – knives (in my world) are a male right of passage. When my favorite girl cousin got married I gave her husband a nice Gerber and wrote something about a good woman and a good knife were all you needed to make it in this world. I think I’m his favorite cousin-in-law! :)

  22. i’ve carried a knife since i was twelve too. no school issues, because just about every boy there had one. graduated to 110 folder buck knives, and when the leatherman came out, i found all the goodies too irresistible to pass up. my wife has given up asking me if i really intend on wearing my sheathed leatherman when getting dressed up in my suit for functions.
    dunno, just weird, i guess

  23. You saved someone’s life, awesome! :D

    As for pocket knives, no knives were allowed in my high school but nearly everyone in my college had a Swiss Army knife keychain. I still have one (a Wenger w/ a 1″ blade, scissors, toothpick, and tweezers). :)

  24. I love the elegant simplicity of a single bladed knife. For being just a blade, it does a myriad of tasks. I feel naked without mine, and use it nearly everyday.

  25. Great knife story. Thanks for sharing.

    To the individual, (Tom Post Reply #6), who stated he would never pull a knife on a guy attacking him without weapons for fear of escalating the situation, I agree with your right to make that choice, but my choice will be to pull the knife.

    Why? Because there is no reason, as a civilized human being, that I should have to fight anyone. People can injure and kill me with their bare hands and feet. They can find my knife and cut my throat. My posture would be, “Sir, I have a knife. I feel threatened. I will cut you if you move towards me.” Then it is his choice. If he moves in for the fight, he was made aware of my knife rules. If he thinks it through and runs away, he made a good choice. I will not run him down to cut him. That would be an unnecessary escalation.

    If I you are still having a hard time considering an alternative viewpoint, let me ask you this. Would you pull your knife out to keep the guy from hurting your wife or small child?

    See, predators should leave you alone.

    One last thought. If a predator launched an unprovoked attack on me or my family, there is one situation where I would not pull a knife. I would leave my knife in my pocket and pull a gun. “Sir, I feel threatened. Leave me alone. If you come closer, I will shoot.” The rest is up to the predator.

    Lastly, I would rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

    Joe

  26. Steve…you can write about anything. I enjoy your personality and twist on life. I’m going to go back to the beginning of this blog and start reading through it (again!). I’m going to eventually get curious enough to buy your book, just to read more of you, though honestly I know nothing about the world of waiters and it’s not a topic I usually would go peek into ..but I do enjoy the blogs I’ve read so far of people who work in the industry. My point is, I’m willing to buy a book about a topic that isn’t my first choice, because you are the writer and I want to read more “you.” …how about writing about people and places ….go traveling and tell us about the America you see… best to you, loved the post.

  27. Amanda: (#25) Yes you can win a street fight with a rolled up magazine or a shoe – if someone attackes you, use whatever you have on hand. If you can’t think up anything, go to a self-defense class; some karate studios hold them for the public, esp. for women. Awareness is your number one defense. And like Waiter here, awareness and interest – what’s the problem, what needs to be done, and how can I get it done? Be prepared. Congrats, waiter. You made many of us think today.

  28. The waiter is in top form. Could you please suggest a few books on how to write good English. You do such an excellent job and I want to learn this skill.

    Looking forward to your next book.

    Cheers
    Amit

  29. Steve, great story. I’ve always got my pocket knife too. I have never saved a life with it, but I’m ready. You’re a hero, man.

    One correction: You called the BMW car a beemer, but a beemer is a BMW motorcycle. A BMW car is called a bimmer. How do I know? I’ve been riding beemers for 27 years.

  30. There are 2 things I always take with me: a knife and flashlight. They say you should always take a towel but that hasn’t been as useful for me. Some of you have mentioned leaving behind your knife when traveling but you can place your knife in your checked luggage. I have flown to Greece, Japan, Mexico, Okinawa, and Turkey with a knife in my checked baggage without an issue. One place that may an issue is the UK and another country that was discussing a steak knife ban.

  31. I, too, have been carrying a pocket knife since I was 13. I certainly lament that 9/11 has made travelling with one significantly more annoying (but the effectiveness of many TSA rules has been well questioned elsewhere). Checking bags is inconvenient, and expensive. If I’m not planning on checking one already, paying $25 each way to have my pocket knife makes no sense. I could buy one when I arrive, and leave it there before I return for that price.

  32. I have typed and deleted this post three times as it seems against every other post I have read. Unfortunately, this post comes at a bad time for Australians. A 13 year old boy was stabbed and killed in the toilets of a private school this past week, by a fellow student. The thinking is that boys ‘think in the moment’ and the boy who allegedly stabbed the other was a ‘nice boy from a good family’. If he didn’t have a knife, he couldn’t have stabbed the other pupil. There have been several other stabbing incidents (not fatal) that have occured recently. I don’t think there is a need to carry knives or pen-knives.
    I have never needed to; really do you think you do?

  33. That’s a tragedy Aussie Mom. But if the guy in the BMW did not have a knife Waiter may not have been able to cut the belt and there’s a possibility there could have been another tragedy. So if you ban knives you might have the illusion of safety but unintended consequences like an average citizen helpless to extricate a child from a seatbelt.

    Life is all about managed risk. Swimming pools kill 300 children under the age of 5 in the USA every year. But we still have swimming pools. Car accidents kill over 2000 children under 5 and we still drive cars. According to FBI stats, In 2005 there were 2147 homicides in which a knife was used – out of millions upon millions of people who own and carry knives each day.. In all the above incidences, tragic as they may be, they only represent deaths caused by less than 1% of the owners of cars, pools, and knives. By the way, several children a year are killed in seatbelt choking incident but countless others have been saved because of seat belts. Because of accidents or the actions of a few, do the liberties of millions need to be curtailed? Should we ban pools, cars, knives and seat belts? I think not.

  34. Good point Gothamite Count. The same thing could be said about guns. 80 million Americans legally own about 200 millions guns. Using those same FBI stats there were 11346 homicides caused by guns in 2005. But 635 of those “homicides” were justifiable. 192 caused by citizens acting in self defense and 343 caused by the police. So the number of actual number of unjustified firearm murders, that is killing for the sake of killing, was 10,810. And of that number 7843 were caused by handguns. Also if you examine the stats, many of those murdered were killed by criminals who are ineligible to own guns anyway killing other criminals (drug wars, gang violence) and average citizens. For the sake of argument lets include those criminals in the 80 million owners of guns figure. In any case those firearms deaths are caused by .0000135125% of firearms owners. That’s a fraction of 1%. And the number’s even lower when you remove criminals from the equation.

    So if a tiny percentage of those 200 million guns in the US kill people should we ban all of them? And there are unintended consequences when people are not allowed to own guns. The Justice Department under President Clinton discovered that 1.5 million Americans used firearms to ward off attacks. In most cases the mere display of a firearm stopped the attack and only a tiny fraction of those 1.5 million Americans actually had to shoot someone. So if there were no guns it’s possible that all those people might have been assaulted, raped and murdered. And, when firearms are banned, criminals, who by definition don’t follow the law, will get them anyway or use other means to commit murder. IN NYC fatal stabbings are up 50% and that’s a city where it’s very hard to own a gun much less carry one. And in states where people are allowed to carry handguns the murder and rape rates either remained unchanged or dropped.

    And while all murders are horrible, the vast ,vast majority of guns in this country are never used for nefarious purposes. And while there are also accidents where adults and children are killed by guns, they also represent a tiny fraction deaths when compared to the number of guns in this country. As counterintuitive as it may seem, American guns are in very safe hands. That’s because the citizens who legally own them are some of the most law abiding citizens in the nation. If they weren’t the would be allowed to own them. And yes, while some nutjobs legally get their hands on guns (Like Mr. Cho in the Virgina Tech murders) they still represent a miniscule fraction of legal gun owners causing firearm murders.

    The most dangerous object in this country is the automobile, killing over 43,000 in 2009. And don’t get me started on tobacco deaths.

  35. Aussie mom, a knife is a tool like any other. Neither good nor bad. The whole idea that boys ‘think in the moment’ is silly. We are not mindless animals who cannot control our emotions and Saltlick72 and Gothamite Count have it exactly right. You ban guns, they’ll grab knives; ban knives, they’ll grab bats; ban the bat and they’ll grab rocks.

    You can’t ban everything that can be used to hurt someone else. One of the things I learned from years of combat training and helping teach rape defense classes is that anything can be a weapon. A pencil can be jammed through someone’s neck or eye – should pencils be banned?

    As for me, I have a Benchmade 580 that I carry as well as a Swiss Army tool. The Benchmade is my easy grab knife for quick openings and defense, the Swiss tool does everything else in the world.

    And the only reason I carry the Benchmade for defense is because out here in the Republic of Kalifornia only the criminals are allowed to carry guns.

  36. Thank you all! I was in an emotional place thinking about that poor child that died. Any other day of the week I would tell my kids that there is a greater chance of being killed in the car than by flying in an aeroplane. You are all right. I was wrong. It’s all in the statistics. You’ve almost got me thinking that I should have a defence weapon handy (although I think it’s illegal here) as I was verbally, and my car physically attacked recently. It’s good to share our opinions.

  37. Aussie mum, if nothing else you can carry a nice powerful flashlight in your pocket. You can get something like a Surefire Combat light that puts out 150 lumens of power.

    At worse, you can light that thing up and blind your assailant so you can run like the dickens. If needed you can also use it as a striking weapon. If nothing else, your car key can be used as a weapon – place it between your fingers with the key ring gripped in your fist. When attacked you jab for they eyes with it. If they can’t see you, they can’t hurt you.

    Also, you can see if you are allowed to carry mace. If so, keep that in your hand when you are out and in uncertain territory.

    Best rule is always this. Keep your defense tools where you can get to them quickly and always keep the hand you would grab them with empty and ready to react.

    You are right though, the death of a child is a terrible thing. I hope to god that none of us every have to experience that for ourselves.

  38. “Here I come to save the day”!

    I’m sure that mom is forever grateful to you and Mr. BMW.

    My friends and I used to play “stretch” with a pocket knife. The object of the game is to throw the knife into the ground making your opponent reach (stretch) with their foot. If they fall, you win. There was also one called “Chicken” where you throw the knife on the inside of the legs. {{shudder}} Usually the guys played that, we girls would just shake our heads.

  39. Hey dude–am 1st time reader,and a restaurant workperson. Loved your day. We food people are fortunate in that sometimes a boring or crappy day can suddenly turn into an adventure, providing that we accept what’s happening and let ourselves become part of it. Keep on keepin’ on……

  40. Joining the club: I’ve got my first army swiss knife when I was 10, and have always carried one. Nowadays I have a good victorinox multitool in the car, and a pocket swiss army knife on the laptop bag. At home I keep a normal pocket knife, switchblade, on the drawer of the TV rack. Never used one in a violent way, and they always helped me out of small emergencies.

  41. I want to be just like you when I grow up. You always surprise me by doing things that are expected of a sane person, but increasingly rare in this day and age. You’re not a bystander, you’re anything but ordinary.

  42. Aussie mum, your comment is, in my opinion, one of the things that is wrong with parenting today:
    Bubblewrapping the world for kids, and getting rid of everything dangerous, instead of, you know, actually parenting and teaching your child about acting responsibly.

    One day, all the helicopter-parented kids will end up in the real world, and they will have to deal with reality.
    Guess what child is better prepared for it: the one that never had to face anything potentially dangerous, or the one that has learned how to deal with and avoid hazardous situations?

  43. Great story! But is it a “composite”? Sounds way to dramatic to be real! I would prefer if the “heavyset” woman was instead a “voluptious blonde” and she spontaneously made out with you after you saved her child.

  44. Truth is often stranger than fiction Ben. That story went down exactly as I described it. You never forget a day like that.

    But yeah, it would have been nice if the woman was single and a knockout

  45. Yea, I call b.s. on this post. I’m a fan of the waiter, I even have his book, but I don’t buy this story. Couldn’t you have just unbuckled the seatbelt? Wouldn’t the father be by his son atleast, instead of aimlessly standing in the middle of the street. Also waiter, you didn’t mention seeing the father in front of the suv before you got out of your car. Come on…even Alanis Morissette couldn’t come up with this much irony.

  46. Thanks. I never criticize waiter but I don’t like for him to think he’s fooling everyone!
    I still like you waiter don’t get upset :)

  47. Hmmm……. lets think this through. Something J and Spud obviously have not.

    In all other instances where cops and EMTs have had to cut adults and children out of seat belts, why didn’t they just “unbuckle the seatbelt?” Because they couldn’t! Don’t you think the mother would have done that already! And why the hell do they sell seatbelt cutters in the first place?

    Here’s a story where a cop had to cut a kid out of belt in a similar incident. Why don’t you call him up and ask why he didn’t just “unbuckle the belt?”

    Think before you write.

  48. Some times personal accounts are embellished and this one sounded like that to me. It was the father – not unbuckling the seat belt – that got my attention: I can’t imagine the father acting as you claimed he did. Oh well, this story was appropriately set in the Hollywood Hills.

    Re your testy response Admin, I’m done writing comments here so I won’t have to think about this type of stuff any longer. Bye from a former fan.

  49. Human passivity in the face of emergency situations has been well documented. Here’s a link to an article discussing that dynamic.

    Spud, I wasn’t in that dad’s head. But it’s very possible that, in a crisis, he just shut down and didn’t know what to do. It happens to people every day.

    Adios

  50. It’s lunchtime here in Australia. I’ve been reading through the latest posts and had a bit of a laugh. YersiniaP – thank you for the apology; not many people would do that. I am not a helicopter parent (although I can see some potential!!)
    Instinct, thank you for giving me some fabulous advice. I’ve written down your notes about a suitable torchlight and I will go on-line to try and get one. That would have been the perfect weapon against the cyclist that abused me and slammed his arm into my new car.
    It would have been hard for him to cycle away with the ‘burn’ of torchlight in his eyes!!
    Thanks to all.

  51. I started carrying a knife last summer when I went camping with a former Army type. He strongly suggested I always have it on me in the woods, just in case. I’ve carried that over to “real life” and I have it in my purse. Better safe than sorry.

  52. Thanks for the link. Is that the source of inspiration for your story? The fact that they invented seatbelt cutters and that you include links that talk about human behavior just to back up your story does not negate the fact that the irony is just over the top. Maybe the whole home depot segment was fantasy. Either way, no need to get all defensive about it.

  53. You made an observation about a group of men in a room saying they would mill around looking stupid. We did an observational study at work one day……One man in a room (with women) will look uncomfortable, two will eye each other up like caged prize fighters, put three or more in a room ONE of them will adjust his privates. Nothing scientific about the whole thing, but we have observed this in various settings and with different people all with the same outcome.

  54. J, shut up. When you know what your talking about THEN you should speak, but right now you are acting like an ass.

    I’ve been in similar situations to the waiter and I have no doubt it went down as he describe it. People shut down in emergencies. Have you ever seen a car seat for a small child? Then you would know that ‘unbuckling the seat belt’ isn’t quite as easy as it sounds.

    Now, go back to playing WoW and let the adults have a conversation.

  55. Aussie mum, glad I could help.

    So you know, even a torchlight – love how you say that :D – of 80 lumens is enough to make someone see spots so anything above about 100 is going to REALLY blind them.

  56. Instinct, the 150 Lumen was on backorder so I ordered the 60 Lumen “flashlight” which was described as the original and suitable for basic self defence. It’s 5 inches and 5 ounces so seems quite practical for most purposes. I hope I’ve done the right thing!!
    Goodness, if you thought that torchlight was funny, imagine all the other words we say that are different…. In Queensland, they call bags, or luggage, ‘ports’. Bathing costumes can be called togs, swimmers or bathers. Thongs here are your flip-flops. There have been times when I’ve been annoyed because my kids watch too much TV and call nappies ‘diapers’, biscuits ‘cookies’ and lollies ‘candy’ My goodness there is a whole new blog…. Good talking to you. Thanks!

  57. Thank you for that. I’ve carried a knife since the cub scouts and now own hundreds.Some valuable collector items and some just different locks or whatever.The point is, at 55, I remember getting taken to the principal’s office in eighth grade with a buddy for horsing around in the lunch line. We got our punishment of a whack on the ass after we emptied our pockets.Guess what he said about my knife? “The pencil sharpener makes a better point.” What happened to that mentality?

  58. I am halfway into Waiter Rant and I am laughin’ and crying. I spent 10 years in the trenches, filter feeding on NYers heading to Vt every weekend. Took up forestry to get away from those “bad tippers” or maybe just people in general. Left school paid off and $10K in my pocket to start this career ten years ago.

    Well all, two years after the housing market bubble popped, I am still here growing houses for a living. They fired all those yuppie spawn suck ups, with the ivy leage papers, the gift of BS gab, and their blackberries in biz meetings. they left me… cuz real, flawless multi-tasking is a skill forged by fire in a resaurant. When they learn you can truely do what 5 flunkies did, actually get it done, and make everyone around you feel good, those skills will serve you well wherever you go.

    But,I still miss the money. I miss working with real people, and God I miss the shenanigans with the waitresses. Waiter is so right about the fix, I’m thinking about going back!!!!

    I checked in a couple months ago, to thank my old manager for putting up with me for so long. It was good, and sad.

  59. Great storytelling. The only way to really tell a story is to live through it.

    While the little kid may forget, his sister will always remember you saved her brother.

    Good job! ^_^

  60. I can’t believe how rude some of you people are being. First you attack his integrity, then you chide him for being defensive?! For godsake if you are going to question someone’s character at least allow them to defend themselves. The waiter seems like an honest man to me so far, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt. Does the story sound farfetched? Sure. But sometimes you do get an extraordinary day once in your life. Let’s not forget the other posts he’s made where the day was completely mundane (remember the one where he just made clam pasta and watched TV?). Now, if he was superman in every other post, I’d start calling him out on his bluff.

    Instinct: Thanks for your self defence advice! I never knew a flashlight could be used for self defence! It’s perfect: it’s long-distance, anti-contact, pro-running-away. Perfect for girls like me.

  61. come on alice, remember that one where he was the last person the old lady saw before she died…i think he performed cpr on her and called 911

  62. Wow! I keep a knife in my pocket-a cheap Chinese piece of shit that I couldn’t sell on ebay-but I’ve never had to use it for anything more exciting than cutting a box at my boring print shop job. Mebbe I should start a printer rant blog for insomniacs. :)

  63. Good Morning Instinct! I got my 60 lumen Surefire flashlight this morning. I took a gentle peek at the output (only from the side,not directly), and I’m still seeing stars! It’s small too, and will fit into the pocket of my car door. Thanks for the advice!

  64. Cool Beans, Aussie mum!!!! :D

    I’m saving my pennies right now for their new one that puts out 200 lumens. I know, overkill, but I won’t have any problem seeing in the dark

  65. To Joe Boyle, #39.

    If you ever pull a knife in and a threatening situation, you should be prepared to start cutting your opponent immediately.

    Do not wave the knife around and expect them them to back off.

    It *might* work, they might just back off.

    But more likely, they’ll just take it away from you before you could blink and shove it into your guts.

    If you have to pull a knife, your opponent should only become aware of it *AFTER* he’s bleeding.

  66. Great post, heroic works, but by God don’t give your nephew a dull knife. He’ll learn to always put too much pressure on the blade, and heaven forbid it ever slips. Dull knives cause more injuries than sharp ones.

    On a different note, I’m off to buy your book!

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