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Sometimes I notice things that I am not sure other people notice. For example, yesterday I got onto the bus and immediately realized that there was no one else on it. This bus, the B39, only makes 3 stops, just over the Williamsburg Bridge and back, so it is never particularly crowded. Where I get on is its first stop, and it is not unusual for me to be the only one there. Still, as I sat down in my seat, I was acutely aware of being all alone with the bus driver. The male bus driver.

Don't get me wrong, I do not think there is much chance of the guy coming out from behind the steering wheel to attack me. But that did not stop me from A, noticing that we were alone together, and B, immediately figuring out what I would do if he did. (I am pretty sure it involved a rear naked choke. And a back flip off the roof. Parkour!)

We reached the next stop two minutes later and 5 other people got on, thereby ending my little James Bond fantasy. But it made me wonder. Do other people do this? Do men do this, or is it only us ladies? Do non martial artists do this? 

Do you guys do this?

Even with my headphones on, I am always aware of who gets on and off the subway car. I notice when I am alone on a street at night too. And every so often I catch myself with my face buried in my phone and a little alarm goes off inside my head, reminding me to pay attention to where I am going. 

And not just because people who suddenly stop walking to check Facebook are really, really irritating.

I have lived in NYC my whole life and thankfully, nothing bad has ever happened to me. I have never been attacked on the street. I have never been mugged, except for once in Junior High when a teenage girl tried to steal my bus pass. I am sure part of this is just luck, but I would like to think that it is also due to my hyper awareness.

If I, as a martial artist and advocate of self defense training, could impart one thing on every young girl out there it would be this: PAY ATTENTION! Stop staring at your I-Phone. At the very least, you will stop tripping over things. And someday, it just might save your life.

Here are some other things I do while I am out in the world:

  1. When I see a large group of teenagers hanging out on the corner, I cross the street. No offense to all you teenagers out there, I am sure most of you are harmless. But I am smaller than all of you, and you get bored easily.
  2. If someone is walking directly behind me on a not so crowded street, I often pause and pretend to dig in my bag for something until he (or she) passes. I don't like to have people near me that I cannot see.
  3. I turn the other cheek. Or at least, I try to. If you bump into me by accident I ignore it. If you cut me off in traffic, I let you go. (OK, actually, I don't drive. But if I did, I would let you go. Unless you are one of those jerks who drives on the shoulder and does not know how to wait in line. Then I am sideswiping you. Cause you deserve it.)
Those of you who are used to seeing my "Free Range Kids" posts might be thinking "Wait a minute! You said that there are no bad guys out there. You said that the world is safe. So why are you being so paranoid?"

In my opinion, there is a difference between keeping your kid at arms reach for fear she might be abducted by child killers, and teaching her to observe her surroundings. There is a difference between walking the streets in fear, and crossing the street when you see some rowdy people on the corner. Child molesters are not everywhere. But cars are. And potholes. And the occasional angry person who tries to start a fight by stepping on your boots. And the worst NYC offender of all, poop. Poop is everywhere in this city. How will you keep your shoes clean if you don't pay attention??

Pay Attention!
That poor bus driver. Thank goodness he can't read minds.


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