I love canes/walking sticks. I've made no bones about it in past posts, and consider a knife a poor third rate weapon at best for self defense. Yesterday morning I changed my mind. I got up early to get my oil changed in my car by a buddy who has his own shop. Supposed to get there abut 9:30ish, so I left the house early so I'd have time to go by Panera Bread for a bagal and coffee. No probelmo. I go in and get my breakfast and go sit down by a little table at the front window, just have taken my first bite of a nice everthing bagal with cream cheese, when the kid comes up to me. I'd seen her with her mother in back of me in line, but gave them no thought. Little blond haired girl about 10ish. She looks at me and yells 'Moooove!" I'm taken a bit aback, so I look at her and ask "I beg your pardon?" The mother comes up with a tray of stuff and tells me she's sorry, but they always sit at that table because it's by a window and her daughter likes to look out while they eat. She's nice about it, but no appology or exuse me. Just the explaination and she stands there expecting me to move. I finnish chewing the bite of bagal and tell her that I'M sorry, but I'm sitting here at present and eating MY breakfast, and maybe this would be a good time for her overindulged offspring to learn some manners. She gets huffy with me telling me since we're all supposed to be grownups here, what would it be such a big deal for me to just move to another table. I sit there and look at her, not even believing what I'm hearing. This spoiled yuppy female offspring of a dog is demanding I move to accomodate her spoiled brat of a daughter. I of course refuse and tell her to just go away. The little girl tells her dear mommy to make me move, but the mommy tells her she can't, and will have to have daddy handle this. I'm on my second mouthful of bagal, and I catch this. She sits down at another table and they start eating, and mommy breaks out her cell phone and makes a call. Talks quietly for a moment, smiles and hangs up. Now I'm 69 years old this month, and I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. I gather she's called 'daddy' whoever that is, and she's sitting there with this cheshire cat smile that makes me a bit mad. I didn't have long to wait. I knew it was daddy when he pulled into the parking lot. Had to be. Huge shiney black Ford Expedtion with jacked up suspension, big macho tires that will never see off pavement use in suburban Maryland. Big black steel grill guard and light guards, roof bar with half a dozen off road lights mounted. Pulls right up in the fire lane outside the front door and parks illeagally, and a big guy gets out. No, that's not really right. A big guy would be a double for Attila the hun. This guy looks like the real Conan The Barbarian like Arnold wish he was. At least 6' 4", and close to 300 pounds if he was a pound. Stands there in a warm up outfit and peels off the jacket so he's showing off the bulging biceps and deltoids. I admit at this point I should have just run for the door at the opposite end of the eatery, but with a bum wheel under me I don't run so good. I look at my cane, and I realize it's a joke in this one instance. I'm all of 5' 9" and 160 pounds, and if I try to use a cane on this guy, he's gonna stick it where the sun never shines, before he beats me to death. As he comes in the front door with that mussel bound arms out to the sides strut, I take out my Opinel, and hold it in my hand down by my plate semi-out of sight. At this point I'm going a gut instinct here. This guy is coming like he means a good rough up business, and I'm not going to play that game. Like I said, not really thinking abut it, just going on gut level guessing second by second. He see's his wifey and spoiled brat of a kid and goes over to them. Kid yells and points at me "Thats the man who wouldn't move daddy!" Daddy the barbarian looks at his wife and she tells him I insulted them in addition to not moving out of thier way, and he starts in my direction with that strut. By this time people are staring, and there's an audiance, but mussles the brainless dosen't seen to notice or care as he starts towards me and actually says loud enough for witnesses to later tell police, "You're in for a good --- kicking now you grey bearded old ----!" I admit I'm scared. Like I said, this guy is a huge gym body builder type, and I just know with my cane I stand no chance at all. I open my Opinel and hold it close to my right side as I stand up, wondering if I can hurt him enough to stop him before he kills me. Then a weird thing happens. He stops dead in his tracks. He's looking at the knife with kind a waryness. Not scared, but wary, and he stays out of range of me. He tries giving me a hard stare, but I'm staying where I am in the corner by my table and the wall. Right then I liked a corner. Then he says the most stupid and insane thing I ever heard a grown man say. He tells me to "Put that knife down and fight like a man!" I stare at him in amazement. Me; kind of skinny 160 pound 5 foot 9 guy, him massive 6' 4 or so 275 to 300 pound guy, and he's talking fair fight after telling me I'm gonna get a --- kickiing? I just want to eat my bagal and go get my Toyota's oil changed, and now I'm in a stare off with this guy who looks like he can tear me in two like a phone book. I tried to reason with him. I tell him "What you think is going to happen here isn't. I'm not going to let you beat me up to prove to your wife and kid how tough you are. What is going to happen here is if you assault me, I'm going to spread your guts all over this floor. You'll get me, but you're going to die doing it." He still stares at me, and I can't tell if he's impressed at all with my little speach, and I see that he really doesn't know what to do. He doesn't want to back down, but he's not willing to risk the knife. Then I hear the police sirens coming closer and he backs off trying to look nonchalant, and he tells his wife he'd better go. Cops pull up in front, and he kind of tries to look casual sitting down by his wife and kid, I put the Opinel down on the table and step away from it. . The manager and some other people start telling the cops what happened and they take me aside and talk to me, while interviewing others. Takes about 45 minutes, but the police sort it out, while he's saying I pulled a knife on him and trying to turn it around. Didn't work, too many witnesses too close and saw and heard everything. Got even better when the cops check out my VA hospital ID and see I'm a 50% disabled vet. Cop looks at my knife and tells me to put it back in my pocket. Big guy askes why they let me get away with having a knife. By this time things are not going to good for daddy the barbarian, and while all this was going on, another cop outside puts a 250 dollar ticket on his truck for parking in a fire lane. Big guy goes on a yelling spree. Yells they can't ticket his truck, they can't let me go after I pulled a knife, this and that. Finally three of the biggest cops sort of suround him and one cop puts a finger in his face and yells back. Tells him not to tell him what they can't do, and has he ever heard of disparity of force in self defense, and how he'd been attempting to assault a disabled vetern, and then they cuff him and arrest him. Takes 4 cops to cuff him and they go to the floor doing it, but they did it. That's when one cop told him he's going to pay 250 dollars for the fire lane parking spot. Wifey and brat staring in shock, but quiet as mice. As they put him a cruiser and take him away, I finally get to finish my bagal. Cops tell me I'll be notified of the court date. Whole thing ended anti-climatic. Looking back on it, I know certain as the sun's gonna rise in the east tomarow morning, if i'd tried to defend myself with a stick, he'd have taken me apart. But when I came up with a knife, he stopped in his tracks. I don't know if 1. He was smarter than he looked, or 2. He'd seen somebody sliced up before and knew what a sharp knife could do to soft tissue. Certainly I used no excalliber, just a wood handle Opinel number 8. But he didn't like having to deal with it. I now know what they mean by a layered defense. I'm not going to make that mistake again, and discount a knife so quick. From now on I will carry a knife for just in case a cane won't work. But the one thing that has been going through my mind in the last 24 hours thinking about it, has been how the sight of a knife in my hand stopped this huge guy cold. The knife had a whole differnt effect than a walking stick/cane would have had. Big as he was, he didn't want any part of it. Something to think about.