My family is sitting in a McDonald’s on a late Friday evening. My wife and son have gotten their drinks and made their way to a table, and I follow shortly after them with our food. We are not in a “bad” area of town. It is not in the small hours of the morning. We aren’t sitting in a waffle house. Still something has made my wife’s radar go up, and she is very keen on keeping a close eye on the environment.
As usual my wife and I have both sat facing each other, with our son next me this time. We aren’t sitting across from each other so that we can look at each other when we talk. We are sitting across from each other so that we can each keep an eye on one of the access doors. What has made my wife a little uncomfortable is a man several booths away, having a conversation with an imaginary friend. Talking to himself is one thing, but when he put his arm around his imaginary compatriot, it is obvious that this individual does not have all of his faculties about him. Whether this was a psychological issue or chemically induced is not readily apparent. There is a red bag next to him, a back pack I think. My wife’s attention passes seemingly casually between him, other customers, and the door. Only seemingly, she is acutely aware of everyone in the fast food restaurant, and where they are, and she is watching that red bag. We don’t linger after we eat, and we aren’t taking our time.
My son is about to graduate from high school, and is still learning from us about observing his environment. We explain to him the signs that my wife is watching for, and that if that bag is left unattended, we will depart the premises without hesitation. He asks why and we explain to him that if something were to go wrong, we don’t want to be present when it happens. With the way the individual in question is acting, there is a potential for that bag to be filled with all kinds of unpleasantness. Most of the time a person like that is not an immediate threat. There could very well be some untreated psychological issue at play. It could also be a distraction. A ploy used to encourage people to not pay too close attention. Never discount strange behavior from someone, even if it is seemingly innocent. We explain all of this to our son and our reasoning.
We have been introducing my son to “required watching” movies, including Risky Business, Sixteen Candles, and so on. My son commented about a line from one of those movies;
“The only winning move is not to play.”
The quote comes from the movie War Games, and my son was absolutely correct. When it comes to self defense the best option is to simply not be there when shit goes sideways. Being aware and alert to your surroundings will let you see things that are out of place, or not quite right. The absolute best self defense strategy is to be somewhere else.