Being aware and staying safe, part one

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Just before Thanksgiving, I narrowly missed becoming a crime statistic right here in Picayune. It wasn’t until the next day that I realized the gravity of what had happened.

I had gone to the local pharmacy to get some antacids. It was near dusk and I wasn’t feeling too well, so I was concentrating only on getting there, getting what I needed, and getting home.

But when I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed something that seemed off: a car parked strangely (backed into a parking space closest to the store) with a couple of young adults inside.

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The engine was running, the doors were open, but there was no loud music, they weren’t messing with their cell phones, and they seemed very jumpy.

Honestly, I wasn’t really paying a whole lot of attention; this observation and assessment was just a matter of a couple of seconds. But something about them made me feel uncomfortable.

So I was careful not to park next to them and I made sure they knew that I saw them by looking straight at them as I set the alarm on my car (which beeps rather loudly when I do). Then I went into the store and didn’t think anymore about it.

It was actually as I came out of the store that I could have been in danger. I suddenly had the feeling that someone was too close to me…..and there was.

I turned around to see that there was a young woman directly behind me with her right hand stretched out toward my purse. She was so close, in fact, that she had to back up when I turned. I said nothing but looked her right in the eye.

She hurried away and got into the car with the two jumpy people, and they roared off out of the parking lot as quickly as they could.

All three of those people (two women, one man) were acting nervous and suspicious. It seems fair to assume that they were up to something. Before you make any assessments about my judgment, let me say two things. I am of the same race as those young people, so this is not about anything like profiling or discrimination. Two, I have been the victim of purse snatching before.

It’s the second point that is important. When you have experienced a crime, it should serve to make you more aware; it should encourage you to learn small ways in which you can protect yourself. That is what it did for me.

See part two in next week’s Item.

By Sidney Walker