Given the last couple of posts here, i thought i'd share my recent experience with the forum:
I was out in front of my house a few weeks ago, just as the quarantine/lockdown was setting in. I recently decided to teach my kids to ride bikes during the lockdown, so they were riding in the street while I was out in the driveway practicing random martial arts stuff, a quiet afternoon up to this point.
Suddenly I see a guy come down the hill on a bike going straight towards a car coming slowly the opposite direction on our little street, he jumps off his bike and slams it hard into the car.
My kids are five feet away from this happening so I react as (I think) most fathers would and I ask (from about 10 feet away) "is there a problem here, do I need to call someone". The guy who had been on the bike runs up to me screaming at the top of his lungs about kicking my ass, he comes onto my driveway and ends up at one to two feet from me. At this point I have my hands up in a fence position and am telling in my most authoritative "cop voice" "I Need you off my property now, please get off my property, I can't have you on my property near my kids, I'm not going to let you be here". He gets close enough that I was about a second from a pre-emptive strike, then decides to back off into the street.
The gentleman who had been in the car was in my perhpheral vision on the phone, I had assumed he was a stranger and could tell he was on the phone with the police, but I was so engaged with the threatening person that I could not track his conversastion at all. Eventually, the guy (now 3 or 4 feet away) starts making random threats to burn down my house, hurt my family, destroy my property, how he is a gangster, spits at me and all sorts of things. He's also doing some Monkey Dance stuff after moving closer to 4 or 5 feet away including removing his shirt for our upcoming fight, evidently, pacing back and forth with his arms open, etc. My kids went inside at some point, but amusingly did not say anything to my wife, who was exercising with headphones inside and was completely oblivious to what was happening until after the fact.
I'm standing here not knowing what to do about this guy ranting in the street, wanting to fight me and threatening my family, so I decide to basically try to get him to leave, and I keep telling him things like "get on your bike, get out of here please, I can't let you sit here and threaten my family, cops are on their way", and similar things, he continues with his monkey dance thing and I am unsure what to do, other than to get him as far away from my house as possible verbally, he is keeping about a five feet distance, but still being physical threatening..at one point he starts barreling at me and I'm thinking "ok, this is it", and right at that point the gentleman on the phone steps up to me and quickly says "he has mental health issues, please don't do anything to him".
The second he says this the guy making the threats totally deflates, and stops moving towards me. Almost like he's another person. it turns out the gentlemen in the car was his caretaker, and that this guy has significant mental health/developmental issues. I have worked around mental health for years, and would not have known that this guy was anything other than just a thug, nor did I realize the relationship between the two men until I was explicitly told. He was in his late 20's, near as I could tell, and did not present in any way as having "typical" mental health disorders.
Eventually his caretaker took him home, and the police came to talk to me. Apparently the young officer who dealt with him knew this young man pretty well. She assured me that he never follows through on threats, is not even capable of planning things, and that these threats were a regular part of his mental health disorder when he decompensates in stressful situations - such as Covid 19, obviously. Apparently there is a home for people with mental illnessnesses right near me. I ran into the caretaker out biking recently, and he asked if he should come by with the young man and apologize. I said no, unless he he thought it would be helpful for the young man. The caretaker also thanked me for handling the situation well..which I did not realize I did!
It ended up being a very surreal experience. I grew up in a fairly rough place and my only context for this sort of thing was an actual threat, I was in "its going down" mode. There is some possiblility that this guy was a threat I suppose, but according to multiple people, he was not. Again, I have even worked around people with mental health issues, including conducting more interviews than I can count in our local Jail as part of my job. I had the complete wrong read on this situation, and I am very glad the gentleman in the car stepped in when he did.
Anyway, it's the only sort of event I've had in years that set off the adrenaline and kicked in reflexes to do things like use the fence and set verbal boundaries, and set myself up for possible physical confrontation. People used to pick fights with me as a kid, I've been in fights when younger, as well as being jumped/mugged and victimized by crime a couple times, but nothing like this for many years. It also made me realize I need to delve more into de-escalation, particularly with inebriated people and people with mental illness. However, the fence and allowing him to use distance to save face worked exactly as it's supposed to. It was almost uncanny how once he got close enough, the hand position and firm tone made him back into the street and keep his distance. I've used it before, but with less escalated people, where the result was less clear cut.
So, just thought i'd share a strange and relevant experience. Any input, similar experiences etc. are welcomed.