A couple of months ago, my housemate Sophie and I were heading down to our local Morrison’s (this isn’t part of the story, but I just want to say that Morrison’s is a pretty great supermarket) and it was fairly late in the day. It was the end of summer, so it still stayed light pretty late, but it was already dark.

As we approached the entrance, a gang of young teenagers started yelling nonsense at the pair of us. To be honest, I didn’t really even register that the shouts were directed at us – I just thought they were making mindless youthful noises, but as it turns out, they were shouting ‘shorty’ at Sophie who, depending on what you classify as tall and what you classify as short, could possibly be described as short.

After picking up some delicious items of food for sale, it was time to head home. Our antagonists for the evening were still circling around on their bikes and the ringleader in the anti-social circus started shouting ‘shorty’ once again.

“You’re about twelve,” said Sophie. “I don’t care what you say.”

“I’m not twelve,” he protested.

“Yes, Sophie,” I interjected, “he’s obviously not twelve. You can tell he’s only seven.”

And we kept on our way. However, for some reason, this young child continue to shout words at us.

“If you have a problem with me,” said Sophie, “come and say it to my face – don’t just shout from a distance.”

I admired her resilience. As we came around the corner, so did the teenager – evidently he had decided to take up Sophie’s offer to come and say his nonsense to her face.

He rolled up on his bike and Sophie grabbed hold of the handle. “Do you have a problem with me?” she asked.

Now that the space between them was very limited and she had laid hands on his bike, his confident demeanor left him instantly

“You can’t hit me,” he kept repeating. “Don’t touch me. I’m just a kid.”

He stammered incoherently for a while, so I thought that it would be a good idea to play the good cop to Sophie’s bad.

“As an impartial passer-by,” I said, “might I interject? Nobody’s going to get hit today.”

He looked up at me with vacant, uncomprehending eyes.

“I don’t think it was very nice of you to shout things at my friend,” I said. “Also, have you considered that what you said was very ironic? You called her ‘shorty’ while you yourself are the very same height.”

“Nah, nah, nah,” he said. “I’m just a kid. You can’t touch me.”

Clearly, Sophie’s assertive response to him and rendered him completely senseless. A few moments later he was speeding away in the opposite direction on his bike.

I’m sure he thought twice before the next time he shouted abuse at a random stranger. Our work was done. We made a good vigilante team of good cop, bad coppers and I look forward to conforming many more villains and delinquents in the future.

Who knows? Maybe the next person he would have called ‘shorty’ (if not for us) would have been a drug baron who then riddled his small body with bullets from his tommy gun. A tragedy. We may have saved his life. I am sure once he receives his PhD in pediatrics in fifteen years time, he’ll wait outside Morrison’s to give us his thanks.

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