In Every Guy, A Gary Cooper: The Men's Guide On When To Intervene
JOE QUEENAN: I think one of the things about being a man is you're aware of the fact that there are certain situations where you have to intervene and perhaps physically.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
That's Joe Queenan, writer, critic, intervener and sometimes grudge holder. Here's his take on the idea, a man's got to do what a man's got to do.
QUEENAN: Years ago I was in a bank lobby filling out a deposit form. The bank was not yet open. A man I knew casually began chatting with me - we bantered. But in the background, over by the ATM machine I could hear trouble brewing. A big burly construction worker type was swearing at a woman who had, so he claims, cut in front of him in line. His language was graphic and abusive. She was about 5-foot-4, he was about 6-foot-3. She finally turned around and said, I don't know what your problem is. My problem is - expletive deleted - like you. He used the C-word. The woman was holding an infant. I looked across at my bantering acquaintance. My look said we have to confront this guy but I cannot take this guy by myself, I need you with me on this one. I am sure my look said that. I was sure I had backup. So, I turned to the big lummox and I said, I don't think you can talk to her that way. Why not? She's holding a baby. What are you going to get into it with me now? The man I'd been chatting with waved at me, we should have lunch he said. And then he vamoosed. That situation could've turned ugly. The woman ran out without thanking me. The big oaf was now right in my face, the last judgment was at hand. Suddenly the door of the bank swung open and a tiny man, the assistant bank manager strode out and said, Sir this is a federally insured institution and language like that will not be tolerated. The man swore then disappeared. I think the federally insured institution comment threw him off. He never got his money. Men all have a bit of Gary Cooper inside them. A voice telling them that they cannot let the bad guys prevail. Not all of them at least, not all the time. Because every time we let the Charles win we subconsciously admit to ourselves, I have reached the point in my life were that jerk thinks he can say that in front of my mother or to a woman holding a baby, men hate guys like that. But what men really hate are the guys who bail on them. The guys who bury their heads in the newspapers or move to another subway car or scurry away like field mice. It's been about 15 years since that guy chickened out on me that morning. We never did have lunch. I'm kind of choosy about my dining companions. Stand up guys only.
BLOCK: That's Joe Queenan. A stand-up guy as far as we know and a regular columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
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