Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I blinked

Last night about 9:30, I went to the garage to get my wife’s backpack out of her car for her.

It was a toss-up as to who would do it, but I could find my shoes, so I went.

As I was walking back, I noticed two young men crossing the street we live on. They looked out of context.

At first, I felt ashamed for profiling.

Then as I was walking up the steps, one of them comes to the gate and says in a commanding voice to me, “Hey, you got a cigarette?”

Odd, I thought, and just said “No” over my shoulder to him.

He then asks, “Are you sure?”

Alarm bells went off somewhere inside me. I then heard him attempt to open the gate, and I turned around to glare at him. I was about to walk back toward him and tell him to get the hell out of here when he walked off.

I came in the house and called the police. They were here in minutes and I told them the story.

About 15 minutes later, the officer called back and asked if I would meet him downstairs because there had been an incident.

I went back down apprehensively. The officer told me these two had just robbed a man at gunpoint about 5 blocks away. Similar circumstances. The guy had just parked his car and was getting some things out of the trunk when these two miscreants walked up behind him and robbed him. (As of this writing, these jerks are still on the loose.)

Thankfully, the guy wasn’t physically harmed. But he lost some possessions, and his safety bubble. Come to think of it, my bubble is gone too.

And that’s a good thing.

What safety bubble? There never was one. We get lulled into thinking we live in a nice neighborhood and these sorts of things don’t happen here. Well, they do.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Blink”. It is about our innate, instantaneous judgments. Sometimes these judgments are right and sometimes they are wrong.

This time, mine were correct. It saved me some real trouble.

My wife is a consumer research expert. She loves to observe people and figure out what makes them tick. Her dream job is to be a criminal profiler. Like Jodie Foster in “Silence of the Lambs”. (I’m hoping one day to see her file on me.)

She just bought a book called “The Gift of Fear”. It is a book that can save your life. It encourages you to use your natural fears. Highly recommended reading.

The moral of the story is realize that your best protection isn’t the police, an alarm system, mace or a gun. It is your instinct. Don’t be afraid to use it.

And, don’t let anyone bum a cigarette. Except me.

1 comment:

  1. holy crap. glad you are safe pops. my instincts told me not to step outside this morning b/c of the unsafe weather conditions. now i am sitting here in my coffee drenched leggings smelling very similarly to the inside of an airplane. i should have used my better judgement and just stayed home... :) love you!