When I first gave this talk, and mentioned the title, someone immediately raised their hand and said, “You mean a victim!” I intentionally used the word accomplice because I believe that many times our mental state makes us an unwitting accomplice.
We set ourselves up for problems; sometimes we get overloaded with life and sometimes our lives just become so complicated that we stop thinking and simply go on rote memory.
I will tell you that sometimes while driving, I get so involved in thinking about something that I find myself driving ……and driving…. then realizing the turns or lights I was supposed to make were forgotten. All of a sudden, your mind snaps back and “yells” out to you—holy moly where am I?
For the next 2 weeks, we are in the holiday season. Maybe reading this will save your money, being assaulted or save your life.
Focus on this picture that happened last Friday in a parking lot out front of a building that says, “Professional Building”.
A woman was leaving a building walking toward her car, looking at her cell phone with her handbag draped low on her arm. She’s glued to a phone and her mind is on blank…she gets to her car, a late model Lexus, opens the door and stands there now talking on the phone. Here is the point: is she a victim or an accomplice? I think we know the answer.
What is the list of don’ts we need to do?
- Let’s start with the phone: don’t carry it in your hand when you are going to your car, going from your car, or going anywhere. Why? because you lose the use of a hand to defend yourself. We’re so consumed with thinking about our phone- it puts your mind on blank.
- When you get into your car, don’t sit in the car looking at your phone, looking in the mirror, or looking at notes. Why? Because you are going to be surprised when someone raps on your window and assaults you.
- When you’re in your car in the parking lot, don’t do anything but leave, immediately. Don’t take business cards off your windshield— if you hear a noise, don’t get out to look. Just leave.
- If there is Valet Parking, use it. Don’t meander around a parking lot and find a space a football field away from the entrance. If you have a handicapped sticker, use it; if there is Valet Parking, pay the money and use it.
Why do I obsess about cars in parking lots? Because that is where assaults and robberies take place. Cars hide the perps from view—they can sneak around, and they catch us unprepared.
I teach my clients, seniors of all ages in seminars and classes to be mentally prepared—because we’re not. All of us here grew up in different times-it’s different out there and we’re older now.
- Don’t use ATM machines. Go into a bank or wait for the next day. I look at ATM machines as a ringside seat for a perp to rob you—you’re distracted, absorbed in figuring out what button you’re supposed to hit, and you have your bank credit card out, fumbling with keys, your wallet and just stuff. Wow, you might as well be on stage shouting out “Hey, look at me! I have money to give away!”
- If you still drive and get gas, don’t use the credit card processor at the pump, pay inside. The why is the obvious: there are all kinds of information devices being inserted into the machines to take your money. Go inside and pay and get a receipt.
- When you get in a car, don’t put your pocketbook, a package, or your cell phone on the passenger seat; put it in the foot well of the car. Why? because the perps know we do that. Also, they know that most of the time the passenger door is opened when we are in the car, and sneak up on the right side where he can’t be seen when he is crouching.
- The word to scream when in trouble is ‘rape’. Don’t yell ‘help’, even if you are a man. Why? Rape is a word that gets attention. Help is just a word: help me to the car, help me get in—‘rape’ is attention, and a scary word even to a perp.
And the last 2 thoughts:
Don’t think that because you use a cane or a walker that these are detriments –they are weapons. They can be used to stick out someone’s eye; a walker is your distance between you and the perp—the walker can be shoved at someone too.
Don’t think you are ever unarmed—you have keys that are weapons and you have purses that if used like a windmill is a weapon.
Here is a personal story
Years ago, I worked in NYC—left work late, at about 9:00 at night and went to the subway. I was alone on the platform. I saw a young guy, full of himself walking with a purpose toward me. It was obvious what was going to happen. I carried a briefcase, a thick large briefcase and I can’t tell you why I did it, but I started windmilling my briefcase! I looked like an airplane propeller on the tracks. The perp stopped walking about 25 yards from me, saw that he could get clipped by this “weapon”, thought better of it, and maybe thought there is an easier target and turned around. Instead of being an accomplice, standing there waiting for it to happen, something just clicked in. My briefcase saved me from a beating.
Just remember as I say Happy Holidays to all of you, we are seniors with a lot of life left, a lot of wisdom and experience—we will not be anyone’s victims or accomplices.
Take my advice for what it is….it’s just as I see it.