Sunday Food for Thought: What Would You Do? The Flight or Fight Instinct

What Would You Do: The Flight of Fight Instinct

So, you think you're perfect, do you?  Me too.  At least, I try. I used to work very hard at it; until, one day, I realized perfect is a lot of trouble.  Since then, I just try to do my best. WWJD and all that jazz.  My teenager was learning about flight or fight.  She was describing how it's human instinct to run away from danger.  If a building is burning, most people run away to protect themselves, maybe they run to safety and then call 911. 

Disney's Tinkerbell often practice Fight or Flight.

"Are you crazy", I ask.  "Is that what you would do?" 
"Umm, yes, hello, I'm no hero.  I'm human."
"Really?  Is that what most people would do?" 
"Yes!  That's what separates us from the heroes. Natural instinct."
"I'm flipping out here.  What if someone is in the building?"
"You hope someone else saves them.  You call 911."
"No way!  I'm counting my kids. I'm making sure we're all safe, and I'm going back in to save whoever I can. What if there is a helpless animal inside?"
"Hope.  Pray."

No way!  I'm going in.  I did that once.  Well, I tried to.  People wouldn't let me.  A house was burning. I called 911.  I thought they were gone.  I knew they had dogs inside.  I ran to the house. It was only smoking. I looked in the windows.  I tried to open the sliding glass doors.  Only the garage was burning at the time.  The owner of the home was working in the garage.  He got out safely.  He never tried to save the dogs.  I couldn't get anything open.  Bystanders made me stop trying.  By the time the firemen arrived it was too late. They died of smoke inhalation.

I'm not a hero.  As I often say, maybe I'm just insane.

Turns out, I'm not perfect either.  Not even close.

Once, I worked in a restaurant, it was a small part of a larger organization. I helped seat people between checking on my special catered events. 

The restaurant manager had been at the hostess stand with another employee.  A dishwasher.  He should have been in the kitchen. He was a seasonal employee.  In the summer he came from Mexico to work for a few months. I later found out that he had a fake social security card.

After they left the hostess stand, I went to greet some customers.  Looking down, I noticed a tiny baggie of white powder on the floor.  I quickly scooped it up and put it in my pocket.  I didn't want a customer or their child to pick it up.

I seated the guests and went out into the corridor to gather my thoughts.  I leaned over the counter of the security desk and looked at the stream of videos coming from all parts of the grounds. Nothing seemed unusual.  I considered telling the security guard.  I considered asking him to call the police.

We'd had some trouble. The restaurant manager was on rocky ground.  He was on the verge of being fired. I felt like he had something to do with the package.  I asked the security guard if he knew where the PIC (person in charge) was.  "I think he's in his office."

I went to his office and told him a 'what if' scenario.  'He'd call the police.'  I knew I would too, but I didn't feel like I could. I had to work with these people.  I was dating the manager.  Worse than that, I had moved in with him. Where would I sleep?  What would I do?

"How about you call the police since you're the PIC and all?" He gazed at me with a quizzical grin.
"How about you call the police since you're the one who found it and all?"

Anyway, immediately upon moving in with the manager, I'd become aware of my mistake.  It was a dreadful decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life. But I couldn't tell anyone.  What would they think of me?

The truth is, I felt quite certain, said manager had something to do with the drugs.  The PIC agreed.


I went back to the security desk and hung out for awhile. I saw a policeman patrolling the parking lot. I wondered what would happen if he caught me with the drugs in my pocket?  I felt like a criminal.

It's a restaurant, right?  Maybe it's just a packet of low-cal sweetener?

It could be cocaine, crack, crystal meth; I don't know. 

I've never even taken a puff of a cigarette. Once a group of my friends dared me to try 'Skoal Bandits'. I did.  Can you believe that? I can't. But my Dad had once suggested my Aunt purchase tobacco for her abscessed tooth.  It was a home remedy and it worked!  Plus, they were legal at the time, no matter your age.  But, I digress.

What I do know is that my fingerprints are all over the bag.

I decided to ask the manager/boyfriend. I wanted to see how he'd react.

He grabbed it from my hand and looked at it.  "This is heroin!  Where'd you get it?"

I told him the story. 

"You better get rid of it.   The police are outside."

"Why don't you get rid of it for me?"

"Are you crazy?  No way, I'm not going to get caught with that!  My fingerprints are all over it now."

Well... at least he didn't take it and use it.

I didn't want to throw it in the trash.  Someone might dig it out. I told the boyfriend that I was going to flush it.  "Don't do that!  It might not go down. They might trace it back to you.  Take it home and flush it."

So, I decided to do exactly that.  Don't ask me why I thought that was a good idea.  I just don't know what came over me.  I was scared.  I was afraid of losing my job, going to jail, losing my home, my boyfriend, my life...  Just failing in general, I guess.

On the five minute drive home, I became increasingly paranoid. I was terrified I'd be stopped and the police would search the car.  The rain was pelting my windshield.  My heart pounded.  I panicked.

I threw the baggie out the window.

I did. Me, an intelligent, thirty-year-old, goody two-shoes, with nothing to hide.

Immediately I realized my faux pas, more panic.

I wanted to turn around and try to retrieve it.  What if a bird picked it up and ate it?   Or a raccoon?  What if that spot was a bus stop?  What if the kids found it in the morning?  But...

What if I went back, in the dark, in the falling rain and started scrambling on the ground looking for a bag of drugs?  I'd look like an addict! My prints were on the bag. What if a cop came by and found me?

I never went back. I went home.  I stayed with this guy for nearly three more years.  We never discussed the baggie again.

Later, I told my Dad the story.  He had just one question.  "How did the guy know it was heroin?  Who would know that heroin came in a white powder like that?  Who, but a druggie or drug dealer?"

Good question, Dad.  I hadn't thought of that.  So, my instincts were accurate.  The guy had something to do with it.  Why hadn't I turned it in?  I could have saved myself from three, long years of Hell on Earth. Why?

About a year later, after said manager/boyfriend had lost his job and I ended up quitting also, the PIC and I went out to dinner.  "Whatever happened with those drugs you found?"  I told him. I could see the disappointment in his eyes. He'd tried to get me to do the right thing.  Why hadn't I?

I just don't know.  I deeply regret it.  I am not perfect.  I am not a hero.  Apparently, I am not a goody-two shoes either.  If I had it all to do over again, I would take the risk of losing my place to live, my job, and my boyfriend.

Likely, I would have ended up with the other man. Two goody two-shoes together, in the right place at the right time.

I don't know, would I? 

All of those events brought me to my life today. To my beautiful family, (I never thought I'd have) to my life as I now know it- where I can sit on my high-horse and contemplate doing the right thing... next time I get the chance. 

So... How can we blame our kids for impulsive actions when we can't even be sure of ourselves?

Did you read "Hall Pass Thief"?

Lora is a homeschooling mom, writer, creator of Kids Creative Chaos, and Director of the Play Connection.