Once, when I was in the Navy, I caught a guy filming me while I showered. I’m telling you, if you’re thinking about joining, all those jokes about queers in the Navy? They aren’t jokes.
I was minding my own business, scrubbing myself down, when through the shower stall I saw a floating black hand, holding a Samsung camera phone, filming me. It took a second for me to realize what was happening. The moment was so unlikely, I almost shrugged it off as nothing. Then it hit me like a brick dropping on my head from the top of the Empire State Building. This guy was filming me. Like an idiot, my response was “hey!” and, of course, he ran off. I never got a glimpse of him.
In my towel, I ran out of the head (rest room), and searched the galley (cafeteria) for the first black person I saw, but he was gone. Beyond frustrated, I finished my nightly routine, and walked back into my berthing (barracks). The second I walked in, I found someone I was surprised to see, the new cook onboard. A big, fat, fabulously gay, black dude.
Before this incident, some buddies of mine had warned me that they had seen this guy watching me while I slept. The instant I saw him, everything made sense. His fat ass sitting there watching the tv, a look in his eyes like he had just fucked up; his breathing was heavy. I stared at the back of his head, studying him, a deep satisfaction washed over me. For once, nature had shown me who the criminal was. I’ve had my house broken into, my bike, my laptop, and my GoPro stolen (I really ought to lock up my stuff), and I’ve had a rock thrown through my truck window. There is nothing more frustrating than being a victim of a crime, and not knowing who, out of the billions of people in the world, it was. Not this time, this time I had my criminal.
On the other side of the berthing, I told a higher ranking leader what had happened, and asked him what I should do. He recommended I take it to security, but I knew I wasn’t about to do that. For once, justice was in my hands, and I had this mother fucker. I walked over to the big black guy, and said “hey man, I need to talk with you for a minute.”
“Whatchu want?” His voice was trembling.
“Outside the berthing.”
He got up and followed me out. I asked him straight: “where were you twenty minutes ago?”
“I be talking on the phone in the hangar bay.”
“So you weren’t just filming me in the shower?”
“No, you can look through my phone.” He pulled it out to show me the lack of videos he had had twenty minutes to delete. But I had all I needed, it was the exact same phone I had seen filming me in the shower. I could have done anything in that instant, shoved him, hit him, walked his ass over to security, but instead, I gave him a warning. I said “look, I know you were just filming me in there. I’m telling you right now, don’t do it again.” And then he walked away.
Afterwards, I took it to security. They told me to fill out a report, and to take it to the sexual assault coordinator onboard the ship. I handled the situation by the book, and surprisingly, it felt good. It felt good playing by the rules for once, finally doing “the right thing.” Only, nothing ever happened to the guy. NOTHING.
I told some of my buddies what had happened, and inevitably, the first question they would ask was “what did you do?” So I would tell them. Of course people responded in their usual ways, “you what? Dude, I would have kicked his ass,” or “dude, why didn’t you punk him?” The people who were asking me these questions were the same exact people who wouldn’t have done anything about it. They would have took it to security, but they would have never confronted the guy about it. It wasn’t until I called my Dad to tell him what had happened, that I began to regret how I dealt with the guy. My Dad has never been the condescending type, and maybe it was all in my imagination, but a part of me knew that he wished I handled it differently. I should have handled it. Of course he never said that, he said to just watch out for the guy and that I did a good job for handing it to security, but when I got off the phone, I knew I had dealt with it the wrong way.
The Salty Lesson
Our lives are full of stories like this, stories where we wish we had handled it a different way, we wish we had acted more ballsy, more dangerous. The moment is never black and white, we never know exactly what the right move is until after the incident (hindsight is 20/20).
I should have hit the guy. Society, moralists, pacifists, they all scream against this. Ask them how they handle their situations though, and be prepared to be unimpressed. You must have a sense of pride, a sense of honor. There are plenty of things you can let slide, plenty of issues you can handle “by the book.” Hell, if you weren’t handling them by the book, you’d probably find yourself in jail pretty often. But every now and again, someone will cross the line. Someone will go too far, and these are the moments we must throw out the rule book, and act as men. Being dangerous doesn’t mean not being scared, it means keeping your shit together when you are scared, no matter what it is. I wish I had ripped open the shower curtain, and beaten the shit out of the guy while I was balls naked. Even if I lost the fight, at least I could look back, and laugh at myself knowing I did the right thing, I did something I could be proud of. A guy crossed the line, and I shoved him back to the other side of it. You don’t have to fight every guy that crosses the line, just make sure you can look back and have a story you can be proud to tell your Father, your spouse, or your kids. I would love to say I spent the night in jail because I beat the hell out of a creepy pervert I caught filming me in the shower. Oh by the way, I did it completely naked. But I can’t say that, not for that story anyway.
I’m not saying violence is ever the answer. But ask yourself, why have you never been in a fight? Is it because you’re that good at disarming situations? Or is it because you let people take a shit on you? Think back on your life, and I’ll bet you’ll find more than one situation where you had grounds to hit someone. Like with anything else in life, be honest with yourself. Incidents like this will happen, and you won’t be able to handle it perfectly every time, and that’s okay. But don’t ever be afraid to tell someone to fuck off, shove them, or if those just don’t seem to be fitting enough, hit them. I have a lot of stories I’m proud of, but the one I’m proudest to tell, is the one where I punched a guy in the mouth for crossing the line. I lost that fight, but boy am I glad I can tell that story. Be dangerous baby.