“You wanna fight?” Be careful how you are heard, it might cost you your teeth.

I was a teenager, driving with my friends and listening to loud music, always a good idea right? I was pulling into a gas station and singing along to the music without really thinking. I pulled up to the pump, filled up and went inside to pay. Right as a finished paying a large man came in looking rather angry. As I’m not currently a large man you can imagine that this is the type of man I would avoid as a scrawny teenager. The large man stopped in front of me and angrily said, “you wanna fight?” He wasn’t kidding. He continued, “you drove by and yelled at me ‘you wanna fight’, so I’m ready, let’s go.”

The gravity of the situation dawned on me. I had been pulling into the gas station and mindlessly singing along to a song with my windows down and the song lyrics said, “you wanna fight the power, you need the power to fight.” Now there was a bear disguised as a man wanting to fight me, not good. Luckily I somehow managed to half apologize half run out the door back to the safety of my car.

This event taught me a few lessons.

  • People hear what they want. The bear/man was likely a “fight prone” gentleman, so he heard what he wanted to hear, granting him the opportunity to pound a punk kid.
  • People will mishear you in general. I’m pretty sure I could say the same phrase ten times and find fifty different versions of what was heard. People mishear and hear things out of context, it just happens. It’s best to prepare for it.
  • Often you will be heard when you don’t intend to be. I was singing in my car, I didn’t expect people outside my car to hear me, but they did, and it might have cost me my teeth.

The bottom line is, be careful what you say; a bear might me listening.

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