Hostile Rick


The wife, the kids and I spent today in Barcelona. Wonderful city, beautiful weather, fantastic time.

We caught the 8:35 pm train back to Hostalric—a small town about 15 miles from where we’re staying in Arbucies. It was dark outside, and the platform was empty. So was the parking lot—save for two people. There was a man and a woman. From afar it looked/sounded as if they were laughing/hugging. I said to my wife, “If he was attacking her, what would you do?” It was a hypothetical—clearly they were kidding around.

We walked closer.

Sorta clearly.

We walked closer.

Kinda clearly.

We walked even closer.

Not clearly. At all.

They weren’t joking around. He had been pushing and shoving her. Now the man had the woman by the wrist, and he was dragging her along. She was crying—loudly. He was forcing her toward the platform, where the train was approaching. My first instinct, albeit hesitantly, was to approach; to at least yell out, “Hey, what the fuck are you doing!”

My wife says she felt the exact same instinct. But she turned to me and said, “You’re with your kids.”

I hesitated. Did nothing. The man forced the woman to the train, and we walked past, heads down. Ashamed. I hate myself. My wife hates herself. But what were we supposed to do? My two children, 7 and 3 1/2, were with us. We’re in a foreign country; no telephone; no access to the authorities; nada. Do I try and stop him? What if he has a gun? A knife? There is, literally, nobody else around. Blackness.

I can hear her crying, and I can’t stand it. I should have done something, but I’m not sure what that something should have been. Try and put him in a headlock? Grab her away from him? What?

I did nothing.

23 thoughts on “Hostile Rick”

  1. Dude. Don’t know what to tell you, and don’t know what you could have done. Send a message to the universe to protect that woman? It’s selfish, but Earl is right – you’re with your KIDS.

  2. You did the right thing. God only knows what was wrong with the man. You didn’t create the problem. Smart move. Walk away safely with your wife and children. Don’t feel guilty!

  3. Awfully tough call. Probably did the only thing you could do.

    Coincidentally, I was stopped at a light on Wednesday near my house when a couple were arguing on the sidewalk beside me.
    She pushed him, and he laid back and socked her right in the face – hard.
    Couldn’t believe it. Her sunglasses went flying.
    Fortunately – big city, broad daylight – plenty of folks got involved.
    Chased down their two dogs that were let go and had turned the corner to get in the highway.
    An ambulance happened to be parked at the corner; it flashed it lights and came right up. Three paramedics got out and surrounded them – and they were still yelling at each other.
    Clearly a regular occurrence in their relationship.
    Still, I was stunned. Had never seen that. Had my husband been in the car, he would have leaped out and pounded the crap out of the guy, because that makes him see red.

  4. Chrustian Sorensen

    I respectfully disagree with you, Jeff, and the other comments. Did you not trust your wife with your kids, that they would be safe? I don’t mean to impugn her by asking, from everything you write about her we should all be so lucky to have half the partner she is. I would say the rationale behind this post is your guilt. Do you have a cell phone? Do you know the emergency number? Even ineffective action taken in another language is better than nothing.

  5. Christian Sorensen

    Ah, just read “no phone”. Still, I feel like you know that you should have done something, and that’s why you wrote with a tinge of doubt and maybe regret. When we do the truly right thing, we know the costs but we also know there was no acceptable alternative. Do you feel that way?

  6. Jeff,

    If I were in your shoes I think I wouldve felt the samw way. It is such a tough situation especially since you’re with your family. Feel for ya man!


  7. It’s a tough call to make, Jeff, especially in a foreign country with your wife and kids standing there. I might have tried to say something to the guy, but, not knowing if he had a weapon or if it might have made things worse on the woman, I don’t think I could guarantee I’d do anything beyond that.

  8. I probably would have done the same thing, but something to think about: “You’re with your kids.” Show them how to do the right thing, not how to put your head down and ignore abhorrant behavior….maybe? That woman was someone’s daughter….

  9. No right answer here. Can’t put your kids in harm’s way, Jeff. That’s the bottom line. You’re not a cop or a martial arts expert. If things went wrong it would have been your family in danger. Can’t do it.

  10. I’m disappointed..why is it so hard to do the right thing. Walk up and slap the guy..if that doesn’t work then you make a fist and punch the guy. You could have been her hero and she needed you.

    1. I’ve given this much more thought, and I just can’t agree. I am not, under any circumstances, putting my wife or kids in harm’s way so I can play hero. I punch him—what does he do in return? Does he punch me? Kick me? Am I a bloody pulp on the ground? I’ve never thrown a genuine pain-intended punch in my life, and I have a hard time thinking my debut will result in a knockout.

  11. I wouldn’t dwell on it. Doing “the right thing” is never as back and white as these Hollywood movies and commenters would have you believe. Maybe you should have done something, but you are correct: what if the guy had a gun or knife and ends up hurting you or possibly killing you? Yes, we’d all love to be the hero, but in today’s world of insanity, you never know who’s packing.

  12. Jeff,

    I think I might have acted differently, more impulsively. I wish that I could say with all certainty I would be as clear headed in that situation as you were.

    Life is not a comic book, were all crawling along in the wilderness despite all the trappings of our “sophistication”, our technology. A man’s prime responsibility, a parents responsibility is to protect their young, not throw on a cape and be a hero. Sounds like Jeff was in a horrible situation and remembered that above all else…we should all be so lucky if presented with the same hellish circumstance.

  13. Jeff, an absolute pleasure to make my return. I hope you brought some beers because I plan on staying this time. And don’t worry, I will take my shoes off at the door so as to not make a mess.

  14. Clive and Eric nailed it. One’s family takes precedence above all. I commend you for not acting on impulse- in the same circumstance, I’m ashamed to say, I probably would have done something stupid.

  15. Was there anybody else at the train station? Like a transit worker or something? Or did the station have a pay phone? I agree that there’s no percentage in putting your family at risk. But noting the train they got on, the time, the direction, and giving authorities a description of what you’d seen would have been a good compromise. Sorry you had to deal with that!

  16. I would of told my wife to take the kids to the car. I then would have tried to put a stop to a women who was being abused. Women should never be abused. Sometimes you have to make a stand.

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