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?