Death Or Iced Tea

I was just a few seconds away from getting punched in the face by a homeless man.

Or maybe stabbed.

I wasn’t sure which, but as I approached the guy I was certain that these were the only two fates I could possibly suffer.

When you decide to go to Bareburger with your family early on a Sunday evening, a physical confrontation with a down-and-out gentleman is the last thing on your mind. Yet, as I dipped into my beautifully arranged cone of sweet potato fries, that is exactly where I found myself.

The man walked into the restaurant and went from table to table asking for spare change. And while I don’t think there was one person in the place who didn’t have empathy for the guy – we were in a super-liberal neighborhood in Brooklyn, after all – this didn’t fall in lines with anyone’s idea of a low stress weekend night out.

And while the Bareburger management didn’t think it was a situation that needed addressing, our waitress certainly did.

She confronted the man, told him this wasn’t the place for pan-handling and asked him to leave. Which he did not like.

And while I was witnessing this all go down, my mouth agape revealing what is actually one of the better restaurant-chain burgers in the tri-state, my wife (always at least two steps ahead of me – how does she do that?) says, “you have to go do something!”.

Of course I have to go do something! How did I not think of this myself?

But as I stood up to go do the right thing – which, of course in my mind was the misguided equivalent of anointing myself some sort of NYC hero – something very interesting happened.

Nothing. I felt nothing.

I was certain that this confrontation was not going to end well. I feared that, at best, I would suffer a black eye and, at worst, my spleen would be punctured like Swiss cheese by some blunt, concealed weapon and that I would have to be patched up and taken away by EMTs (who are actual heroes on the streets of New York), yet I remained remarkably calm. I don’t remember my heart rate jumping up, or breaking into a sweat or even clenching my fists as I approached the guy.

I should have been in flight of flight. And as I approached danger (so I certainly wasn’t fleeing) I was expecting my mind and body to go into an adrenaline-fueled chaos. But as I’ve made abundantly clear, I felt as cool as the fresh lettuce atop the burger that was waiting for me back at my table.

All of this, of course, got me thinking about training (weird segue, right?!?).

{And that is the appropriate spelling of segue. It’s not segway. Craziness.}

For nearly every rep you take in training you want to maintain the cool facade I displayed the burger joint. Sure, you should be aware of what is going on, respect the weight, even have some fear of the possible repercussions. Don’t get too amped until you need to.

Honestly, this can be one of the downfalls of training in groups. If you get a certain chemistry of people training together – men and women who are fired up and full of energy – you may find yourself a little more pumped up than you need to be. And that’s fine and fun and leads to a really enjoyable training session. Just don’t dump all the adrenaline before you have to.

Because when that meaningful weight is on the bar – the weight you’ve never attempted before – you are going to want to get lit as fuck. Most people are way too cautious when it comes to their attitude in approaching big weights. And that makes sense because that weight – like the homeless gentleman I confronted – may be trying to kill you.

But attacking these big weights with aggression rather than fear is a learned skill that needs to be worked on over time. Unfortunately there is no way to really stage this type of scenario other than actually putting big weight on the bar and trying to move it.

I’m not promoting being reckless or completely throwing caution to the wind and attack max weights more often than sensible or loading up a weight that just ain’t gonna happen. But when the planets align, you’re having a good day and the workout calls for a big attempt, for Christ sake, let yourself get carried away and attack that bar. It will become more natural and more beneficial the more often you do it.

Turns out that I didn’t get stabbed or punched or even shoved. Was this homeless gentleman happy that I was insisting he not be belligerent toward our server and that this was not an appropriate venue to ask for personal donations? He was not.

He tried to intimidate me and present the threat of violence. But after a short back and forth in which he saw that I wouldn’t relent. He left.

He was submaximal weight on the bar. No reason to get too fired up after all.

I’d love to say I returned to my family as the conquering hero. That the entire restaurant burst out in applause at my efforts. But it didn’t go that way at all. I casually walked back to our table, sat down and ate my now-slightly-cold french fries.

The manager did finally come over, apologized for the disturbance and said that he would comp our drinks.

So ultimately I put myself in harms way for a free Peach Green Iced Tea.

Totally worth it.