Saturday, April 20, 2024

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Not even Bolt can catch him


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BAL is a coward. He’s the first to tell you so.

His first inclination at the sign of trouble is to run and I mean run. In a panic, he’ll push little old ladies and children out of the way if someone barely says, “Stick ’em up”.

BAL would rather, he said, be around to tell people how fast he ran away from a crime in progress than have someone reminisce about his heroics at his funeral or the moments after his death. BAL does not care to be a statistic of an untimely demise so he goes into self-preservation mode.

He is not the only one in the office who believes in feet first.

The story has been told of EZS who was covering a football match in a rural district when gunfire broke out. All the details have not been confirmed but the story goes that it was the first time the driver had to accelerate to catch someone fleeing on foot.

BAL’s bold declaration that he’ll run under any threatening circumstances led to a feeling of scepticism among some in the office.

Since then people have been coming up to him with different scenarios to test his steely resolve that fleeing – smoke rising from his heels – is his first and only option in times of distress.

One suggestion put to him was whether it would matter if he was out with his wife. His response: “She had better catch me because I will be running.”  

“But she’s a woman . . . . She might get hurt,” one man protested.

“Men get hurt too. Men die from the same wounds as women,” BAL responded.

When it was put to him that if a weapon wasn’t involved he could employ hand-to-hand combat, he replied: “I will r-u-n. Nine out of ten times the runner lives.”

By now people in the office were lining up with the feeble to the most far-fetched of ideas in an attempt to sway BAL from his “catch me if you can” dare to criminals. So far no one has come up with the ultimate scenario that would cause BAL to rethink his position.

How about if there’s a suspicious noise in the house in the “dead of the night”? BAL is firm in his belief that the police are there to protect and serve, so call them.

When one night his wife woke him to say she heard a noise in the house, he instructed her to listen again and, if she heard it one more time, then she should “ring the police”.

He went back to sleep.

“How about if it is your mother who hears a noise?” pleaded one person.

That happened, BAL explained, and he called the police and offered to send a taxi to bring her to his house after, of course, telling her to run first.

An unskilled fighter, he wasn’t about to walk into a situation where he had to confront a person of unknown strength, weaponry and determination. That just did not make any sense.

No matter the hypothesis, whether BAL was set upon by Hell’s angels or spied an innocent-looking man approaching on a dark street, he was making a break for it.

In a western movie BAL would be the first to react to the instruction: “Any man don’t wanna get killed . . . better clear on out the back.”

However, the point all of his challengers were missing was that BAL was once a victim of a robbery at gunpoint. So while someone reading the column might at first figure him to be a snivelling coward, that wasn’t always the case.

Having a gun shoved into your face, and the threat of death hanging so close that you can almost touch it, could make a person have a different perspective on life and reaction to situation.

The preservation of life is our first instinct and after a frightening episode, that instinct becomes sharper. But it may go either way. It may lead to paralysis in some others.

Some people shut away themselves to avoid any unsafe situation, impacting their quality of life.

Recent brazen attacks, like those committed in secrecy, are not just impacting on their immediate victims. There is a horrible ripple effect involving witnesses, family and friends.

My rough calculation of those affected by a criminal’s action would include his victim, the person who might witness the terrible deed and family members who would be traumatised by the crime. That is at least a ratio of three impacted people to every one robber, rapist, killer, et al.

Sometimes a whole community or the entire country is jolted, as is the case with drive-by shootings or attacks in places where citizens congregate in large numbers.

The concern, though, is that the victim struggles to overcome the effects. There have been cases where victims turn into vagabonds after being crippled by the effects of the crime, which can be manifested in many different ways.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor.


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