As one commenter pointed out yesterday, my little escapade is the second close call of this sort in four months. (The first being my encounter with a couple of other local youths while I was in town interviewing for my new job.)
So the question becomes one of why this keeps happening to me. Am I doing something to invite this sort of contact?
The answer actually is yes, kinda.
I'm going about my business in the areas that street criminal predators are looking for easy prey, and I'm doing the same things that easy prey does. In the first instance, running along the river is something that tourists staying at the downtown hotels often do. And tourists or business travelers tend to carry money or nice things and leave town eventually. Bad guys know that many of these folks won't be coming back to testify at a trial even if the bad guys do get arrested and charged with a crime against them.
In the second occurrence, predators know that people leaving bars are often less than sober, and bars in semi-dodgy areas that are frequented by tourists and locals from nearby affluent neighborhoods can make for some good pickings.
My problem here is that I tend at first glance to look like easy prey because I'm doing the same sort of things that easy prey does and in the same areas that easy prey go. The predator types can't tell at first glance who I am, or what my experiences and skills are, or know that I'm usually carrying a firearm whose caliber starts with a "4". Still, I'd really prefer not to have to use that firearm, despite countless hours of training to do so.
So what do I do? Do I stop doing the things that I like to do, just because there are bad people about? Do I concede the streets to the predators and just stay shut up in my house after dark?
No, I can't do that. That's not living. I'm going to keep doing the things that I want to do and going the places that I want to go, and I'll do so with my eyes open and my antennae up. I won't purposefully go down dark alleys alone or give the bad guys a free shot by virtue of my decisions or inattentiveness, but I'm definitely not going to cede the streets of my own community, either. I will travel freely and do my best to mitigate my risks and avoid confrontation, but I'll also do so with the intent to protect myself from any gremlins that force my hand.
I love this city, and I'm going to enjoy it. I'm just not going to be a victim in the process. I will go where it makes sense to go and do what I want to do, but I will maintain my readiness and be prepared to win the fight should some morlock bring one on.