I realize I haven’t posted that story yet. Not that it’s very interesting, but informative in a way of telling what not to do.. I made a few mistakes that could have been costly, in money and personal safety. It happened a few months ago…
I had a craving for ice cream that night, rode my bicycle to Walgreens. I didn’t have a lock for my bike but oh well, I was only going to be inside for a couple minutes.. There was a guy near the entrance who was just standing there. A little red flag popped in my mind but I told myself he was just waiting for someone inside the store. Mistake number one: Not listening to my intuition. This is doubly bad because I always advocate doing so when teaching or talking about self-defense. It took me only seconds to grab the ice cream and head for the cashier, from which I could see my bike outside… And the guy jumping on it! I ran out, ice cream in hand without paying! The thief was getting away, not looking back over his shoulder (his big mistake). I could have thrown the ice cream at him but I love ice cream too much to even think about that..
I started running. I hate running, never been good at it and with the metal rod inside my femur, I can’t run for very long before those screws start biting. The thief went around the store, picking up speed. As I thought my expensive bike was lost he turned into a group of apartments right behind the store! I saw him get into a door with my bike. Again, the fool did not look back. I had seen him before on the street, pimping a male prostitute. Now, this is not my neighborhood, but this area is situated between my street and my favorite coffee shop, so I do see a lot of “interesting” characters there on U.S. 41. It is good to keep a mental representation of who is local and what goes on around you.. I would have seen him again soon or later. Interestingly, he was involved in a stabbing of a “customer” a few months later. his male street worker did the stabbing, but he was arrested as an accomplice. So, I wasn’t dealing with a choir boy here.
What I should have done right there was to call 911. Instead, I ran to the apartment. Mistake number two. A side door was open and that male prostitute, the thief’s boyfriend was inside cooking. I did not force my way in but demanded my bicycle in no uncertain terms… He pretended not to know what I was talking about. That’s when things could have taken a different turn. I had two male individuals in the house, with at the very least kitchen knives, and who knows what else.. Had they attacked me I would have had to choose between defending myself and calling the police. I was too out of breath by then to run again. I told the “guy” I was calling the police, which I did. As I was taking with the 911 operator, the thief came out.
He offered to give me back my bike if I hung up the phone! At that point, all I wanted was my bike back. I told the operator I was getting it back and would be leaving the scene. I couldn’t help but insult the thief and told him I better not see him again… Mistake number three. The 911 operator heard that. Had anything happened to him that night, not of my doing, I would nevertheless have been suspected.. Low-lives like him have a knack for getting in trouble. He said “you won’t” and ran away. When I am pissed-off, I do not look friendly..
I went back to the store to pay for the ice cream, which I was still clutching in my now cold hand. What are the lessons I learned?
- I should have locked my bike, or upon getting the red flag, left and came back later.
- I should have called the police immediately after seeing the thief get inside the apartment.
- I should not have accepted the trade and the police would have been there already had I called earlier.
- I should have refrained from insulting and semi-threaten the thief with the 911 operator listening.
- I should have been better conditioned to run after him, thus not being out of breath had I been forced to defend myself.
When the thief entered the house, there was the time for me to stop, think and catch my breath. I didn’t. I was not in danger right then and the thief couldn’t have left without running into me. I had all the time in the world to formulate a plan. Something I will definitely remember: Don’t rush if it’s not needed, stop and think. I skipped right over the OODA loop, putting myself in danger.
Could I be even dumber than that? You bet. A few days later I was sitting outside the aforementioned coffee shop. My bike this time was locked with a shiny brand new lock. Who shows up for a cup of coffee while his male prostitute boyfriend puts the bread and butter on the table (and maybe elsewhere)? Yep, the bicycle thief! What I should have said then was nothing. Instead I said “Are you going to try to steal that bike again?” He looked at me and blurted something like “You crazy, I didn’t steal your bike, I have a job.” Yeah, you’re a pimp.. I didn’t say that, but I yelled at him to “get the f-ck out of here!” Which he promptly did. I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I don’t think I was at a big risk then, but you never know how things turn out until it’s over; really over sometimes.. New lesson learned: Don’t let your emotions run your mouth.
When we end-up in dicey situations, it is often of our own doing. Maybe not because of an immediate bad decision, but sometimes because of one made months, even years earlier. In this case, not buying a lock was my first mistake, I think.. The others followed. Accidents are almost always a succession of mistakes or overlooking successive clues that things aren’t going in the right direction. That’s when the OODA loop works. Learn about it!