Back in 2008 I was working as security contractor in Iraq for the US Army. I was in charge of base security at a FOB (Forward Operating Base) on the outskirts of Baghdad. There was a commotion outside the fence that our towers and cameras couldn’t see. I linked up with some Soldiers going to investigate. The local police had been recruiting next door and a large crowd had gathered. Where there was a crowd the merchants would come. By the time we had realized there was anything going on there was a flea market and hundreds of people there.
I quickly paired up with one of the competent Sergeants. There was so many people that we almost had to push them off of us to keep space. We left as soon as we could and then used diplomatic channels to get the Police to do recruiting on the other side of the base.
We got back just in time for lunch and I stripped my body armor and went to chow. There was always a line on the base because the food was actually good. I was on duty 24/7 so I always had a pistol and a radio on my belt. I was standing in line talking to one soldier and another soldier behind me bumped into my gun. I pushed him off and spun around going for my gun before my conscious mind caught up. The soldier backed up and made a snide comment about my paranoia, which I deserved.
I hadn’t made that mental shift from one situation to the next. This may be the hardest thing for you to do if you are ever in a self defense situation. You must go from you, to physically beating a criminal, to having to deal with other people and cops.
When I was overseas it worked for me to stop and think about what had happened and then think about where I was going and what I had to do next. I had to go from running missions outside the wire, to investigating shootings at the towers, to briefing the Colonel in command of the base. Even though the Colonel was an SF (Special Forces) guy, I still couldn’t go into his office ready for battle. So I stopped and mentally thought about even the simplest of tasks, like going for lunch.
When I turned on that poor soldier I felt horrible, but there was no harm done. I tried an apology, but it was lame. I should have stopped, and thought about where I was going and what I was doing before going into the chow hall. Sounds dumb, but it works. Try it next time you have something crazy happen.