When it comes to physical safety, I am typically a very cautious person.
At night, when walking by myself, I carry mace. But I also sport my mace in daylight – even when walking into the store in a crowded area. (Yeah, I’m weird.)
Whether I’m walking into or out of a place in the dark, I typically keep my mace in the unlocked position, and my finger is ready to press the “trigger” (though I’ve never actually had to do this).
At night, I get into my car as quickly as possible. I load the groceries hurriedly, hop in the driver’s seat, and immediately shut the door and lock it. I sort of make a game out of seeing how fast I can do this.
During dark hours, if I am walking outside alone, I attempt to maintain a very alert, don’t-mess-with-me kind of look. I make it very clear that I am watching the area behind me, to my sides, and in front of me. I walk quickly and intentionally.
It seems that when I carry this demeanor, some people look a bit freaked out, and probably think either that I’m demented/psycho or possibly some sort of incognito officer. Probably the former.😜 I’d rather seem a little crazy/scary at night if that buys me safety, but I probably overdo it…. Once I’m inside a place, I typically resume my natural countenance and smile more. 🙂
It may surprise you, then, to know that a few months ago, I was driving by my bank’s ATM during dark hours. Dumb, I know. But I had done it “successfully” or uneventfully many times.
Somehow, when you’ve never had a particular thing happen to you, you can begin to consider yourself impervious to that thing. You are invincible. The people who warn and caution you seem a little paranoid. The horror stories you hear about are certainly the exception, not the norm. What’s wrong with stopping by the ATM at night, if you’re watchful and careful?
Well, this particular night, being watchful and careful paid off.
Mid-transaction, a man clad in street clothing appeared around the corner of the bank (ahead and to my left). He was only a few feet away, and approaching quickly.
My mental alarm bells went off immediately. Leaving my transaction in process, I drove forward.
For some reason, I wasn’t able to think clearly enough in that frightening moment to roll up my window – to zero-in on the control button and push it in the correct direction.
The man was evidently apprehensive and uneasy as I glared at him. I drove forward – rather than staying where I was and looking scared or defensive – to show him that I was not afraid. (He was still standing on the landscaped portion, so he wasn’t on the pavement where I was driving.) I stopped when we were close enough to talk.
“I…I…was just going to check to make sure it’s working…” he “explained” nervously.
“IT’S WORKING,” I assured him, holding my disapproving expression and authoritative tone, to indicate that I was onto his game and not convinced of his professed intentions.
Thankfully, this was enough to send the man in the other direction. (He probably assumed that since I pulled forward, I was finished with my transaction anyway.)
When he was distant enough, I pulled back a few feet to finish the transaction. Thankfully, the card hadn’t been eaten by the ATM yet.
I retrieved my card and left the area as quickly as possible.
Driving home afterwards, I was still in survival/fight/high-adrenaline mode. Just sort of in shock, and thanking God that nothing worse had come of the situation.
I definitely took something home from that experience. As far as I can remember, I haven’t been to the ATM while it’s dark since that time.
It’s easy to bank on getting away with things that other people don’t (no pun intended). Things like…
Driving to work or school every day on only four hours of sleep.
Drinking that one extra drink – to the point of becoming just a bit tipsy – then driving home.
Eating that extra bag of corn or potato chips (fried in genetically-modified soy or cottonseed oil). (If you’re interested in learning more about the dangers of GM foods, I highly recommend watching the film, Genetic Roulette – The Gamble of Our Lives.)
Walking alone at night without mace, a buddy, or some form of self-defense. Perhaps with the mentality of, “I’m a strong man/woman. My arms will protect me.”
Or visiting the ATM while it’s dark.
Maybe, like me, you think that you’ll never be a part of the statistics.
But probability, chance, and entropy catch up with us sooner or later.
“It is hard to be defensive toward a danger which you have never imagined existed.” ― John Christopher
If we play with fire enough, eventually, we’re going to get burned.
I am not writing this to say that we should live in fear, or never take risks. But if you need cash from the ATM – or need to transfer money to checking – ask yourself, “Can it wait till the morning?”
If it can’t wait, see if you can find a family member or friend to accompany you. Or go online and transfer just the needed amount from savings to checking, with the determination to add that amount back to savings as soon as possible.
If you really have no other option – and it cannot wait – hold your mace in your hand while you perform your transaction (if mace is legal in your area. If not, have another legal form of self-defense available to you). Pull your vehicle up very close to the ATM machine, so there’s little room for another body to squeeze into that space.
I should add, however, that you don’t ever want to use your mace or another weapon on someone who is attacking your property. Only on someone who is attacking YOU. In a self-defense class I took a few years ago, I learned that you could get in trouble for using a weapon just to protect your STUFF.
Cards can be cancelled and new ones can be issued. Your bank can usually help you sort out the mess. But physical damage to a human being? Often, that is something that cannot be undone.
I recommend keeping mace with you (in a visible spot) mainly as a deterrent, and in the event that your person should be assaulted.
Visibility of other forms of self-defense may or may not be permitted. Check into your local laws.
Your eyes are your best preemptive and proactive weapons.
Keep an eye on your surroundings…behind and in front of you.
Be safe, my friends! ❤
© 2017 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved