Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Asserting at the Bar: The Con

Maybe it happened to you. You were conned out of money but you never quite could forget about it. This happens in drug transactions all of the time.

A dealer sees a guy seeking drugs and asks, Looking for something? I've got something.

He brings you to a bar and the bartender is amazingly nice, knows the dealer. She gives you free drinks. You're starting to enjoy yourself.

The dealer defines the drug deal, asks you for money so he can get you your drugs. You tell yourself, Don't do this. Your rule is, always get the drugs first, THEN pay. But he insists on money up front and you're drunk, so you give him the money with that funny feeling that you've been duped.

And you never see him again.

Until one day you do. You're at a bar and he's there.

What do you do? Ah, such a marvelous variation on assertiveness. You don't always find such examples in the literature, do you?

So seriously. What do you do?

You're thinking,

Do I deck him? Do I talk to him? Do I say nothing? Do I run?
Do I make small talk? Can't I deck him?
Don't look at me. I don't know. I'm serious in that I don't know. I should say, NO, of course you don't hurt him, you don't hurt anyone, but there are some places where people do aggress and they seem to gain respect for aggression. Sure, they're gang-bangers, but perhaps that's the culture we're in right now, in this example.

But let's say you don't want to be in that culture, that perhaps although you've been conned, you've been done wrong, you're a little reluctant to act as they act, to do as they do. Should you say something?

Ordinarily the therapeutic directive would be a resounding YES! Be assertive! Sure you should say something, perhaps something meaningful that teaches a lesson, as in, I know you conned me once, but FYO, I'm a nice guy and I won't risk going to jail to punish you for that. But the next guy might, so you should clean up your act, get a real job.

But I feel that in that case, if you say that, you might get decked. It's a dangerous thing, dealing with dangerous people. Assertiveness isn't the law everywhere, and it's not understood everywhere.

So just as I've suggested before, that you don't tell a big scary guy who cuts in front of you while you're in line waiting for a show, Excuse me, sir, but I'll bet you didn't know that the end of the line is actually back there (pointing to the end of the line), likewise I would suggest, Don't start with a drug dealer.

And why are we dealing with drug dealers, again?


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