I broke up a fistfight in Poland. Total international peacekeeper here.


I did.  I broke up a fistfight between two twenty-somethings and the elderly drunk they were beating down. Oh, and, by the way, I did this in Poland.  With my limited Polish.  That’s right.  Take that, you punks!

Before I get to the fistfight, however, I have to bring you back to my teaching days before we ever left for Poland.  I used to teach at a local junior high school, and my first year of teaching was in a classroom full of total tough guys and gals.  I would just say guys, but I had one gal that would literally pick the guys up and physically move them out of her way.

Yes.  There were some days that I questioned why I even got up and entered that lion’s den.  Don’t get me wrong, I was a total hard-bottom in class.  I had to be.  Otherwise, those students would eat me alive.  They probably had forks and spoons in their desks with some condiments on the side for the day that I would crack under pressure, and then they’d pounce like a pack of wild wolves.

But, ha!  I never did crack—-well, in front of them, I never cracked.  I would have to wait until the last one slammed the door, and then my facade would slip away, and I would cry and cry and cry-thankful that I made it through another crazy day.

I am so much tougher than I appear…

One day was super fun (and I state that sarcastically).  One of the guys just released from juvenile detention, by the way, walked into class hitting everyone on his way to his seat.  Literally.  Bam!  Student one hit.  Bam!  Student two hit.  Bam!  Student three hit.  Bam!  Student four hit.  And then he made it to the back of the room where his isolated desk was.  Surprisingly agile, he leaped over it, doing a flip-like somersault, and then he popped right up, sitting himself into his chair and crossing his arms.  It was a total king of the hill moment.  You know, king of the hill, that childhood game we all used to play where you pull people off and try to be the one on the top of the hill?

All of this took place within about 5 seconds.

He was so proud.  All of the students angry.  And I was sighing.  Of course.  Again.  I walk over, pick up the phone and call, “Security, please come and remove xxx from the class.”

And, sure enough, our awesome security guard walked in and pulled him up and escorted him out.  On the way out, student xxx said, “What?  What did I do?”

Looking at him in the eyes, I simply said, “Ummm…well let’s just start with the fact that you can’t hit people.”  And they left.


This brings me to Poland.  For two years we went everywhere by public transportation before we got a car. And, honestly, even after a car, we still used public transportation a ton.  The car was super helpful, though, in picking up our donations for Bread of Life.  For the general travel around town, going to our teaching locations, etc., it was mostly public transportation.

During one of these random tram moments, I was sitting at a very popular tram stop on the West side of the train station, ready to go home after a long day of teaching.

Well, while sitting there these two punk 20-somethings decided to pick on an elderly homeless man.  How did I know he was homeless?  We had been serving homeless for about a year now.  I had gotten very good realizing who would be someone we would serve (I only made a mistake once asking a man that was “very offended” if he wanted some hot tea and a sandwich.  Oops.  I guess my radar was a little out of tune that day, eh?!).

And before any of us at the tram stop knew what was happening, these two punks started beating down this old man.  Literally beating him down.  He was on the ground trying to shield away the blows.

I jumped off of the bench all ready to enter the ring…Okay, I wasn’t looking to enter the fistfight, but there was no way I was going to sit there and watch what was taking place.

Remember that psychology example everyone learns in Psych. 101, called the Bystander effect, where people do or don’t react to someone’s need for help due to 5 characteristics that bystanders go through to determine if they will or will not help?  Anyhow, that popped in my mind and I told myself, “You go, Brooke!  Don’t be a bystander.”

So I hopped off of my bum and started yelling at those 20 somethings.  Yep.  At this age, I am a twenty-something, too, so technically they were my peers.  And I was a scrawny, skinny thing.

But I wasn’t about to be a bystander.  Nope.  By golly, I was gonna break up a fistfight in Poland.  Nostalgic for my AZ teaching days?  Perhaps.

Therefore, I hopped up, started yelling at those punks to leave the man alone.

I startled the thugs so much that they paused long enough for the elderly homeless man to hop up, grab his bag, and scurry across the street.

The thugs.  They didn’t know what to do!  Run after him?  Confront me?  Let it all go?  Stand around, now looking foolish at all of the other waiting passengers?

I think with all eyes on them, me, and the elderly homeless running away, they decided the best thing that they could also do is run away too.  In the opposite direction.

Who knows where they went?  I don’t.  Who knows if they picked a different target?  I don’t.

But I am sure that they’ll always remember that skinny foreigner that broke up their fistfight.

Yep.  Brooke.  International Peacekeeper.  Or, at least, fistfight stopper for one elderly homeless man.  In Poland.

I felt like Rocky Balboa…without throwing a punch!