This is probably the most shameful event in the long list of embarrassing things that I have done or have happened to me!
Some time in 2002, I was out in Finland with a business colleague of mine. We were installing and commissioning some software for a well known Finnish company and left the building at about 6pm to wait for a taxi back to our hotel.
As we left the building, a very large man shouted something unintelligible across the street to us. We shrugged, and the man crossed the street and repeated whatever the hell he was trying to say. We explained that we didn’t speak Finnish and tried to convey to him that we only understood English. As a very large proportion of the population speak English quite well, we assumed there wouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately this didn’t seem to help, in fact the situation began to deteriorate rather rapidly. The big chap started to behave rather oddly. By this stage it was pretty obvious to us that he was drunk, as well as a bit bizarre. I kept my distance, but my colleague, being of a kind and helpful disposition, allowed the big man to approach in order to aide communication, whereupon he was seized round the neck!
Thoroughly alarmed now, I shouted at this Finnish giant to unhand my colleague, making gestures several times to drive home my point. When nothing happened, I took two steps towards them and lauched a kick at the assailant’s voluminous stomach. My foot sank in, my colleague was released and we both managed to escape a short distance away.
It was at that point that we both noticed a very short, white cane that the man was carrying! Another passer-by was hailed and our attacker called across the street to him, extending his cane to help him on his way. Initially, the new target seemed nervous of this man-mountain, but as we watched with a mixture of astonishment, outrage and shame, the two of them eventually came to some understanding and set off into the distance.
Although we’ve laughed about this event since, I shall never be able to shake the guilty feeling caused by the fact that I assaulted a visually impaired person.