Monday, August 23, 2010

Situational Awareness

 



I wouldn’t call myself a paranoid person. But I definitely have a reasonable level of situational awareness. As a woman who frequently lives alone, I feel I have to be aware of my surroundings to protect my safety and security. I double check the locks in my house before I go to bed. I carry my purse straps on my shoulder rather than in my hand. I never leave expensive items in my car. And when I learned over the weekend that during our vacation in Jamaica, someone hijacked my husband’s credit card number, I’m thankful for my diligent monitoring of our finances.


Situations like this make me feel vulnerable. And I don’t like feeling vulnerable. Toward the end of my husband’s deployment, I encountered another vulnerable moment that reminded me of the importance of situational awareness.


One night, as I was outside turning off my sprinklers, I saw a car parked on my lawn. I started walking toward it to see if anyone was inside, but then I realized how stupid it was for a woman to approach an unknown vehicle in near darkness. I returned to my house, locked all my doors, and called the police. As I waited 30 minutes for the police to arrive, I turned off the lights in my house and repeatedly, borderline obsessively, peeked out the window. I watched as the car’s headlights turned on for 5 minutes and then flipped off again, meaning that someone was actually in the car and just sitting there.


I have never called the police before, and I felt kind of silly for doing it, but it sure made me feel better when 2 patrol cars blocked the car in and approached it with guns and flashlights drawn. The driver claimed he was waiting for my neighbor to come home and wasn’t aware that my lawn was private property. The cop assured me that the man did not have alcohol on his breath and that he was apologetic. (The cop also said the driver was wearing a dress shirt and tie but, in my mind, spiffy clothes don’t exactly eliminate him as a potential criminal.)


The car pulled into my neighbor’s driveway, the police left, and I continued staring out my window. The car sat there for another 30 minutes, periodically turning the headlights on and off before leaving. I still felt uneasy about the whole situation. But right before I went to bed I looked out my window one last time and happened to see the car pull into my neighbor’s driveway again, right behind my neighbor. They walked into the house, and yes, he was indeed wearing a dress shirt and tie.


I still don’t understand why this man parked on my lawn, how he failed to notice that my lawn was not the street, or how he seemed oblivious to the fact that his actions were highly unusual. But I’m glad I called the police instead of spending a sleepless night worrying that someone was going to break into my house. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially while our husbands are deployed.


If only our situational awareness was as acute while we were in Jamaica!



Do you have a heightened situational awareness when your husband is gone?






18 comments:

  1. How utterly bizarre! You were absolutely right to call the police, and I'm glad they came to check things out.

    I do feel more strongly about making sure my SA bubble is expanded as far as I can make it go when I'm home by myself. I hate feeling vulnerable, so if there is something I can reasonably do to mitigate that feeling, I try to do it.

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  2. I would have done the same thing, that's just too scary. I definitely feel like I'm on guard more but even when Hubby is home I'm like that.

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  3. Ok, that is so scary. I don't think it is paranoid. I live alone in a private street with only six houses, and there has been a couple of times this has happened, especially people parking in the house across the street which is for sale and empty. I have called the police twice. I am like you, I live alone and check the bolts a bunch of times before I go to sleep, look out the windows, etc. I am in the Army and I even have an "escape" plan in case someone breaks into my house...lol. I know it may sound crazy but its the Army chick in me! :)

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  4. That would have creeped me out like no other. That's not normal and I am so glad that you called the police no matter how silly you may have felt. You are alone in a house and there is only so much you can do being a woman by yourself.

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  5. Girl....I am the SAME exact way! No kidding either. I always double, sometimes triple check to make sure my house doors are locked before I head to bed. I also look out every window before heading to bed. I am sooooo aware of my surroundings that it does become a bit much. But I can't help it. I also come up with "what if" ideas in my head. Like when I'm loading the kids in the car while I'm in a store parking lot. "What if" I were to start the car to cool it off on a summers day, and I put the kids in the car and then turn around to get the bags, someone jumps in my car and drives off with my kids. I am constantly doing this with ALL situations. But I feel like I will have a better way to be able to react to a situation if I've already planned out what I would do in my head.

    Great minds think alike!

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  6. What a freaky thing - you made the right decision.

    No, I don't think I am more aware or nervous, BUT, I think it's where we live. It's so safe and quiet. I always check the doors before bed, lock my car in the driveway, etc. But I have always done that.

    This is the safest place I have ever lifed in my whole life. I am sure I would feel differently if we lived somewhere else.

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  7. My neighbor and I act like neighborhood vigilanties. We've called the cops no less than 6 times while living here for a year. Most of the time it's nothing, but we helped bust a small time drug dealer. In the past 6 months there have been 4 robberies in our neighborhood. I'm not taking any chances. If I don't recognize you and you look at me or my house cross-eyed I'm calling the cops!

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  8. My heightened SA started back a couple of years ago when SoldierMan first got his concealed carry permit. As a result, his heightened awarness rubbed off on me. By the time he left, I was already "in mode," so to speak. Then I got my CC permit, and it was basically what I was already used to. I think all women, milwives or not, should develop heightened awareness. It's not being paranoid, it's being prepared. But you know me :) I kind of preach about this stuff.

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  9. If someone parked on my lawn at night and sat turning his car lights on and off I would call the police, most definitely. Sorry you had your cards stolen that is no fun.

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  10. When I walk the dogs, even though we live in a safe place- like a gated community, but not, if it's late, I'm constantly looking all over the place and see every movement out there. We never lock the doors, because that's the kind of place we live, but when he's gone, you better believe mine are locked!

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  11. I definitely have majorly heightened awareness. That story creeped me out! How bizarre.

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  12. I definitely have heightened awareness when my husband is gone. If anything it's because no one would know something happened to me for a few days. I work from home and only converse with work people every few days. Same for friends...I see/speak with my friends every few days. Because of that, a friend and I started texting each other "good night" during the deployment just to make sure we were each home safe and sound. We agreed that if we didn't hear from eachother by a specified time, we would call the cops.

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  13. That's the #1 reason that I like living in base housing. There are plenty of reasons not to like it, but you can't beat the security of it during deployments.

    We've gone through the credit card number stolen during TDY too. It's NOT fun at all, but thankfully it was his government card so didn't affect our personal finances.

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  14. Wow that is great that you noticed that and definitely smart of you to call the police. I also like to be aware of my surroundings, I lock the doors, and make sure I am in safe situations. Sometimes I can become quite obsessive about it because I like to worry, but better to be safe than sorry I guess!

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  15. Very much so! I try to avoid letting random people know he is gone. I am more paranoid about locking doors, and leaving lights on when I am gone. I've also got a degree in Forensic Science, which also makes me even more crime paranoid!

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  16. You have every right to be paranoid!
    My debit card number was hijacked also!
    Last week was awful....
    I can't believe the cops didn't make him move.
    number 1,987 why I don't like police. worthless.
    Get off my lawn!
    I'm glad your okay though.

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  17. Oh that is really weird. I'm glad you called the cops and it turned out to be nothing...but still...it could have been something. I could totally envision the peeking through the window because that's what I would have done too!

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  18. Not-so-good SA in Jamaica, huh? Do share that story.

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