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A strange event.

Naked Leader Week – 111 (w/c Monday 4 July 2005)

Please send in your thoughts on this disturbing

and unusual Naked Leader week from Geoff Hinsley.

A strange event.

Yesterday I was cycling along a canal towpath when a young man cycled up beside me, stopped me and asked for a cigarette.

 I said ‘Sorry I don’t smoke’ then he asked for 50p, in a rather aggressive way.  Pretty soon he was demanding to see my mobile phone, and my wallet, on threat of being punched into the canal.  For some inexplicable reason I got into a pseudo-coaching conversation with him, and he calmed down somewhat. 

 Then he started again with demands and more very nasty threats of severe physical violence. I said I’d had enough and rode away but he caught me and he started over for a 3rd time. (My bike chain came off during my ‘escape attempt’, and I wondered then if there was a ‘reason’ I was ‘supposed to be’ in this situation.)

 This time he was really getting out of hand so I gave him all the small change I had, about 45p, and a bottle of water – since previously I’d asked why he wanted money and found he wanted to buy a drink.  That calmed him a little and with other ‘coaching’ I ‘invited’ him to walk with me since I was on a ‘mission’ to find the new Screw-Fix depot a mile away. 

 My rapport building skills were working overtime and I was trying to control my racing heartbeat, at the same time trying to work out what ‘plan B’ might look like.  After a few hundred yards he stopped for a ‘rest’ and started over for round 4, this time patting me down and trying to undo my trouser belt as he (rightly) suspected that my wallet was now down my trousers. He then took my bike clips, and was annoyed that my wallet didn’t pop out, and even more annoyed when I said I must have lost it a way back!  

 He threatened to punch my glasses through my eyes and then I decided I’d had enough and told him so, and walked off leaving him blocking my bike against the wall!  He though I was crazy leaving my bike as it would get nicked!!!!!  We agreed to walk further together.  More coaching conversations.

 Finally we arrived at Screw-Fix where once he was inside and caught on CCTV (rather luck than design) and then didn’t have the part I wanted, I felt very much like a panic attack was coming along – which is not good news, and not surprising since I’d managed for 40 minutes without ‘loosing it’, although it was close.

 He wandered outside. In my by now exhausted state I asked the staff to look after my wallet and phone while I went out – Lord knows what I was thinking-  but I’d built some small ‘trust’ state with the young man.  A couple of staff went and ‘had a word’ with him and insisted I call the police.  It’s taken me 24 hours + to calm down.

 Now, the question.

This kid is obviously a danger to the public and may also have psychological problems.  However, somewhere I sensed a very troubled (‘adults don’t give me no respect’!!), angry and even scared young man who had some potentially good qualities.  (I told him I thought he would make an excellent salesman with some effort and training).  So, where/what/how do kids like this get a chance for some serious change/development work before they get locked up? Do you know?  Is their only choice – prison or the army? 

 Is there anything that would give ‘off the rails’ youngsters a change to grow up and quickly be responsible and contributing members of society?  Any ideas?

 Geoff Hinsley

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Geoff, thank you for sharing this with me, and agreeing to share it with our network. Aside from your question, I am sure everyone sends you their best wishes in putting this behind you, and for having sympathy with, rather than anger at, your assailant. I have always known you as a totally selfless man.




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