Courteous Criminals Preferred

Sept. 20, 2013
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d really far prefer courteous criminals. If they’d simply ASK with a “please” and “thank you” they’d stand a better chance of actually receiving my assistance rather than some bodily harm. Do you agree?

- Dear "panhandling" dude in the convenience store parking lot:
Next time you approach someone to get some money I'd recommend using such terms as, "Please..." or "Can you spare..." You'd probably be more successful than you were with, "Give me your money or I'll hurt you." I am sorry about your jaw, lips, teeth and arm. If none of your teeth fell out by now, they probably won't. I’m sure your lip will heal and given all the colorful metaphors you were shouting as you ran from the parking lot, I'm sure your jaw's not broken. That said, I WOULD get a doctor to look at your right arm; I think there may be something wrong with that shoulder and elbow. I would also like to apologize for my aggressive reaction to your "request" for some money. I had just come in off a really bumpy flight, don't fly well anyway and I swear we bounced three times before finally landing. Still, it's a poor excuse for my, um, unconventional response to your "request" for some money.
P.S. - I left your water gun in the trash can next to pump two. If they haven't taken out the trash it might still be there. -

Yes, I’m a smart ass. That’s the post I put on my personal Facebook page not long ago, the morning after returning from some travel. It HAD been an ugly flight but I realized, after my ride home from the airport, that my biggest challenge with my day and evening was the adrenaline dump. I’m sure most of you are all too familiar with the adrenaline dump. It’s what happens when you find yourself faced with a sudden threat and you have to react to it in a compressed time frame. After the fact you get the shakes and you can’t figure out why. It’s your body trying to burn off all the adrenaline and other chemicals that were dumped into your bloodstream by your brain and glands to prepare you to deal with that immediate threat.

For me, after the experience I so hilariously reference above, I realized that the adrenaline dump occurred in the moment that I perceived a threat. After the fact, as is obvious, the “threat” wasn’t much of one. I almost felt insulted when I realized I was holding a painted black toy water pistol that the guy had tried to use to rob me. The experience also made me think back across the past 25 years (about). This marks three times someone has targeted me as a victim of an attempted robbery.

The first one was in the late ‘80s when I was a pretty young cop. The idiot tried to rob me with an empty revolver. I wasn’t as familiar then with the sensation of the adrenaline dump back then and was worried about why I was shaking after the fact. The guy actually put the gun right up in my face. My reaction back then was very different from what it is now all these years later. I didn’t immediately snatch it but some part of my brain realized there was something wrong with what I was seeing. It took me about an eighth of a second to realize that there were no bullets in the charging holes of the cylinder of the gun pointed at me. Hammer was down. He could pull the trigger at least four times (it was a five shot revolver) and it would go CLICK each time. Needless to say, he didn’t get what he was after. I remember, as thankful as I was that he was stupid, feeling mildly insulted because he’d tried to rob me with an unloaded gun. I mean, REALLY?

Some years later a VERY drunk man tried to rob me at knife point. It was momentarily of concern because yes, even a drunk guy with a knife can cut and kill you. In that incident the guy was so drunk he could barely hold the knife up and I quickly became worried that he’d fall on his own blade. Not that such an event would have greatly impacted my world but, being the cold blooded bastard that I can be, I really didn’t want to lose that much time in my evening dealing with all the investigative procedure that would follow. Thankfully he gave up the knife quite easily (and with far less bodily damage than the guy who “surrendered” his water pistol).

After each event, being human, I experienced a plethora of feelings and outlooks. Part of me was insulted that each of these people considered me a potential target. Honestly I never thought I looked that unaware or soft. Further consideration made me realize the possibility that, at least in the first and last (so far) incident, I was probably just the guy who happened to walk into the circumstances they were looking for. In the second incident the guy was just probably so drunk it could have been in the middle of a crowded mall and he’d have still made his attempt.

Then there was the part of me that was angered/frustrated by the fact that I had to experience the adrenaline and burn-off aftermath each time and not once was there a serious threat. While it’s true I didn’t know that until after I had successfully defended myself each time, it still irked me that I had to go through the let down because the criminals (stupid as they can be) had the audacity to attempt to rob me and didn’t have the sense or decency to use a true threat.

Then, when I’ve calmed down and taken a look back through more rational eyes, I’ve come to one conclusion: I wish each of them had simply ASKED me for some help rather than trying to make me the victim of an armed robbery. My father taught me to be charitable to the extent that it won’t harm my family. If any one of those idiots had asked me for a few dollars or some spare change or even just help in purchasing some food, I’d have said yes. Instead, they chose to commit a criminal act and, in selecting me as their victim, put me in the position of reacting defensively. As I’ve aged and gained more experience my defensive reaction has become more aggressive. I certainly hope there’s never a fourth attempt.

That all said I’ve come to the conclusion that I’d really far prefer courteous criminals. If they’d simply ASK with a “please” and “thank you” they’d stand a better chance of actually receiving my assistance rather than some bodily harm. Do you agree?

About the Author

Lt. Frank Borelli (ret), Editorial Director | Editorial Director

Lt. Frank Borelli is the Editorial Director for the Officer Media Group. Frank brings 20+ years of writing and editing experience in addition to 40 years of law enforcement operations, administration and training experience to the team.

Frank has had numerous books published which are available on,, and other major retail outlets.

If you have any comments or questions, you can contact him via email at [email protected].

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