I’ve spent a decent portion of my life studying martial arts. Mainly sparring, but I’ve had some basic training in Goju-ryu and in the nunchucks with my uncle. I’m confident that I can hold my own in a fight.
This being said, last Friday night I was sitting on my living room couch with crutches nearby, doing my best to keep off a tendon I tore two weeks prior. I was talking to my girlfriend over the phone while outside a classic rock band was playing and a keg was being tapped. All of a sudden I hear a knock on the sliding door. I peer outside to find a guy in a red T-shirt attempting to ask me a question. I gesture for him to come in.
The guy walks in and immediately sits down on the couch next to me and asks, “Is Justin here?”
“There’s no Justin here,” I say, confused.
As he continues to insist on finding Justin, five more people waltz in. They stand around me as the first guy, who seems to be the ringleader, heads toward one of the bedrooms, looking for Justin.
“Look, there’s no Justin here,” I say.
I race over to the ringleader in an attempt to confront him. He ignores me, and heads toward the fridge. At this point I’m angry. The ringleader glances in the fridge and then the freezer, all the time ignoring me. I’ll admit right now that sometimes I don’t have the best temper. I explode at him.
“What the FUCK do you think you’re doing? Get the fuck out of my house.”
The ringleader grins slightly at me as he and his posse leave. On their way out they grab a bag of fries and a box of Rice Krispies I had lying on the coffee table. I pick up the phone and tell my girlfriend that I have to go, grab my crutches and storm outside.
It’s the first time in my life I have to defend myself and I’m crippled. I couldn’t care less. I was pissed.
While looking for the intruders, I find two roommates, Josh and Greg, and my good friend Chris. A few minutes later, we find the Rice Krispies bandits heading back toward our house. Their ringleader drops the bag of fries and heads toward us. I yell, “What the fuck do you think you were doing? Why the fuck were you eating my food?”
While eating my Rice Krispies the ringleader says, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
I push him and repeat my question. At this point his posse surrounds him. Greg jumps to my right while Chris guards my left side slightly in front of my injured leg.
“Man you’re drunk,” the ringleader says.
“I’m drunk!?” I yell. “What the fuck do you think you were doing?”
“Man I don’t want to hurt you, but if you wanna fight, come on.” He hits his chest with the back of his hands in the classic “I’m macho” style. I gesture for him to start but the ringleader starts to back down.
“Man you’ve got glasses I don’t wanna hurt you,” he stutters, adding “I’m Hawaiian, you don’t wanna mess with me.”
I stand there, silent.
They walk. The posse moves on ahead but the ringleader lags long enough to quip about how Hawaiian he is. Yeah, this is no great epic of how I pummeled the intruders. But I’m proud that I stood my ground, crippled or no.
Being on crutches, I’ve learned a lot about human nature. Most of it is actually good. I’ve met numerous friendly people over the past few weeks – strangers who open the door for me, or let me into a classroom first.
With large bodies of people, it’s not always the same. A friend destroyed his wrist in the second week of the quarter, forcing him to drop out of school. When he petitioned for a refund, he got 90 percent of it back. Attending that first week’s worth of course introductions somehow made him ineligible for a full refund. And everyone at UCSB knows how drunken groups of I.V. residents can be less than humanitarian.
But despite all this I am not discouraged because I have seen unbelievable acts of kindness from people. My beautiful girlfriend Arcelia drops me off on campus or at my work in downtown Santa Barbara. And when our schedules don’t coincide my friends Jade and Chris are always happy to help drive. But what has inspired me most is a taxi driver named Mustafa. Mustafa makes his living driving people and yet for some reason he drives me to work or home free of charge.
Being disabled has shown me the love humanity is capable of. Maybe there’s hope for us yet. As for the ringleader and his posse, maybe someday you’ll graduate from attempting to take advantage of people who have one functioning leg to attempting to take advantage of people with two legs. I’m doubtful, though.
Andrew Lum is a junior law and society major.