Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Guess I owe Jeff Cooper a beer.
So capping off another great New Orleans evening last night, I'm walking back to the lot where my car is parked after a few hours with some of my new friends in a local pub. It's been fun, but I had to be up at sunrise to run and then head into work, so I called it a night early. Now I'm walking along--minding my own business--and I observed two presumably fine citizens whom I'll simply refer to as LaDarius and Precious. I did not get their actual names, but I'm probably not far off the mark with my shameless stereotyping. If it offends you, go read another blog written by a touchy-feely liberal douchebag or just retreat to your "safe space".
Anyway, I see this cute couple sitting on the steps of a house which I'm sure does not belong to them as I walk past on the other side of the street. No threat, but I notice people as a rule and I also notice that they are noticing me and watching as I walk along, probably because I am so damned good-looking.
I go into the parking lot, make my way my vehicle, start it up, and head towards the only exit, which is back onto the street that I just came down. Suddenly a woman steps out from between a couple of cars as if she's going to cross in front of me. I stop and motion her across, but she just stands there, and then she kind of steps out in front of my vehicle and puts her hands up as if to ask "what's up?", basically implying that I have somehow committed some sort of faux pas here. I motion for her to cross again but she continues to just stand there with her hands out, and she's saying something that I cannot make out.
Wait a minute...I recognize her. That's Precious from across the street a minute ago. Why is she over here?
Hell, where's LaDarious? He's not with her, and he's not across the street on the steps that they were both on a moment ago. Scan...
LaDarious is now stepping out from between some other cars behind me to my left, at about my seven o'clock, and he's approaching my driver's door fast.
Damn right it's a trap. Precious was pretty obviously trying to stall me or, with any luck, get me to roll my window down or even step out of my vehicle while her boo was working his way up on my blind slide. I didn't see any boxes of Girl Scout Cookies in his hands and surely nothing good was going to come of this. Worse, I could not see his hands at all as he moved up. Time to do something.
Bye, Precious. I slammed my hand down on the horn at the same time I hit the gas. Fortunately for both of us, Precious was quick to jump back out of the way, so I didn't smash her like a bug as I bolted out of what seemed to have been a pretty cut-and-dried ambush there, but had she not moved I'd have flattened her and had no trouble articulating why I did so in the subsequent discussions with the police that would have followed. As it was, no contact, so no harm and no foul. But I did place a call to 911 immediately afterwards to report two suspicious individuals in that parking lot, and earlier this morning I called a business contact that I have in the NOPD district in which this occurred, just to let them know. He figured it was a robbery or carjacking attempt too by the time I was half way through the narrative. (And who says cops are dumb?)
I still love this city and it's nightlife, but just like anywhere else you've got to stay switched on and aware.
But thinking this over afterwards, I got to thinking about the late Jeff Cooper's Combat Mindset and Color Codes, and I thought that this little episode showed the shift through the various colors pretty well, starting with my walk from the bar to the car.
A lot of people bumble around here in Condition White--totally oblivious to what's going on around them and who is present. This is how victims happen, and no doubt, my two new friends were hoping that this was my state of mind. But they misjudged this time. I've been around the block a few times, and I know in particular what goes on in this neighborhood after dark sometimes. I'm not frightened off or dissuaded from coming here, but I do pay attention and take basic precautions, including driving the short distance between my house and this bar instead of just walking it like I'd have done in daylight. I also look at everyone around me and casually assess them, and that's how I came to see these two. And I noted immediately that they were likely the wrong demographic for the expensive house whose steps they were sitting on and I noted that they were taking an interest in me as well. I observe this because I'm Condition Yellow, and I make observations and judgments of anyone who happens to be in my immediate area. It's ingrained and automatic. Passing them, my focus shifts to the poorly parking lot and the fact that at this moment I'm the only one moving through it so that becomes my primary concern for a minute. It's still my concern as I'm driving out, so when this woman just happens to magically appear and step out in front of me, she immediately has my full attention. Where did she come from? What is she doing? Do her actions make sense? In this instance, there's no logical reason for her to be right there at that precise moment in time, and she's not trying to either get across in front of me or wait for me to pass. No, she's blocking my path and trying to engage me. This is that Code Orange moment, when things just don't feel right. Could all be a coincidence, but maybe not.
And then I recognize her, because I'd looked her over a couple of minutes ago. And I immediately associate her with her guy friend, whom I no longer see, either with her or where they both were a minute ago. It stands to reason that he's still around somewhere, so a scan is in order. Don't focus on Precious now...find the other one.
And there he is...right where I'd be if I was a mope trying to mope up on someone. He was coming up fast from behind, and his speed and location suggested no purpose other than harm to me.
A moment's hesitation on my part would have had this guy at my door. I lock my doors when I get in (usually) but how many people don't? What if I'd been dumber and rolled the window down or gotten out to see what the "nice lady" wanted? Mookie would have been right there, and probably not to give me an award for being a great guy.
At this point, I knew that I had to break contact with these two fast, and the only way out was the exit ahead. Precious was in the way, but she was also clearly part of this set-up, so any concern for her safety went right out the window. If they were banking on my hesitating to hit a girl with my car, they figured wrong; but for her being pretty agile and quick--almost like she was expecting my move--I'd have gone right over her. And then I would not have stopped again until I arrived at the police station.
As it was, it ended well, at least for me. I got home unharmed after a fun night out with friends, and I have another story to tell. Hopefully it motivates a few of you to assess how aware you are when you're out and about, and if it does that for even one of you, well then it was worth writing this up.