The other day, I was driving home from work and I spotted a guy who didn’t look so good. He was clearly a runner – although he was walking at the time – and he was holding his head and bleeding from his knees. I figured this guy had probably taken a fall. I actually drove by him before my conscience got the best of me and I turned back. Anyhow, I gave him a ride home. He told me about someone in a car harassing him during his run, which caused him to take a spill. Now, this guy was 63 years old. Have people no shame?
I’ve been heckled on numerous occasions. The heckler is usually either a college-age white guy, a middle-age white guy or a high-school-age girl. More often than not, they are in a car. The heckling can involve shouting, name-calling, car swerving or my personal favorite, throwing objects.
There are six ways to react to a heckler:
1. Don’t do anything. Go home. Be miserable.
Unfortunately, sometimes you are stuck with this approach. If you’re on foot and the heckler is in a car, this may be your only option. Also, if you’re alone in a remote area, you may want to play it safe and go with option number one.
2. The staredown.
Personally, I love the staredown. I use the staredown all the time. Were you going to roll that stop sign in front of me? Staredown. Are you texting while driving? Staredown. Picking your nose?! Gross. Staredown.
3. The classic middle finger.
If I’m really focused on my run and don’t want to make a scene, this is my go-to. Usually, I’ll throw in an “asshole” just to make sure they look back and see the finger.
4. The angry middle finger.
I really try to avoid this one. I don’t think it’s an overreaction. However, I do think it’s better to just play it cool.
5. Hulk Smash.
Here’s the thing: If you just directed your two-ton car at me – even if you thought you were being funny and had no intention of hitting me – I didn’t think it was funny. I will hulk smash your car. I will put a dent in it and I’ll take off one of your mirrors if I’m feeling sassy. Seriously, who raised you?
6. The Confrontation
Honestly, I prefer the hulk smash over the confrontation, because usually at the moment, I’m spitting mad. However, I occasionally think the confrontation can change behavior. Who taught you to act like that? Why do you think it’s okay to act like that? Your parents would be ashamed of the way you just acted. Are you tough – do you feel tough right now cowering in your car while I’m yelling at you?
Be careful with the confrontation. Make sure you’re in public and not in a vulnerable situation, because the truth is, people are fucking nuts.
I sympathize for women out there – I know they go through so much worse. So much worse. And so much more often. And it sucks. Just know this: if I ever see you getting heckled out there, I’ve got your back. And I’m going straight to hulk smash.
For another story on hecklers, click here.
How often do you get heckled while running? What does it usually entail?