I just got off a call with a friend who was mugged in Georgetown while she was crossing M Street. Even though it’s been a while since this happened to her, she still lives in fear — not wanting to go out at night. I could totally relate, and told her about an experience that happened to me back in 2007, and want to tell my readers the story.
I was leaving my gym around 7 or 8pm in the fall, so it was dark. Fortunately, I’m a bit paranoid and always get my keys out BEFORE stepping outdoors. I walked to my car in the parking lot and noticed a gray van running, but with the lights off, which struck me as suspicious. Fortunately, I wasn’t still listening to my iPod. Fortunately, I wasn’t talking on my cell phone. I was aware of my surroundings. I opened my car door. Fortunately for me, it was a Toyota which only unlocks the driver’s side door. As I was getting in my car and starting it, the van crosses a parking lane, and moves into the spot in front of my car so that our cars are bumper-to-bumper. A Latino man jumps out and runs to the drivers side door trying to get my car door open. Fortunately, again being paranoid I always lock my car doors immediately upon entering. I must have backed my car up at like 30 miles an hour, and would have hit poor granny with her grocery cart, or a pedestrian as I had no time to look behind me. I didn’t know if the man was going to pull a gun on me, and I wasn’t going to sit around and find out.
As I look back on this night, I realize how every decision, and every second can count. You must be aware of your surroundings and take what some may consider to be paranoid precautions because there may be a time when it actually matters. Many of us ladies want to have someone on the phone with us as we’re walking to our car at night — don’t be fooled into thinking having someone on the other end will keep you safe. That person is on the phone and can’t help you — ask Dru Sjodin about that. She was attacked in a mall parking lot while on the phone with her boyfriend, who could do little to protect her. Perhaps had she not been distracted by the phone conversation she would have noticed the man who grabbed her.
I had a friend tell me I was paranoid, and that maybe the man just wanted to ask me a question. I found that very naive. Don’t worry about being “too paranoid” or not wanting to be rude to a stranger. If you need to cross to the other side of the street, or make another sort of obvious signal to a stranger that you don’t trust her or him or that you feel uncomfortable, don’t worry about it. Trust your gut.
I just want to remind everyone to take precautions, and to be vigilant, especially younger women who still feel like they are invincible. Make changes in your life and they will become a habit that will save the day for you when it matters like: forcing yourself to have your keys ready so you aren’t digging in your purse for them, staying off the phone and iPod while walking at night, and locking your car door immediately once you’re inside. Ladies, be especially careful when you’re out drinking, because you won’t be as aware. Don’t try to be tough — accept a friend’s walk to your car, or to your door. This can happen anywhere — not just “bad neighborhoods”. Remember that although you are just going through your daily events, there are men who sit and wait for the right opportunity. They don’t care who they grab, or hurt — it’s all about being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t give them the opportunity they want. And if someone holds a gun to you and asks you to drive or get out of your car, don’t. You are much more likely to be killed at the second setting. Let them shoot you where they find you, where there will be more people around. I know this isn’t a light and happy post, but we all need to be reminded of these things and to never let down our guard.
- Miss A