He went to work part time in a shoe store. There was this guy who was bigger in size working in the store with him together with a few others. He didn't take too much notice of him at first, as he didn't quite like the way the guy swaggered, talked a little too much and too loudly. So he kept a tolerable distance from him. He kept to his work and twice a week in the evenings he would routinely attend karate class.
His dad's advice had been straight-forward: Work hard and stay out of trouble.
But life has a way of spitting in your face just to test your patience. He knew that bragging about anything just wasn't profitable but like most teenagers he loved to discuss what he did in his spare time with his colleagues. Word got around. Big guy with the big mouth heard of his regular pastime.
"So I hear you're the chop-chop kid, huh? Wow… Let's see what you can do with bricks. Chop-chop!".
Big guy came up with some discarded bricks and stacked up a few in the store's backyard where the guys sometimes hanged out during their breaks. He ignored him and went back into the store. Stay out of trouble.
Big guy followed him in and said, "Hey, what's the problem? Hands too soft or what? Sissy's shouldn't learn how to fight!" He looked at him and said, "Look, I don't think I need to show you what I can do with my hands. No point chopping bricks. Doesn't prove anything."
But Big guy didn't want to give up just yet. Every now and then he would make some taunting remarks. He had this notion that with his size it was enough for him to push little guys around. And nobody's going to push back. Not even karate kids.
He kept reminding himself of his dad's words: Stay out of trouble, stay out of trouble, stay out of trouble ….
The pressure eventually began to build up. His nerves and senses got more and more tensed day by day. Every word, every gesture the big guy made rang louder and more obtrusive each time.
He was up in the store-room getting a pair of shoes for a customer. Big guy came up later and was rummaging around looking for something. And the remark came rather casually, as if two old friends were discussing the weather.
"Why does a chicken learn karate?"
There was an exchange of words, loud and harsh, back and forth. Big guy lunged at him with a fist. He dropped the shoes he had in his hands. By the time he had done with him, there were shoes and shelves all about the room like a cyclone tore through it. Big guy had a badly mauled up face and he couldn't see where he was going. His size didn't help him after all.
For a whole week he couldn't sleep peacefully. It was pretty easy to whack the daylights out of someone. The bigger the size the larger the target. But he worried about what the other guy would do next time they meet. He feared for his safety in case the guy were to hit back at him unawares. He wished he had been more patient. He learnt that solving a problem with violence seemed to create more problems. He stopped going to work.
That was until the day the big guy showed up at his front door with his head still in bandages, a solemn smile on his face and offered his hand.