The Power of Avoidance

One of the many things that I consistently remember from two decades of training is Mike Pannone’s advice of “Avoid, Evade, Defend” as priorities of action. Similarly, Claude Werner, the Tactical Professor, refers to this as the “Avoid, Escape, Confront, Resist” paradigm. A few months ago, I found myself in a position to use this tactic.

As a friend and I were headed down to the hunting lodge we stay at in SC last year, we stopped off at the Fort Mill Cabela’s on the NC/SC line. It was midday, and we were hungry. On the main road, there was a Wendy’s attached to a gas station. We parked and went into the dining room, joining a short line of people waiting to place orders.

Service was slow, and an older gentleman was working the register. A young man apparently in charge of the restaurant began to harshly berate the older man and other restaurant staff to complete tasks. Ahead of us in line was a young woman with two young children in tow.

When her turn came to order, the manager rudely pulled the older man off the register and ordered him to go do something else in back. Apparently, the young woman took offense to this. A verbal dispute ensued, in which the manager refused her service and tried to take the orders of other waiting patrons. The woman took even greater offense at this, indicating that no one else was going to order and splayed herself out in front of the registers.

I can’t tell you what happened after that, because my friend and I chose that moment to leave and go eat elsewhere. From my perspective, both parties were guilty of some inappropriate and unwarranted behavior, but we weren’t involved in any way and didn’t want to be. My guess is that local law enforcement was summoned. Given how quickly both parties were escalating, I wouldn’t be surprised if the dispute turned physical. Not my circus…

So in Pannone’s hierarchy of advice, we checked out in the avoidance phase. Sticking around simply wasn’t worth it. I don’t think we would have gotten hurt had we stuck around, but I also wouldn’t have wanted to be caught on camera as a spectator to such an incident.

Virtually every instructor I’ve trained with (and most of those are featured in AARs here on the blog) recommend a similar strategy. As mentioned earlier, Claude Werner is one specific example. If you don’t have to be there or be involved, get out or away!

I long ago came to the conclusion that unless my family or I am in direct danger, I’m not getting involved. I suggest you do the same. There are always exceptions, but those are few and far between. Unless something is so profoundly obvious and blatant that it will shock the national and social consciousness, don’t get involved. Very likely, it won’t be worth it in terms of the potential effects it can have on your life and career, financial and otherwise. George Zimmerman is Exhibit “A”. Yes, he was exonerated, but he is also still unemployed and divorced. A harsh reality for sure, but you must consider what you are willing to literally lose everything for.

Again, the argument can certainly be made that my friend and I were in no particular danger, but I think the concept is valid nonetheless. There was no good reason for us to remain there. Indeed, that should be your goal regardless of whether or not you choose to carry a gun every day. Evade or escape if you can, don’t get involved unless you are compelled to by circumstance, and use force as a last resort. It’s cliche, but just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

As a final note, and returning to the event described above, think about what you want to teach your children. While I’m sure this young woman thought she was exhibiting justice to her young children, I have to wonder if some other experiential lessons weren’t also being taught.

Stay safe out there, and remember that even though you may not be looking for trouble, trouble may indeed find you. Avoid it if you can!

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