On Freeload and Almost Getting My Ass Kicked in Downtown Missoula

by lizard

After writing about the Train-Hopping Scabs of Capitalism I felt obligated to actually watch what I was being preemptively critical of.

And I’m glad I did.

Daniel Skaggs and his support crew pulled it off with Freeload. No one can accuse this film of romanticizing the modern hobo lifestyle. And I’m left wondering, what didn’t make the cut from 18 months of traveling?

The film was very well received by tonight’s audience. I stuck around for the question and answer, then left.

On my way back to my car I came close enough to getting my ass kicked that I had to call 911 to get the guy to back off. Seriously.

As I passed Red’s bar some guy asked me if I had a lighter. I said nope, in stride. The dude replied “you don’t have to be a fucking dick about it.”

I should have just ignored him, but I didn’t. That said, I don’t think my response of “Um, I’m not being a dick, I just don’t have a lighter” warranted a sudden confrontation. Before I knew it this guy was in my face, doing the alpha chest-bump. He really wanted to take it beyond verbal, but I wasn’t taking the bait, so he pushed me against the brick wall of the Bodega.

At this point two Bodega girls spilled out. Witnesses. I didn’t escalate his push, so he got more verbally aggressive, yelling inches from my face. I kept my composure best I could. Looking around, I became aware of an older woman and another guy who apparently knew this aggressor, but they weren’t intervening fast enough, so I pulled out my phone and dialed 911. In the chaos of dealing with dispatch I gathered the old woman was mom. She shuffled her drunk son into her car. I knelt down and got the license plate number.

They took off, so with the immediate threat gone, it wasn’t worth pursuing further. That didn’t stop the other guy, the brother, from letting me know what a douche I was for calling the cops. He was at least not drunk and somewhat reasonable, but at that point I wasn’t really interested in familial justification for why I had to go into fight/flight mode.

Downtown Missoula, folks. We’ll try to pass laws to fuck with train kids but let nightly drunkenness go on and on and on, whatevs.


  1. JC

    Wish I could have gotten through the 2′ drifts along my drive, I would have come and seen the film. Wanted to see Occupy the Farm too. So I got to see men in lycra skate round and round in circles instead…

    But I hear you. Walking through the barmuda triangle gauntlet at bar-thirty is always problematic. I’m much more comfortable telling panhandlers I’ve got no pocket change for their daily drunk than I am trying to figure out how to avoid the random accosting by an entitled drunk stumbling out of a bar with god knows what agenda on his “mind”. Glad you made it home safe!

  2. I’m glad you made it out of that situation okay physically. For some people, It can be really difficult to just blow off situations like that. Either in the moment or mentally afterwards.

    For about five years I worked nights downtown in Missoula. I’ve had similar situations happen to me and every single time alcohol was involved.

  3. You handled it well. Not everyone would have escaped with just a scare.

  4. lizard19

    thank you for the comments. I’m glad it didn’t go south, because it could have easily.

    here’s some video footage from a few nights ago of a sign to a business (I think it’s Bob Jaffe’s business) getting destroyed by (I assume) a drunk dude (h/t @Lgpguin)

    • Craig Moore

      Go down to Bob Wards and get one of those pepper spray key ring thingees.

      • Craig Moore

        …and remember that kid’s songs that goes “head, shoulders, knees, and toes…”

        Head butt to his nose, shoulder upper cut to the chin, knee to the groin, and toes to whatever needs kicking after the SOB hits the gound.

        • lizard19

          or I could have stood my ground with a firearm and shot the drunk guy in the face. of course he wasn’t black, so I might actually get time in prison.

          • Craig Moore

            I wouldn’t recommend that unless you were willing to risk everything you own and many years in prison. But that’s just me.

            • lizard19

              in all seriousness Craig, I was pretty satisfied with the outcome. my only regret was letting it get to the point I had to use 911. pepper spray, if I had it and used it, would have only escalated the situation, and then the cops would have been involved.

              putting my own shit aside (the natural inclination to retaliate against someone who threatens harm) there is nothing worse I can do than the damage this dude will do to himself with alcohol. from my brief interaction with the brother, he appears skilled in doing what it takes to protect him from himself.

              my patience with the effects of alcohol on people is nearly non-existent, and it leads me to write sentences I have to erase.

              • Craig Moore

                Of course. You made the right choice. My suggestions were simply that in case you had no way out except to get pummeled. Over 40 year ago at a bar when I was a young man, a drunk walked up to me from behind and from the side and punched me hard below the ear. I didn’t know this person or have any idea why he attacked. Everything went black for a couple of seconds as I wobbled around, then I saw he was coming again. I knew how to fight and I went full raging bull on him and dropped him to the ground. He got up and I dropped him again. Then a friend of his grabbed me from behind as he got up once more to attack again. As he began to launch another blow, I bent forward and swung the guy holding me towards the oncoming punch. Pow! he knocked out his own friend. Then I proceeded to finish the job on the attacker until he didn’t get up again. Sometimes a person has no options. I left before the cops came and arrested the other two. I tell you this because it’s important to think ahead and ask yourself, “Just when will I fight back against an attacker?” If you reach that trigger point of force response, don’t stop until you have neutralized the threat. I didn’t get to use the “kid’s song” but if your back is against a wall and the attacker is inches from your nose, that’s the perfect time to break his nose and follow up.

                Now as to you carrying a firearm, when you are nose-to-nose close to your attacker it’s too late as he will probably use it on you. If 10 feet away, a safer distance to draw your weapon, it is hard to defend yourself in court that you were sufficiently threatened to use deadly force against an attacker that didn’t have a weapon. I don’t recommend concealed carry unless a person is ready to lose all they own defending himself in court and losing their freedom.

  5. Buzz Feedback

    The Missoula Downtown Association is against public drunkenness unless it’s holding a brew fest in Caras Park.

  6. Jeez, come to Jester’s in Helena – they’ll knock your teeth out.

  1. 1 I’ll Tell You What’s “Gateway” to Poor Behavior | 4&20 blackbirds

    […] the drunks – served at downtown bars – who smash up downtown businesses. Not the drunks assaulting innocent pedestrians on their way home from the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival – nope..it’s those darn […]

  2. 2 Drinking in Downtown Missoula: When Enough is Enough… | Reptile Dysfunction

    […] I almost got my ass kicked on a cold February night in downtown Missoula it was because I told a dude outside of Red’s I […]




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