I was 28, newly sober and staying at my mother’s in The Central Area, my recovery system was still racing and I often stayed up too late at night drinking coffee and listening to Jazz and Motown. I ran out of cigarettes and got hungry one evening about midnight, the only place open that time of night was a Capitol/ Broadway KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) about 14 blocks away, so I got my cigarettes at a nearby service station and marched up to the KFC. Two orders were ahead of me. An elderly Japanese man stooped over and leaning on his cane, and a pack of rude and racist White teenage thugs, the later were hurling insults at the older gentleman who ignored them as he patiently awaited his order. I started to intervene and tell the youngster to shut the hell up, but the older gentleman wasn’t concerned, so I let the young punks rattle on showing off their stupidity and false bravado. The elderly Japanese man received his order and turned to exit as he ignored the yelping pups; he casually looked up at me and gracefully returned my bow, and continued past us in a dignified manner. By the look on his calm and unaffected face, I could tell he was not upset by these rowdy posturing boys, so I relaxed myself and let go of the anger I was feeling.
The youngsters were still going on and on about the old man, and they seem to be fantasizing about catching him and ripping him off, at that moment my ego got in the way of my discretion and I snapped. I admonished them, “You know you shouldn’t be calling the old Japanese man names and messing with him anyway, but if you would have looked closely at his cane… you’d have seen a fine line going all around the top where the sword comes out.” Their laughter and ridicule abruptly ended and as the stared blankly at each other, as though a powerful gust of wind had suddenly had suddenly knocked them senseless. Or in the case of these young ruffians, suddenly had sense knocked into them, they seemed to collectively dismiss the temptation to attack what they assume was their “defenseless” prey.
I continued, “If you decide to take him on in future also -plan on losing a limb or maybe even your life, and having your crying momma identify your bloody remains”, glaring at them and I added, “I suggest from now on when you see him, or one of those other “helpless looking older people”, you quickly and quietly cross the street.”
The stunned children checked me out very carefully, and seemed to realize I was an old guy of about age 30, but not a real old guy in my 50’s, 60’s or even ancient 70’s, but they didn’t respond to my comments or look me directly in the eyes. The young pack of teens silently exited the restaurant with their food order, I watched them initially start back in the direction taken by the Japanese man, and though they probably lived in that same direction,they quickly took an alternate route through the park. I felt bad because I had disclosed to these young punks a secret part of the older man’s defense, but good that I had admonished the youngsters, who were racially abusing the Japanese gentleman, because he was Asian and elderly. Ironically within two weeks after attending a Mufune/Musashi Trilogy movie marathon, two young Goth kids gleefully shouted “Kill Him”, as they awkwardly tried to murder me. But that’s another story.