While reading Rosalynde’s excellent review at Dialogue of Craig Harline’s (also) excellent Way Below the Angels, for some reason my mind turned to an experience from my own mission when I got into a fight with my companion.
I’m a very easy going, laid back kind of guy. Yes, living with another dude 24/7 en mish was no picnic, but for the most part I was able to get along with pretty much everyone. The one significant exception I recall happened sometime in the year 1978 somewhere in Colorado.
One night Elder Smith (not his real name) and I were out on splits with the local seventies. (Yes, when I was a missionary stake seventies were still a thing.) That evening I did two things that really set Elder Smith off. First, my seventy and I didn’t get back to the missionary apartment until 10:30 p.m. That’s a pretty serious breach of split off etiquette. I honestly don’t remember the circumstances that led to our late return (we definitely had a reason), but Elder Smith was (understandably) righteously pissed about it. And as I think back on it, he had every right to be; there’s nothing worse than cooling your heels in your spartan missionary apartment with some local guy from the ward who desperately wants to go home already but can’t leave you alone until his companion comes back.
The other thing that happened was that I had passed off a family we had recently contacted to the seventies to work with. In my own defense, I was right to do so, as this family clearly wasn’t going anywhere, but Elder Smith didn’t appreciate my passing off one of our contacts, and not experiencing what I had with the family (including some intensely creepy glossolalia!) he had no reason to be understanding of my decision.
So when our regular member compatriots left, it hit the fan, as they say. Elder Smith started yelling at me. I yelled back at him. He came at me and took a swing. I dodged the punch and gave him a hard shove. He stumbled backwards and stepped on his alarm clock (on the floor near his bad) and smashed it. Something about breaking his alarm clock snapped him out of it, and the (mini) fight stopped. He called some other elders in the area and we split with them over night. After that he calmed down and the next day we got back to normal.
I wonder how common it is to have heated arguments like this between companions (whether or not they escalate to actual physicality)? I honestly don’t have a good sense of the answer. What do you think? What experiences do you have along these lines? Are there techniques we should be teaching our young elders and sisters to minimize the chances of such heated experiences?
 My freshman year at BYU I had been involved in the Karate Club. Not that a year of experience is that much, but I was very accustomed to standing across from a guy trying to attack me, so it didn’t freak me out when Elder Smith took a shot at me. Just having been in that kind of setting many, many times kept me calm about it all.
 We actually got on quite well; this altercation was out of character for us.