I was feeling the pinch of my new pointy cowboy boots as I walked down the sidewalk in a very nice neighborhood. It was a cold December day in Fort Worth, Texas and I had just dropped off a car to a ritzy house in this affluent neighborhood and had a two mile walk ahead to get to the city bus stop. The boots had looked really nice in the store, and I'd always wanted a pair. But I was so used to wearing my New Balance tennis shoes that the boots were taking some getting used to.
I saw a man picking up a big box on the front porch of another nice house and walking away. He appeared to be of middle eastern descent, but he was dressed like a thug from the hood. I'm not a judgemental guy or into profiling, but this fellow did not look like he belonged in this area. Just as I was mentally scolding myself for being so quick to judge a book by its cover, I saw him go up onto another porch and grab two boxes. I remembered a TV news report I had seen recently about people stealing packages with Christmas presents inside right off of people's front porches. And that seemed to be exactly what I was witnessing here.
"Excuse me?" I called out. The man quickened his pace, and yet he headed for yet another front door with a stack of packages outside of it. "Hello, sir." I caught up with him, and the guy spun around.
"Get the hell away from me," he snarled with a thick accent.
"What are you doing?'
"Mind your own damn business, I don't have to explain myself to you."
"I was just a little concerned that you might be stealing from people, and that's a really horrible thing to do at Christmas time."
"Oh really, you think so? Well stealing is how I make a living, whether it's Christmas or Easter or the fourth of July. You need to piss off or we're gonna have a big problem."
"I think we already do."
"Really?" Quick as a flash, he sucker punched me in the jaw and I went down hard. I laid on my back feeling dizzy and wondering how fast I could get back to my feet. He pulled a blackjack out of his back pocket and said, "I hate people like you, trying to do the right thing. I am gonna make you so sorry you got out of bed this morning."
I looked up and saw my opportunity. I kicked him with the point of my boot right in the jingle bells, and he yelped and fell to his knees. I climbed to my feet and gave him a knee to the chin for good measure. The boxes fell to the ground all around him as he came down, and I saw a couple of men running towards us.
"Are you OK?" asked the first man.
"I will be. This guy was stealing boxes from people's front porches."
"We know, it's been going on for a week now. I'm Jerry Baxter, and this is my brother Rich. We're in the neighborhood watch group, and you just did us a big favor."
"Believe me, it's my pleasure."
Rich got on the phone and called the police.
"Do you live nearby?" asked Jerry.
"No sir, I'm Bill Thomas and I just delivered a car to Scott Montilla."
"I know Scott. Where are you headed?"
"I was walking to the bus stop, then making my way to the train station."
"Please let me take you to the train station."
I smiled. "That's awfully nice of you, but I don't want to put you out."
He waved his hand. "You just did us all a service.so this is the neighborhood saying thank you. And Merry Christmas."
"Merry Christmas to you," I said, feeling warm all over.
As Jerry drove me to the Amtrak station, I began to think that even with the initial discomfort, these boots were a good idea after all.