Re: And then I felt lame and wrote about it on the internet dot com.

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Sorry about that, chief -- I think the posts went up just about simultaneously.

And I bet you were right about the incident; if you were that specifically uncomfortable, there was something going on. And who carries a pipe around, anyway? But of course you'll never know for sure.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:08 PM
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And who carries a pipe around, anyway?

I was carrying several rusty pipes around last week.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:21 PM
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it seems to me that tarni (prayers) that i learnt from my mom and say sometimes when i kinda feel uneasy helps to ward off the whatever danger i imagine is coming my way
shouldn't show that you are afraid they say coz if the assaulter(s) sense that you are afraid it like encourages their mean spirits, should try to scare them off by your confident behaviour


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:27 PM
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I've accidentally avoided being mugged before. It definitely produces a sense of vague embarrassment, like, was I given the chance to shit or get off the pot, and opted to punt?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:28 PM
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Is punting shitting or getting off the pot, here?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:30 PM
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Probably the most terrified I've ever felt in my life was in the Canal Street Q station, waiting for a train at 3am. I usually feel quite safe in the subway, but that night I looked in both directions and I was completely alone except for, on the same side as me at the end of the platform, this incredibly creepy-looking guy wearing very high-heeled cowboy boots. He was staring at me without turning his body, just his head, and all of a sudden, he pivots and starts walking toward me, slowly at first, and then faster and faster, until he's almost running. I fucking freaked and started running up the stairs behind me, turned a corner, and finally saw a couple coming down to the platform. I let them go down first, and then followed, and the guy just stood there, still staring at me hatefully. The train came and he didn't get on. Terrifying.

The same thing happened in another abandoned train station in Brooklyn, and I realized the guy was trying to get to where I was by avoiding my angle of sight, dodging around stairwells. I was trying to keep my eye on him, but suddenly he was right in front of me. I went into panic mode and made like I was going to throw up, and he backed away.

In both cases, I felt weird about reacting as if they were being weird because what if someone just wanted directions or something? And it takes a lot to convince myself that, no, it's really not reasonable for anyone to approach a woman alone in an abandoned train station at 3am and ask for anything, ever. In my neighborhood, people often come up to me and try to start a conversation in the middle of the night when no one's around, and I've just brushed them off by saying, "It's 3am and I am alone and I am not talking to you." Some of them seem genuinely surprised, like it did not occur to them that a 3am chat-up might not be flattering and romantic.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:40 PM
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Also, this is just to say I'm glad no one bashed your skull in, Stanley! You have a nice skull!


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:46 PM
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A guy I know was in the middle of getting mugged in Manhattan, the mugger had demanded his wallet, and as he was getting it out, my friend joked, Hey, couldn't you at least leave me enough for train fair back to New Jersey?

The mugger says, Aw man, you're from Jersey too? All right dude, never mind. And doesn't take his wallet.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:48 PM
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Stanley, and then you felt lame?

I think I've heard a bunch of stories like this, all including the potential victim actually saying something along with a head-nod along the lines of "What's up, I'm just going about my business here, we all have things to do, don't we, cheerio then."

You did just right.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:52 PM
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I finally see for the first time that the one dude has a three-foot pipe,

I think they wanted to smoke pot with you.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:53 PM
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5: well, right, neither. Given the opportunity to shit or get off the pot, you opt to kick a ball downfield. Sort of misses the point, doesn't it?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:55 PM
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I think they wanted to smoke pot with you.

He felt lame because it was only later that he realized he'd missed the opportunity to smoke up with Michael Phelps.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:55 PM
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And who carries a pipe around, anyway?

Itinerant plumbers? Anyway, I'd have been even more freaked out than you appeared to be, Stanley. Glad you escaped un-piped.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:55 PM
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In the interest of brevity I'll just link to my story of accidentally avoiding a mugging.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:57 PM
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Itinerant plumbers?

Conservative bloggers trying to "raise funds" for their "media empire"?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 6:57 PM
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2: I was carrying several rusty pipes around last week.

Yet I don't find this beyond the realm of possibility.

At least: wouldn't one like to run across ben lugging home a 20-lb. goat haunch (or whatever it is) from the market of a Saturday. Who does that? Well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:06 PM
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Also, how far can you punt a ball without having gotten off the pot yet? Especially if your pants are around your ankles.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:10 PM
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forgot to write the tarni
sure it's that, opium for the people and all that, but anyway - emehe umaha pani pani suukhaa - in case someone will find it helpful
i even used to say the Japanese soukagakkaian one too, following the logic like who knows maybe their spirits listen to their prayers - so superstitious,
nanmumyohourengekkyo


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:14 PM
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Stanley, I'm genuinely curious: What about this makes you feel lame? It sounds me to me like you interpreted some odd behavior as potentially threatening, and took steps to avoid it.

Is it that it feels lame to have avoided an outright confrontation? Is it that you feel worried that you were profiling these guys (assuming they were of different race/social class than you)? Is it that you are worried that on some not-really-rational level it makes you seem self-important or narcissistic (it was about ME! they were going to mug meeeeee!)?

I realize that's a barrage of questions and kind of intrusive. Part of why I'm asking is that I was struck by how completely your post echoes so many women's stories about sexual assault or threatened assault. There's this whole social dance about what is and is not "overreacting," and there's a lot of pressure to both take risk and your intuition seriously, and NOT to be the kind of straw-feminist who sees every guy as a potential attacker. I think there is similar pressure on men and women about mugging and physical altercations, but I don't know how far the parallel can be pushed.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:36 PM
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See, Stanley is a girly man. I would have torn the pipe out of the guy's hands and beaten him and his friend within an inch of their lives.

Not really. Portland is a weeny town. I have no idea what I'd do in a tough town.

The whole presentation of self thing comes up in this kind of situation. You can't seem unfriendly, and you can't seem afraid. Can't challenge, can't shrink. Can't be distant, can't be too friendly. You learn the tricks, but at some point they won't work.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:44 PM
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19: I don't really know why I felt lame about it. The sexual-assault part of it is certainly wrapped up in there. When I got back and relayed my story, a friend said I had deployed a suggested rape-avoidance defense: just say something.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:49 PM
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Stanley did just fine.

That out of the way, I can briefly relate the closest I ever came (AFAIK) to getting jumped: I used to do a lot of work with an org that worked with elementary school kids in a local, extremely troubled black neighb. Bad Old GF & I ended up with extremely close relationships with 5 particular kids, to the point of having them for sleepovers and watching the Super Bowl* with them. Anyway, one night I'm going to one of their apts in the projects, wearing my then-typical Navy watchcap and WW2 Marine coat, and as I turn a corner, two young adults sort of jump back, pause, then helpfully announce that I almost got jumped there, and should be more careful.

It was so fast and so absurd, I didn't even get a rush. Mostly, it was reassuring to know that my longtime assumption - that no one was interested in fucking with a harmless white guy - was fundamentally correct.

Oh, another time I was visiting a community where I'd been doing planning work, with my dad & his GF in the car, just showing them What I Do, when a guy came up offering me drugs. When I explained, no thanks, I'm not here for that, he got agitated (kind of like a server with a tabl;e that just orders coffee and sits there for 2 hours) and ordered me off. Not that we were close to violence, but he was genuinely pissed at me. Funny.

* Curse you, Neil O'Donnell


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:52 PM
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I was leaving a metro station a few weeks ago during rush hour and some guy with sort of wildish red hair and a bit of a crazy look on his face glanced at me, looked away, and then looked back and started staring at me on the escalator. I was ahead of him as I went to the exit, but I stopped at the add fare machine and he went by, still sort of looking at me. He was still standing at the exit when I got there; I wasn't really worried, but I was in a bad mood and didn't want to talk to anyone I didn't know, so I went around to the other set of faregates and saw him again. So I went back toward the trains again, waited a bit, then left and didn't seem him.

In retrospect, it's possible he recognized me and we actually do know each other from somewhere, but he never said a word. He never seemed threatening - plus there was an agent at the station and trains arriving on rush hour schedule - just weird.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:53 PM
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23: this guy?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:55 PM
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Neil O'Donnell is the most unfairly maligned figure in Pittsburgh sports history.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:55 PM
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eb nearly got jumped by Carrot Top?


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 7:58 PM
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Maybe I was saved by the reduction in pay phones.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:01 PM
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"Big Red" is one of our local chronic drunk homeless guys. But he's always been pretty easy going with me.

A week or so ago a call came in that a man was beating another man with sticks on a downtown corner. The reality was that Big Red was passed out next to a flower box on the sidewalk. One of our other chronic drunks, a big Native American guy, was standing next to Red furiously air drumming with a couple sticks he'd taken out of those flags you're supposed to carry in the crosswalk.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:08 PM
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those flags you're supposed to carry in the crosswalk

Oh, yeah, those... what?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:10 PM
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Oh, yeah, those... what?

http://www.walkinginfo.org/library/details.cfm?id=2933


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:12 PM
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Removable orange flags were installed at crosswalks to increase drivers' visibility of pedestrians. The flags increased visibility and showed a clear indication of pedestrians' desire to cross the street. It was shown that both pedestrians and drivers thought there was a benefit of the simple presence of the flags in their holders at the crosswalk. Pedestrians take the flags from one end of the crosswalk to increase their visibility as they cross the street and then return them to the other holder.
Seriously?!? Oh my god. You can cross the street safely, only to be beaten by Nelson Muntz as you reach the other side.
Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:14 PM
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That's hilarious. One of the items in the U of C Scavhunt several years ago involved putting flags like that at the corners of one of the busier intersections near campus. I didn't know it was based on an actual policy somewhere.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:16 PM
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They put in those flags in Berkeley a couple of years ago.

The first person to use one got hit by a car.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:16 PM
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Why not just have pedestrians wear propeller beanies?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:17 PM
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I though it was dippy too. But I have to admit, it does make a difference. I drive around the city a hell of a lot these days, and that orange flag really grabs your attention when it's moving across the street.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:19 PM
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U.Va. did those flags, too. Seemed helpful till they got stolen.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:23 PM
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that orange flag really grabs your attention when it's moving across the street

It's always helpful to have something to aim at.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:26 PM
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If there'd been a sticker on the pipe that read, "This pipe is a bike bomb," Stanley, you could have reported them to Homeland Security.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:27 PM
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Neil O'Donnell is the most unfairly maligned figure in Pittsburgh sports history.

Bullshit. As my sister said, during the pregame warmup, they showed his eyes, and you could see fear. Tex Avery wouldn't have made it any more clear. The Cowboys were a nice team that year, but the Steelers were outperforming them - until O'Donnell forgot which color his team was wearing. The MVP was the guy who caught the 2 interceptions, and he didn't make a nice play on either one. He simply looked up, saw the ball coming towards his chest, and squeezed it when it arrived.

I might add that I say this as someone who is a degree of separation from Neil's brother, and is hoping to get some work from him. I just hope he doesn't mention football.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:27 PM
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Those plastic signs they put in the middle of the street at crosswalks have been shown to be useful as well, but every once in awhile you see one that's been flattened - a bit chilling.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:28 PM
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they showed his eyes, and you could see fear.... until O'Donnell forgot which color his team was wearing.

So it wasn't yellow? Ohohoho!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:28 PM
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The signs in the intersection I'm okay with. Also the raised crosswalks, woonerfs, and all that other business. Things that put the onus on pedestrians are what bug me.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:30 PM
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21: 19: I don't really know why I felt lame about it. The sexual-assault part of it is certainly wrapped up in there. When I got back and relayed my story, a friend said I had deployed a suggested rape-avoidance defense: just say something.

I don't have anything in particular to suggest about this, but I wonder why the 'just say something' approach can have some effect. Obviously it doesn't always. Perhaps just a crapshoot: maybe you're dealing with someone responsive to the sound of your (autonomous) voice.

I've had white friends living in majority-black neighborhoods here in Baltimore -- these friends are male -- who've said they have no trouble in their 'hoods, pretty much, since they walk their streets with an air of belonging. They continue to walk and talk, nod here and there, no fuss no muss. It's all about the attitude, the stance. These friends are male, as I said.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:30 PM
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I also wonder if I'm overreacting, since it was a fairly well-trafficked bit of road.

They were stalking you, strictly speaking. They were laying back until they could get a clear shot at you when nobody was looking (such as if you turned down an alley); they weren't ready to jump when you spoke to them. Since the jig was up, they knew you'd be prepared, and that would involve yelling and stuff. Bad for business. Back to square one, find someone else not prepared.

Plus: who wants to mug what appears to be a large homeless squirrel anyway?

Junkies. It's a frozen market in copper pipe these days. I'm betting the pimping probably isn't going too well either.

max
['They probably agree with the R's that this country needs to go back to old-fashioned ways of making money.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:30 PM
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In situations like this I usually fire a warning shot. If that doesn't stop the people I shot one of them in the knee.


Posted by: Matt (not the famous one) | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:32 PM
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38: I laughed at that. Reluctantly, but heartily.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:32 PM
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I'm betting the pimping probably isn't going too well either.

Well, it ain't easy, that's for sure.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:33 PM
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Neil O'Donnell is the most unfairly maligned figure in Pittsburgh sports history.

So who's the most fairly maligned figure in Pittsburgh sports history? The guy that couldn't throw out the slowest man in baseball when it counted?


Posted by: Gabriel | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:34 PM
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47: It's hard, even.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:34 PM
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34: Why not just have pedestrians wear propeller beanies?

No shit. A giant head banner reading: I am walking across the street, mutherfucker! If you hit me, you suck!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:37 PM
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Pedestrians should have explosives. Once a collision takes down a car, it's bound to be a deterrent for everyone else. What could go wrong?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:39 PM
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39: Don't give me that see it in his fucking eyes crap. Bull-double-fucking shit, that is the lamest post hoc bullshit in sports fandom. The Pittsburgh D came out like total wimps and were very lucky not to be down by two touchdowns right off the bat. Yes, they were catching up, and yes O'Donnell fucked up. No worse the the defense at the start. Fucking guy gets you there and the whole town dumps on him when he isn't Terry Bradshaw in the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh sports fans don't deserve the Steelers.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:42 PM
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43.last: I don't disagree with anything you're saying, but my experience is that it's very different to walk around a poor/violent/neighborhood-where-you-don't-appear-to-belong that you are in REGULARLY, versus being a one-time visitor to such a neighborhood.

I spend a fair bit of time in two such places. How I feel in those two is wary but in my own way pretty comfortable. How I feel in a *random* neighborhood like that is severely jumpy, wildly uneasy.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:42 PM
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At least you thought about talking to them before you did. Last week I was leaving my third-floor apartment to teach. Got to the first floor and saw a guy with a large screwdriver/ice-pick trying to pry the screen off a window. I asked him if he needed some help.

"No."

"What's going on?"

"I lost my keys," he said. I stared at him. "I live here."

And because it was 6:45 a.m. I replied: "No, you don't."

He stared at me. A door on the second floor closed and we both heard footsteps above us.

"Oh, I got the wrong apartment. I live over there," he said, pointing in the away direction.

He walked off. I started walking to class---and about half way there it dawned on me that I'd confronted a burglar with a large screwdriver/ice-pick because I was half-asleep.

In other words, Stanley, I admire your intentional bravery.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:43 PM
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52, coming as it does on the heels of recent events, makes me, a Boston sports fan, laugh.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:43 PM
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Max is right, I think, about the psychology of the "say something" advice. You done good, Stanley.

I once avoided being robbed at gunpoint by leaving a party with a few friends. A minute later, the group of suspicious-looking guys we passed held up a friend who'd left alone.


Posted by: Bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:44 PM
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Wiki:

O'Donnell ended his career with the lowest interception percentage in NFL history, averaging just 2.11 interceptions for every 100 pass attempts.

Discuss.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:45 PM
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57: He had fear in his eyes at the Super bowl and choked. QED.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:46 PM
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55: Curious as to the nature of the laugh. I can imagine several variants.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:48 PM
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a friend said I had deployed a suggested rape-avoidance defense: just say something.

In the US, I have found this to be good advice for fending off weird people on the street: remain calm and say something non-threatening. In France, the moment I said something, anything to a guy on the street, he felt a license to fuck with me even more. The safest thing to do there was to wave a hand dismissively, look mean and aware, and to walk away really fucking fast.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:49 PM
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Generally remarking: yeah, I don't like the junkies. They were a pox on the bookshop when we had an open shop, toward the end. I mean, we knew them. Will, for example. Nice enough guy, skinny guy, junkie. He was actually a friend of a friend, who told me to watch out for Will. He stole, so I had to ban him and alert all the other shops up and down the street. As if stealing books would really net you much money in the first place.

These things make me pretty sad.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:50 PM
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59: a throaty, mordant chortle. A mortle?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:52 PM
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Pittsburgh sports fans don't deserve the Steelers.

Correct.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:52 PM
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53: I understand.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 8:59 PM
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63: Maybe, but we don't deserve the Pirates either.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:01 PM
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63: Yes, one of the results of being a NE Ohioan in Western PA for 20+ years has been to leave me a permanently embittered pro sports fan. Ironically, I really do love defensive football and much of the style that the Steelers play. It's just the wrong people playing it.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:02 PM
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I've had white friends living in majority-black neighborhoods here in Baltimore -- these friends are male -- who've said they have no trouble in their 'hoods, pretty much, since they walk their streets with an air of belonging. They continue to walk and talk, nod here and there, no fuss no muss. It's all about the attitude, the stance. These friends are male, as I said.

I do this somewhat often, to the same effect as your male friends. The problem with being the most trash-talking macho friend amongst your sweet-natured hippie friends is that no one ever offers to walk me back after dark.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:04 PM
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So who's the most fairly maligned figure in Pittsburgh sports history?

Mitch Williams?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:05 PM
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65: Cry me a fucking river. The Bucs won the Series in what? 1979? Call me in another three decades if they haven't won again. I'll buy you a beer to cry in then.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:08 PM
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No, wait, cry me three fucking rivers.

Thanks. Thanks very much. I'll be here all week.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:09 PM
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No, wait, cry me three fucking rivers.

Just make sure none of them catches on fire.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:10 PM
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68: Nice.

Oh, and of course yours was very nice too Ari—we treasure all of the comments here.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:12 PM
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69: I watched Major League this afternoon and got choked up.* Proving (1) that I am insane and (2) that baseball needs to start.

*I am totally not a Tribe person. You know, like Ari.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:12 PM
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73: I'm actually a man without a team. Cleveland's leering mascot makes it impossible for me to support them. But that doesn't mean I don't stoke the fires of ancient regional grudges with all manner of perceived slights. I'm looking at you, teo.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:16 PM
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74: he's not leering at you, ari.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:17 PM
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Ari you could root for the Sacramento Golden Warrior Kings or whatever that minor league club they have out there in the sticks is called.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:17 PM
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76: Okay, funny man, now I'm looking at you and your rich bounty of sports championships.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:20 PM
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In my head, I read 77 in a Schwarzenegger voice.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:22 PM
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No, wait, cry me three fucking rivers.

I cried five rivers on the way here.


Posted by: A.C. Newman | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:24 PM
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I took the rusty pipes back to my room and laid them lovingly before the fireplace.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:40 PM
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69: 65: Cry me a fucking river. The Bucs won the Series in what? 1979? Call me in another three decades if they haven't won again. I'll buy you a beer to cry in then.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won the World Series? Whoa. Was that the strike year?

max
['I mean, they needed a consolation prize anyways, right?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 9:43 PM
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1) Whoa, Stanley. Glad you are okay. Where was this in Alexandria?
2) Fucking guy gets you there and the whole town dumps on him when he isn't Terry Bradshaw in the Super Bowl. Wait now. Pittsburgh sports fans don't like Bradshaw, either.
3) JP Stormcrow, I feel for you. One of my Ohioan friends taunted me before the Superbowl, expressing her hope the Steelers would lose, and I pointed out that no matter what happened, at least I didn't have to root for Cleveland.... (I feel for you. I just am not nice.)


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 10:08 PM
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Where was this in Alexandria?

Around the King Street metro station. I was walking along Duke Street. It's a high traffic area; part of why I feel lame feeling a bit scared.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 10:20 PM
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82.2 Yeah, I know. But they respect that he at least had the decency to just stick to his role and not fuck up in the Super Bowl (and in the one, he really did have a super game).

82.3: Oh, trust me, Cala, the scar tissue is so thick that nothing gets through (see the full litany here). In fact I really never latched onto the "new Browns", so am kind of a man without a team. Not being in Cleveland at the time*, I was even willing to semi-root for Baltimore, so I am suspect in both Western PA and NE Ohio. Actually, the real problem with the Browns is that although they have sucked recently, they were generally quite good, just never good enough (except for before 1965 and the Super Bowl when they won 4 NFL Championships, except no one "counts" those .. so fuck everybody and everyone in every orifice. Pro Football has been berry, berry bad to me. .. Not that I'm bitter.)

*Modell was a total asshole, but he had been that for the 30 years prior, so big fucking surprise.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 10:22 PM
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Very glad you're safe, Stanley! I think you did everything right and have nothing to feel lame about. Sometimes I feel stupid for feeling scared to walk alone to the train, which isn't far away (almost a mile), and in a really bourgie part of Oakland, as W-lfs-n will tell you. But the goes past three bars. So when I'm coming back late at night from San Francisco, I almost always take a cab that last mile, just to be safe. Once a drunk guy caught me at a street light and kept badgering me to go out with him and ditch my plans (W-lfs-n, in fact) to go out with him. Once was enough. I hated having my personal space invaded--he got up close enough to my face for me to smell the alcohol.

I always felt torn between acting with safety first in mind, and the concession to fear it necessarily entails. My dad was always super paranoid, for example, and wouldn't let me go anywhere after dark well into adulthood, and part of what's great about living on my own where I do (in a mostly safe neighborhood; I'm a good 2 miles away from where all the riots happened after the Bart cop shooting over the holidays) is the freedom to walk about whenever I want and be a little "irresponsible." But better safe than sorry, I suppose. I did so many "take back the night" vigils in college, but you can't really take back the night. Darkness can be scary, indeed! The perimeter of UCLA is called "the rape trail" for a reason. Yeah, better safe than sorry.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:07 PM
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Just to be clear, I was not the drunk guy badgering belle, at least not on that occasion.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:09 PM
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the rape trail

Weird. I don't see that anywhere in the promotional literature.


Posted by: ari | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:10 PM
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The perimeter of UCLA is called "the rape trail" for a reason.

In Westwood, really? I certainly wouldn't have figured.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:13 PM
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Ooops, sorry. I meant that I was on my way to to the train to see W-lfs-n, when drunk dude stopped me at the streetlight.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:13 PM
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My mugging story was late night in Jersey City. I was walking back to the recording studio with a bag of donuts, and a crew of 4 teenagers were headed toward me. They made me a little nervous but I felt that "can't do anything now without being weird." As we came together on the sidewalk, they split two-and-two around me. One of the guys on the left said "Hey man, you got the time?" When I glanced at my watch, one on the right wailed me on the back of the head with what must have been his bottle of Snapple. I guess I was supposed to go down, but instead sort of stumbled; the guy who'd asked the time lunged for me and I turned the stumble into a dead sprint. Half a block later I looked over my shoulder and they had gone the other way instead of chasing me. At this point I manfully shouted, "Yo, what the fuck!"

Back at the recording studio, the engineer patted the pocket of his jacket meaningfully and said, "You wanna drive around until we find 'em?" I said no thanks - who knows what I missed out on.

In retrospect, I believe I've told this story here before. Probably during the "how many kindergardners could you fight" thread. I swear these weren't kindergardners, though.


Posted by: Marichiweu | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:14 PM
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My mugging story was late night in Jersey City. I was walking back to the recording studio with a bag of donuts, and a crew of 4 teenagers were headed toward me. They made me a little nervous but I felt that "can't do anything now without being weird." As we came together on the sidewalk, they split two-and-two around me. One of the guys on the left said "Hey man, you got the time?" When I glanced at my watch, one on the right wailed me on the back of the head with what must have been his bottle of Snapple. I guess I was supposed to go down, but instead sort of stumbled; the guy who'd asked the time lunged for me and I turned the stumble into a dead sprint. Half a block later I looked over my shoulder and they had gone the other way instead of chasing me. At this point I manfully shouted, "Yo, what the fuck!"

Back at the recording studio, the engineer patted the pocket of his jacket meaningfully and said, "You wanna drive around until we find 'em?" I said no thanks - who knows what I missed out on.

In retrospect, I believe I've told this story here before. Probably during the "how many kindergardners could you fight" thread. I swear these weren't kindergardners, though.


Posted by: Marichiweu | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:14 PM
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Sifu: Some parts of the perimeter are horribly lit, badly paved, and full of bushes that people can pop out from. There were muggings my first year at the law school. I was more afraid of tripping on the poorly paved part on Veteran more than anything, but I did always feel nervous running alongside the bushes and vines because of the reputation they had.


Posted by: belle lettre | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:14 PM
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90, 91: yes, but did they get the donuts?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:17 PM
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90, 91: also, are you Bruce Springsteen, or what?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:17 PM
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90, 91: did you catch what flavor Snapple?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:17 PM
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"the rape trail"

Okay, muggings are one thing, but are these rapes being committed by people jumping out from the bushes, too? When I hear of something like that around a college, I usually assume it's not stranger rape we're talking about.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:20 PM
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There were quite a few stranger-rapes on my campus. A good friend of mine was abducted, raped, and tortured for several hours before she was let go. Totally changed her. It was really scary. It wasn't anyone she knew; she was just walking home from a campus movie at night.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:26 PM
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96: According to this report from the UCLA Police Department, there were 8 forcible rapes reported at UCLA in 2005, 3 in 2006, and 5 in 2007. I'm willing to bet the actual danger of rape from the rape trail is dramatically overstated.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:27 PM
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Further to 98: There were also 9 reports of miscellaneous sex offenses in 2005, 20 in 2006, and 14 in 2007. While I'm also willing to bet that the statistics underreport the number of sex offenses and rapes that actually happened, I really doubt the underreporting is of stranger rape.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:31 PM
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92: full of bushes that people can pop out from

Sad tale: a friend of mine used to work for the City Planning Department here. There was a policy in place, at least in the 80s and from the looks of it in the 90s, to strip and indeed bar all planting of trees in neighborhoods of a certain sort, because they could provide cover for crime.

So you have these horrid-looking neighborhoods, treeless, shadeless, unmerciful. It's for increased police protection.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:34 PM
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Maybe the shrubs themselves are committing crimes.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:36 PM
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Don't be casting aspersions on foxytail, now.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:37 PM
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(This belongs on standpipe's other blog, but: If you pave the world, you will be safe!)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:43 PM
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"standpipe's other blog" s/b book published years ago


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 02-22-09 11:50 PM
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If we're sharing...

1)Warsaw, 1990, smack middle of town, middle of the day. Two drunks start hassling me claiming I bumped them. I apologize even though I hadn't they block me and start talking about a beat down. I freeze, my gf tells them I'm a foreigner and that they're bringing shame to Poland. They back off sheepishly.

2) Prague, 1990 or 1991, right by Wenceslas Square, mid afternoon, me just after changing money on the street. Group of skinheads stares at me, one walks over and 'asks' if I could give him some cash. I pretend not to understand, he points to the Polish paper I'm carrying and calls bullshit. I kick him in the balls and run as fast as I can towards the cops standing a hundred or so meters away.

3) Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, fall 2002, 3AM. I stop by the corner bodega on my way home to buy some cigs. Two very drunk/high guys start hassling me and claiming I snitched on them. I walk out and go towards home (about 50m away). One follows me, starts yelling at me, calling me a fucking cracker and telling me to go back to my own neighbourhood. He then takes a swing at me with a bottle of beer, misses, I push him away, he stumbles, I run into my building.

And that's about it, other than the occasional tense situation with soccer fans in Poland and Germany.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:02 AM
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they're bringing shame to Poland.

Huh, Stanley should have tried this line.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:04 AM
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I think there should be a study. Get volunteers to hang around rough neighbourhoods at night and see how the line works. It could be the big new thing in self-defense.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:29 AM
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One time I cut through an alleyway in Amsterdam and bumped into this skinny looking white dude who yelled "gimme your money". I said no and we both laughed nervously and went our ways.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:50 AM
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I had someone follow me a couple of weeks back. I walked past this group of guys sitting on a step. One of them pretty obviously eyed the camera I had in my hand, and the shiny looking 'phones on my head and, got up, walked the opposite way, then quickly turned and started walking behind me.

I took the 'phones off, so I could hear him coming and kept an eye on his reflection in windows. After a while, I looked over my shoulder and made some pretty direct eye contact. He stopped and turned away. He might have been prepared to grab something from behind and run, but he clearly wasn't interested in direct confrontation.

I don't think I've ever really come particularly close to being mugged. Not for money/stuff, anyway.

I have been the victim of street violence, but that was typical 'turf' stuff, young men wanting to act tough, etc. I've been hit with a bottle, had a knife pulled on me a couple of times, etc. However, in my 30s I'm now largely immune to that sort of random violence. I suppose I am now more at risk of mugging -- I now look more like I have stuff that someone might want -- but I still think it's pretty unlikely.*

My mate J got mugged by 2 guys in London [they had a knife], right after he got paid [in cash]. I've told this story on Unfogged before, I think. God knows what they were thinking. J is over 6ft and probably weighs the best part of 240lbs.** He hospitalised them both. I think he broke one guy's arm in two places, and broke the other guy's jaw [I forget the exact details]. It ended up in court but the judge chucked it out.

* I'm fairly cautious and not stupid, and I'm big enough and young enough that I don't expect I look like a soft target.

** He works in the theatre, and sometimes dresses quite flamboyantly, so maybe they didn't immediately register just how solidly built he is.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 3:48 AM
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Another friend got attacked by a couple of guys in Glasgow when he was walking back from the pub. They had a piece of wood with some nails through it, and some other object [a metal bar or a pipe or something]. He ducked out of the way and legged it. They didn't catch him.

I presume it was an (intended) gay bashing attack. He was walking up a road that runs beside the university [through Kelvingrove Park] which is fairly well known as a site for cottaging.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 3:51 AM
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I went through the cross to the other side of the street dance a few times while consulting at a fancy law firm in a downtown Birmingham building. The place was very near a low income housing project and the sound of gunfire wasn't uncommon.

The signal to break it off was my stopping, unbuttoning my jacket, and waiting with my back to a wall. I'm not big enough to intimidate anyone but being armed and suicidally crazy worked nicely. It also gives a good cardiovascular workout without all that running and sweating.


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 5:37 AM
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I pretend not to understand, he points to the Polish paper I'm carrying and calls bullshit.

This was in Prague? What language were they using?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 6:53 AM
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re: 112

Czech and Polish are, to an extent, mutually intelligible.

I knew what the 'kurwa my' in his nick meant, from my knowledge of Czech, for example.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 7:03 AM
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I felt that "can't do anything now without being weird."

See, Marichiweu is getting at what I was trying to ask last night. What does it mean for a man who may be about to be mugged to be afraid to "be weird"? People will laugh at you? People will be offended? The situation will escalate out of your control?

I get that these are all very real social forces, I just want to know how strongly people experience them. I am totally willing to burst into loud laughter or song,* or begin narrating some nutty internal monologue, if I want to disorient people who physically out-everything me, and may be a danger. Is this just gender privilege, in that women have a bit more social leeway to do this sort of thing?

*And I am an extremely bad, can't-carry-a-tune-in-a-bucket singer


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 7:29 AM
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Stanley:

Come take my concealed handgun class!

Because a gun is very helpful in self-defense when someone is right on top of you before you know it.....


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:00 AM
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If there is ever another Unfogged DCon, I want see to Witt's narrating her nutty internal monologue (or dialogue.)


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:03 AM
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I've never been in an incident in the US where I've thought I was going to be mugged. Twice, getting off a subway (both times a crowded train where I was pushing past people to get off at my stop), I've been shoved/hit and yelled at by someone (one white guy in a suit, one black woman) in an "I'm hoping to start a fight" kind of way, but each time it was a crowded train in the middle of the day, and I just walked away without further incident.

I'd attribute the never having been threatened with mugging thing to my ferociously standoffish body language, but I think more likely I've just been lucky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:05 AM
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I know about the "can't do anything now without being weird" feeling, though not from a situation in which I felt under any threat. Years ago, I was coming back to my office and I saw a young man I didn't recognize walking out with a laptop. This was a small office and I'd been there over a year, so I my first though was that he didn't belong and was likely stealing the laptop. Then, I thought I'm over-reacting because I'm a middle-class white guy in a button-down shirt and the kid was black and not wearing office clothes. He was probably just somebody's graduate student, I told myself even though it seemed very unlikely. Anyway, I didn't say anything, I think because I couldn't say anything that wouldn't have the potential of calling an innocent man a thief. He walked right by me and out the door.

Of course, a couple of minutes looking showed that there was a missing laptop. I called the security guard who told me he saw the guy leaving on a bike and we called the cops. The police caught him about 10 minutes later, with the laptop on the handle bars.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:07 AM
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I was followed once by some jerk once at 2am, so I walked past the local bar that had outdoor tables and he stopped.

I've never been threatened with mugging. It's got to be luck.

114: I'm wondering if it's sort of the reverse of the conditioning women get. We're told, be careful, be afraid, etc. So if I say, wow, this jerk followed me, and I was scared, so I walked by a bar where I knew people, people think, what a sensible Cala. Men don't get the same kind of message, and more than a little bit of the opposite (be tough, be a man, crush the threat with the power of your steely gaze), so a guy acting fearfully is acting in a way that isn't automatically approved, even if sensible.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:11 AM
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Ah, the guilt of "am I just racial profiling."

A man came to my glass front door recently trying to sell me something. He kept trying to get me to open the door. I kept saying that I was interested and to please leave.

He pointed to his arm and said, "bc I am black, right??"

Yea, still not opening the door for anyone.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:12 AM
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"I kept saying that I was interested and to please leave."

If you send mixed signals like that, he's going to get confused.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:20 AM
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118 reminds me that I once found a stranger in my small office -- down a long hallway and numerous other offices away from the front reception desk. I was so startled that I just asked him, rather huffily, what he was doing there. He showed me a business card for the place he was supposedly looking for, and I pointed out that he was not even in the right building.

Then I escorted him out of the building and introduced him to the security guard on the way out. I really can't explain why I did this, except I was adrenalinized and thinking, "I have got to get this guy out of the office." It did pass through my head that I shouldn't get into the elevator with him, but I was too focused on getting him away from my colleagues.

In retrospect I was 90% sure he was one of those lunchtime thieves just looking for purses or wallets he could easily take off a desk. The place I was working at the time had absolutely no walk-ins, and was up on the 8th floor, so it was absurd to think he would have been there on legitimate business.

Funnily enough, he apologized to me as I got him to the lobby. (Like, more seriously than his lame attempt to convince me he was in the wrong office.) I think that was definitely racial, though maybe it was just class. I don't know how he would have responded if he'd run into my colleagues on either side (Hispanic male and black female respectively) rather than me.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:21 AM
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I've lived in DC for six months now (Arlington, technically) and I still haven't been mugged. I feel so left out. However, a cop lives in a house on the end of my block and the neighborhood in DC I frequent most after dark is Dupont Circle, which as far as I know is not very dangerous. So it's not very surprising that I haven't had problems.

114: It could very well affect men more, but I'd imagine women get the "don't act weird in public" urge to at least some degree. You say you're willing to act weird to disorient someone who may be a danger, but anyone may be a danger. How sure do you have to be before you start acting like a freak? The weighting you give to the likelihood that a potential threat is a genuine threat is colored both by practical considerations - that is, a big guy is less likely to get attacked than a small woman - and by social conditioning that being cowardly or crazy is bad. I'll bet there are lots of people who would burst into song if they were hypothetically certain they were about to be mugged, but in any actual situation would convince themselves that doing so would be overreacting until it was too late.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:23 AM
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How sure do you have to be before you start acting like a freak? [...]I'll bet there are lots of people who ... in any actual situation would convince themselves that doing so would be overreacting until it was too late.

Maybe it's a test of general willingness to look odd, then? In that case, I am a bit over to one end of the bell curve. I'm sure I told this story before, but I did once walk around my very small hometown wearing my clothes backwards, as an experiment in social deviance.

(Actually, the deviant part was the two small boys trailing behind me to take notes on people's reactions.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:26 AM
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117: So you don't think this Beth Harpaz essay is representative?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:27 AM
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I actually don't know a lot of people who've been mugged in NY -- that is, of the people where I would certainly know if they had been (parents, sister, husband, close lifelong friends) none have, and I'm not coming up with a lot of mugging stories outside that circle, some, but not enough to call it a norm. Well, a kid grabbed my sister's hat when she was fourteen or fifteen, but she ran him down and took it back -- I dunno if you'd call that a mugging.

But I could just know a lot of lucky people. And a coworker of my father's did get shot on a subway platform sometime in the early '80s; he was being mugged and tried to hit the guy with an umbrella, which turned out to be a bad idea. But he was fine -- the bullet didn't hit anything important.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:39 AM
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It's all important. Some of it is vital.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:41 AM
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Just to be clear, the gun rarely does much good if you are suddenly confront with a problem.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:42 AM
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I always say hi to the collection of homeless guys in the park when I go jogging, because they hang out at the entrance to the more secluded part, and my theory is that if something ever happens to me, (like when the rabid raccoon attacks), they'll be closest to help me and I should build up some goodwill.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:42 AM
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Peter has never been mugged in NYC, but his best friend Jimmy has been mugged twice, both times for his bike. Then Fudge at Peter's turtle.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:43 AM
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Huh. I was mugged a few times growing up, and I lived in what I always thought was a relatively low-crime area. But maybe I was just unlucky.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:46 AM
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Then Fudge at Peter's turtle.

I'd prefer that this be left unexplained. But do please comment again so we can be sure that you're not having a stroke, so we don't have to contact Jammies.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:47 AM
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131: You grew up in the country, right? I always figure Sherlock Holmes had a point.

"They always fill me with a certain horror. It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."

"You horrify me!"

"But the reason is very obvious. The pressure of public opinion can do in the town what the law cannot accomplish. There is no lane so vile that the scream of a tortured child, or the thud of a drunkard's blow, does not beget sympathy and indignation among the neighbours, and then the whole machinery of justice is ever so close that a word of complaint can set it going, and there is but a step between the crime and the dock. But look at these lonely houses, each in its own fields, filled for the most part with poor ignorant folk who know little of the law. Think of the deeds of hellish cruelty, the hidden wickedness which may go on, year in, year out, in such places, and none the wiser. Had this lady who appeals to us for help gone to live in Winchester, I should never have had a fear for her. It is the five miles of country which makes the danger."

Or maybe you were just unlucky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:54 AM
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S/b "Fudge ate Peter's turtle."

Am I in danger of having a stroke?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:55 AM
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I know a couple of people who've been mugged in NYC in recent years. In one case, it was a guy who regularly got so drunk he'd pass out on subway cars. I don't even know if that counts as a mugging.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:56 AM
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135: How did he know he was mugged? If you're passing out, waking up without your wallet isn't really proof that someone stole it from you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:57 AM
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Tales of a pregnant-grade nothing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:57 AM
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133: I grew up in suburbia.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:58 AM
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135: That sounds more like junior varsity pick-pocketing than mugging.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 8:59 AM
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136: JM didn't say he was drunk when he was mugged, LB. I think she just doubts that anyone who regularly gets so drunk he'd pass out on subway cars is capable of being mugged. Or if they are mugged, it doesn't really count. See the post from a few days ago about "easy" women.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:01 AM
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138: Smiling and beautiful suburbia? Because according to Holmes, that's the problem.

Seriously, I'd bet there's a sweet spot of density where you're most likely to get mugged, and NYC is denser than that. Assuming society hasn't totally broken down, you're most likely to get mugged on an empty street -- where it's just you and the person or group menacing you. I'd have to be out pretty late to be someplace where there weren't at least two groups of people in sight, mostly, which is protective. Someplace a little less dense is probably mugging-friendlier.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:02 AM
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(The above was Manhattan-centric; there are certainly subway platforms in Brooklyn and Queens where I would strongly prefer not to be at night.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:06 AM
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141: no, you're probably right, though you're crediting Holmes instead of Jane Jacobs. Although one incident did occur in a disturbingly crowded area. (But the population density becomes less inherently protective when it's the whole crowd mugging you.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:06 AM
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there are certainly subway platforms in Brooklyn and Queens where I would strongly prefer not to be at night

Are they crowded or deserted?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:07 AM
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That guy's stories didn't make much sense sometimes. He's now an associate at a fancy-schmancy midtown firm.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:08 AM
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Deserted. The thing about Manhattan is that even the sketchy bits of it are still very very dense. Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn, you get sketchy bits at slightly lower density, and that's what I find scary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:09 AM
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I don't think there are any other places in America as dense as Manhattan. You'd probably be afraid at night anywhere in Pittsburgh except the part right near the college campuses.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:11 AM
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Of course, what scares me isn't the same thing as what is objectively unsafe. I get mildly weird about sleeping on the first floor of single-family houses; being asleep right next to a ground level window seems unsafe. But that's just because I've been used to being eight stories above ground, with nothing outside my window but pigeons, all my life.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:14 AM
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Growing up in the country there was a fair amount of fear - probably more than necessary, but not to a really ridiculous degree - of car accidents and hunting accidents. And the house next door was rented out to students at a nearby law school for a time, and we all know that students are dangerous when drunk. Other than that, though, you were safe. If you weren't the victim of intentional violence from your own family on a regular basis, then you wouldn't be the victim of violence.

Any mugger lying in wait for someone on the street where I grew up would have to wear a bright orange vest for couple months every year, which kind of defeats the purpose.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:18 AM
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133: Holmes had it right. My experience of rural areas matches, anyway, in that crime was relatively uncommon but it also often went unreported and it seemed almost always went unsolved. There's a reason why cults and militias prefer the middle of nowhere and it ain't the fresh air.

As to Stanley, I think he did exactly right and shouldn't feel lame at all but I completely understand what he means and what Witt and others mean, as well, and have felt the same myself on occasion. I've never been anything even a little bit like mugged but on the occasions when I felt a weird vibe and altered my route, headed for a populated area, etc., I could hear that inner voice of Imprinted Masculinity telling me I was a big wuss. That voice, though, is the voice of an idiot; it is best ignored.

The closest I've gotten to being mugged, personally, to my knowledge, was in a monastery outside Moscow, and that wasn't even me; a couple of folks from our group ignored the warnings of our chaperone and wandered off to poke around the remote bits where they were tracked and menaced by a couple of locals until another chaperone found them and brought them back.

That said, for all I know I've been in dozens of dangerous situations but getting out of them quickly made the difference between weird vibe and active anecdote. Also, like ttaM, I am not exactly a small guy and though I can be a tremendous mincing queen I probably don't look that way from a distance.

In fact, even as I post this I have the feeling there's some incident from the past I've forgotten but at the moment there's nothing I can imagine. Scared on the streets of Russia in the late evening after a hotel security guard told me I'd get my throat slit if I went outside to smoke? Check, but nothing happened. Walked DC up and down in the middle of the night for sheer joy of walking? Check. Trespassed on countless country routes and run screaming when I found fresh mountain lion prints on a path I'd taken just five minutes before, going the other way? Check, but nope, can't think of a thing more serious than that.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:19 AM
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I do broadly agree with you, LB, but I think your your "[a]ssuming society hasn't totally broken down" might be too casually sweeping aside that possibility. I don't know Manhattan, but there are plenty of neighborhoods in plenty of other cities where this is absolutely the case (if not all the time, certainly late at night). Almost any place with concentrated gang activity, for one thing. There can be all sorts of people around, and absolutely no one interested in doing anything but averting their eyes to something untoward.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:19 AM
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re: 119

Oh sure. I have pretty good awareness for when things are about to kick off [or I used to
]. Quite often I'll be saying to friends "we should leave now" just a few minutes before things begin to get nasty. I've been teased about it a bit before.

It's often quite hard to explain just quite why now would be a good time to leave, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:20 AM
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Yeah, NYC was dense when Bernie Goetz was doing his thing, too. I agree that density makes me feel safer, but NYers are just more socialized not to commit crimes in front of people like they used to.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:23 AM
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151: Huh. Really, where you'd expect uninvolved bystanders to watch a mugging without interfering? (I'm not claiming that I'd expect strangers to throw themselves in the path of a bullet, but anything short of gunfire I'd expect interference.) That sort of thing -- getting mugged while bystanders avert their eyes -- I've always figured was a myth.

Even the Kitty Genovese story wasn't exactly true: my understanding is that the people who got abused for letting it happen mostly heard something but couldn't see what was going on out their windows. But it wasn't people on the street who saw it happen and kept on going by.

But I could be wrong; NY is pretty safe as big cities go.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:25 AM
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153: Even when Bernie Goetz was around, I was old enough to be riding the subway drunk (Kids! don't try this at home!), and didn't get in trouble. It was rougher than it is now, but not insanely so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:28 AM
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155: (I just checked the date and I'm lying. The Goetz thing was 84, and I wasn't riding the subway drunk until 86/87 at the earliest.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:29 AM
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Oh, I just remembered the time a few months ago when I think I caught someone scoping out our house for burglary but the guy got so scared when someone emerged from the shadows around the house (we have a lot of trees) already looking right at him that he ran away. Then I jumped in the Prius(!), called 911 and raced around our neighborhood trying to find the guy, to no avail. Teehee! OK, so sometimes the idiot voice of Imprinted Masculinity wins, after all.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:32 AM
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Frankly, LB, I feel a lot safer on a nearly-but-not-quite-deserted Brooklyn street than one in Manhattan. I had a student who was jumped near Madison Square Park at 11pm--not exactly deserted--and no one did a thing. But that was a trans-bashing, and people don't like to get involved, I guess. Another trans friend told me she feels a lot safer in her semi-abandoned part of Bay Ridge than in Manhattan, and gets accosted more in Manhattan, just because people in her neighborhood have seen her around. Maybe if one lived in Manhattan, one might feel that way, but socialization feels a lot looser to me there. When crazy shit goes down on the train, frex, people are more likely to actively intervene the further out from Manhattan they are.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:32 AM
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154: I was mugged by a group (gang?) of kids in the South Side of Chicago in 1986 -- it was in the evening and as I recall there weren't any other pedestrians around, but it wasn't deserted -- cars were driving by, etc. They hit me with a chain on the head a few times and demanded my wallet -- and while I hesistated (my Jack Benny moment?)
they panicked and ran away.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:35 AM
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I have to believe that the sense of safety has way more to do with the beholder than our actual ability to detect subtleties of situations.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:36 AM
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When crazy shit goes down on the train, frex, people are more likely to actively intervene the further out from Manhattan they are.

I was involved in an 'active intervention' on a train once, and it was amazing how many people just sat there and let stuff get out of hand.*

* I wasn't super-brave, some guy got up and said, "fuck it, I'm stopping this" [or something similar] and myself and another guy got up and followed him to help out...


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:36 AM
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Then I jumped in the Prius(!), called 911 and raced around our neighborhood trying to find the guy, to no avail. Teehee! OK, so sometimes the idiot voice of Imprinted Masculinity wins, after all.

In my class, we discuss the stupidity of running out of your house to stop someone from stealing your car, even if you have a gun.

"So, which body part can I shoot so you can save your car?"

"Do you feel bad for the insurance company when it loses money when your car gets stolen?"


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:36 AM
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re: 160

Not even sure i know what you mean?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:37 AM
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158: Certainly could be -- I was just talking about the odds of finding yourself someplace semi-deserted, rather than differences in passerby behavior once something started going down.

159: I knew a lot of people who got mugged in Hyde Park. I never did, but middle-of-the-afternoon bag-snatchings and such were very common when I was there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:39 AM
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In my class, we discuss the stupidity of running out of your house to stop someone from stealing your car, even if you have a gun.

I have a friend who forgot to put the emergency brake on his car, and when it started to roll backwards, he ran behind and decided to intervene Superman-style, and ran himself over.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:39 AM
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I think you have to be (combat-)conditioned to supress the normal 'I'm not causing problems here' impulses to react properly to someone behaving aggressively. Apparently Witt came by that supression by accident.

ttaM is correct as well: it is helpful to know when to fade in any given situation. Which means your basic anti-mugging defenses consist of being overly/annoyingly cautious/protective combined with potential instant aggressiveness.

I've never been mugged but I'm sure I give muggers bad vibe.

I've never seen much stranger crime (as opposed to friendish crime) in rural areas - the pickings are too thin and the risks (getting shot) are too dense. Suburbia is the prime target for house burglars and home invasion crap. Mugging seem like a specialized art: you gotta hunt where the ducks are, but in such a way so as to be able to get close in without getting getting caught. I'd imagine pickpocketing and shoplifting are more popular in urban areas.

max
['But the times are they are getting hard.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:40 AM
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160, 163: I'd bet Heebie's saying that while one person may feel safe on a given street, while another feels unsafe there, the difference is more likely to be in their heads rather than in any serious difference in the odds that one rather than the other will be targeted.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:40 AM
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162: The problem with just letting somebody steal your car is that if nobody does anything but say "It's insured" then car theft will become more common and your insurance will go through the roof. I say car theft rates at least a threatening gesture with the gun.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:41 AM
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164: Yeah, at 3am I'd rather be walking around in Manhattan than in Brooklyn, but if something's going to happen with people around, I'd rather be in Brooklyn.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:42 AM
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re: 167

Yeah, possible. But some people just are slightly better at knowing when stuff is going to happen, or recognizing bad areas. And the opposite, too.

I have a good friend, lovely guy, but he's somewhat in love with his image of his self as a bit 'gangsta' [the Scottish expression would be 'wide']. He's been mugged, robbed, beaten up and burgled several times. Primarily because he is just a total idiot at recognizing when bad things are likely to happen [but nevertheless believes himself to have really good 'spidey' senses].


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:46 AM
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163, 167: Right, more or less.

That we're not great at detecting the differences in danger level between walking through the parking garage in suburbia, walking through the rural woods behind the redneck bar, and standing on the abandaned subway platform. Our fear says a lot more about whether or not we were raised in suburban parking garages, rural woods full of hicks, or subway platforms, and how much we resemble the type of person you're likely to find there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:47 AM
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It's been legal for me to perv on Nastassja Kinski for 20 years now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:48 AM
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164: This was actually outside of Hyde Park -- I had needed to venture out of the (relative) safe zone to get my car from the garage where it had been towed after it broke down in Hyde Park.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:49 AM
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170, 171: I figure you're both right. Familiarity is huge (that is, canvassing for Obama in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, there were areas that made me very very nervous. But I don't have any judgment for what's a scary part of a small town -- I know what was scaring me, but I have no idea if I was being sensible. In NYC, my judgment's pretty good.), but for two people with the same familiarity with a given milieu, it's perfectly plausible that one's just going to have better instincts than the other.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:50 AM
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Damn. Windows fucked me up. Really. It's been temperamental and switching screens on me. Something is eating my physical memory.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:51 AM
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174: Sure, I'll buy that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:53 AM
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That we're not great at detecting the differences in danger level between walking through the parking garage in suburbia, walking through the rural woods behind the redneck bar, and standing on the abandaned subway platform. Our fear says a lot more about whether or not we were raised in suburban parking garages, rural woods full of hicks, or subway platforms, and how much we resemble the type of person you're likely to find there.

On that last point, aren't differences in danger levels themselves driven in part by how much we resemble the type of person you're likely to find there? (And also, to some extent, by "whether we were raised there", i.e., our general comfort level with the environment?)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:53 AM
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re: 174

Yeah. I think these things generalize a fair bit. Someone used to urban Paris is probably going to have a fairly good sense for what's dodgy in urban Berlin. But only up to a point.

My wife's village, for example, sets off all of my 'danger signals'; it's like the sort of rough as shit villages I know from Scotland, former mining towns and the like, where the aggregate level of violence is extremely high. But she assures me I am being paranoid.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:54 AM
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Another person I know who was mugged had someone follow her and accost her right in front of her building door. This was right off Grand Army Plaza in Park Slope, about three years ago. That's the classic scenario for Really Bad Things Happening To Women, when somebody gets to you right at your front door. Another female friend was held at knifepoint and threatened with rape and murder right inside her front door---that was in Paris.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:54 AM
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171: Which is also compatible with having a better sense of an area in which you are familiar. My mother was visibly nervous when she visited me (mostly about the speeds of the automobile traffic), and that I put down to lack of familiarity with the area, but I also believe that I'd be better at spotting a dangerous situation around here than she would.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:54 AM
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I say car theft rates at least a threatening gesture with the gun.

As long as you are ok with getting shot or having the neighbor's little kid shot while she sleeps when the bullets start flying, go ahead.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:55 AM
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canvassing for Obama in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, there were areas that made me very very nervous

What about them, if you don't mind? I'm curious.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:55 AM
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177: Sure. Yes. It's both in our heads and out of our heads.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:56 AM
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(I have this vague feeling that I'm sounding like a "There's no crime at all in Manhattan!" pollyanna. This is not the case -- there's probably a mugging every couple of months or so in the park I walk through to get to the subway. If that's what I was sounding like, dial it back to "There's little enough crime in Manhattan that it's not unusual to go your whole life without getting mugged." And while I haven't been mugged, I have been burgled, although that was in Brooklyn.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:58 AM
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181: Well, if you insist, pre-emptively shooting would avoid those problems.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:58 AM
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I've never seen much stranger crime (as opposed to friendish crime) in rural areas - the pickings are too thin and the risks (getting shot) are too dense.

This is very true. The one person I know whose house was burgled out in the country was shocked - complete with lines like, "You know, we hardly ever lock the door when we go anywhere because it's so safe out here," - but I knew of a lot of crimes committed within the realm of personal relationships but a lot of that sort of thing went unreported out of a sense that the law couldn't do anything if it wanted to or, sometimes, out of a sense that it was "private." I'm sure I've mentioned before that when I was in jr. high someone with whom I went to school essentially walked after murdering her abusive father in what the community judged to be, basically, delayed-reaction self-defense.

I also remember being kept inside when I was little because the feud between two related families in my area had turned hot and some of them were using the embankment at the bottom of our (long, steep) driveway as cover to take cross-eyed potshots at each other but they were all too stupid to hit anything so nobody every got hurt.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:59 AM
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182: Streets with a series of houses all in visible structural disrepair (like, a porch at a severe angle) and dogs on chains. I wasn't sure exactly what I was expecting bad to happen, but I was way, way, on the alert.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 9:59 AM
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if nobody does anything but say "It's insured" then car theft will become more common and your insurance will go through the roof

Car insurance rates are currently kept in check by a significant number of would-be victims confronting thieves? Really?


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:01 AM
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187: Are you scared to sleep on the ground level of a house because you're worried that the porch might buckle to a severe angle?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:02 AM
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there's probably a mugging every couple of months or so in the park I walk through to get to the subway.

If that's the park I'm thinking of, yes, that park sets off all of my ALERT DANGER ALERT signals. Great neighborhood, though.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:05 AM
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Dogs on chains are far less scary than dogs not on chains, IMO.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:05 AM
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188: I have no idea, but I do know that lots of car thefts in your area can make auto insurance higher.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:07 AM
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190: Stairs, walls, no clear lines of sight? Yep, it's a little nervous-making.

191: It's not so much being scared of the dogs --I'm pretty unphazed by dogs whether chained or unchained. (I may have gotten one vote for Obama by impressing a woman who came to the door and was clearly surprised that her Hound-of-the-Baskerville's-esque monster was fawning on me rather than having me treed in my car.) I, fairly or unfairly, think of people who have dogs chained in their yards (rather than indoors with them, or outdoors with them), as people who make me nervous.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:10 AM
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I do sympathize with 148. In fact, I'm a little freaked out by sleeping in a house with any windows on the ground floor, period, even if the bedrooms are upstairs. It just seems foolishly insecure.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:11 AM
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Unfazed, unfazed. Jesus, I'm so ashamed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:11 AM
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That's okay, LB.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:12 AM
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If the dogs' chains were fastened with padlocks, it is a good sign that either the neighborhood has a lot of theft or really intelligent dogs.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:15 AM
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168
The problem with just letting somebody steal your car is that if nobody does anything but say "It's insured" then car theft will become more common and your insurance will go through the roof.

Well, this is a collective action problem. If everybody who sees their car getting stolen from their driveway shrugs it off from now on, then eventually car theft will become somewhat more common. Not all that much, though. There are still plenty of disincentives in addition to the risk of being shot while being caught in the act, and even now that risk isn't all that high.

On the other hand, if everyone else threatens to shoot people stealing their cars except for us canny people at Unfogged, then we get the benefit of scared would-be thieves without the cost of dead neighbors' kids. So we defect and hope there aren't too many other people who do.

193
having me treed in my car

A vote for Obama or not, that sure would have impressed me.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:18 AM
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Dogs are in general unphased - if they tried to move each leg in phase, they'd fall down on their bellies.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:24 AM
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I also remember being kept inside when I was little because the feud between two related families in my area had turned hot

Wow, just wow. I always thought such things were totally made up.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:32 AM
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You're apparently unfamiliar with the current work being done with CASERs (Canine Amplification through Stimulated Emission of Rottweilers.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:32 AM
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"Stimulated Emission of Rottweilers"

That sounds like the worst job in the vet's artificial insemination lab.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:35 AM
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I feel left out. I've been distinctly uncomfortable a number of times, largely in Berkeley and Oakland but also in smaller suburban areas, but never to the point that I think I actually was in real danger. Not even wandering around the south side of Philadelphia alone and late at night. Or walking back drunk to my apartment, alone. Then again, I'm a fairly solidly built woman who tends to walk aggressively when I'm alone and yet acknowledges people, so perhaps people presume that I'm not a great target.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:37 AM
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203: Why left out? You're on the same bench with at least me and Cala, maybe more.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:40 AM
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204: True, true - I have no idea why I'd want to be the victim of a crime, anyhow. I wonder if there's any similarity between you, Cala and I in terms of street behavior, or if it is just chance.

I'm always amazed that I've never experienced any sort of crime beyond having my stereo stolen out of my car when I stupidly left the car unlocked in a very bad neighborhood (I think I deserved to have it stolen for that). One of my friends, a solidly built Army guy, has been mugged, once at gunpoint, multiple times and the victim of every kind of theft I can think of. I think that some people really are just unlucky.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:45 AM
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My wife and I were pretty clearly sized up for a mugging one evening in Pasadena. We did the side switching thing a couple times and then dodged into the Borders nearby. It was gritty, like the Wire made real.


Posted by: Tj | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:46 AM
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Ironically, Winchester is now a relatively small town/city in the countryside, and is more dangerous in terms of random street violence than the vast majority of London. Mainly because it has an army barracks, a shitload of pubs and posh students. Not a good mix.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:54 AM
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207 to 132.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 10:55 AM
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205: I personally put it down to luck. Short white chicks like me don't exactly radiate "don't fuck with me."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:08 AM
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Mmm. I'm a tallish woman, but clearly not into anyone's 'don't fuck with me' category. Barring aggressive hobbits or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:10 AM
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I personally put it down to luck. Short white chicks like me don't exactly radiate "don't fuck with me."

Wear a shirt: "My Husband blows stuff up."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:24 AM
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I am waiting for the day when consecutive comments by Cala and LizardBreath both begin with "Mmm."


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:25 AM
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Verbal tics are fun!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:26 AM
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Not even a little unlikely. I've noticed that I have an unsightly habit of thoughtlessly picking up an initial word from a comment a couple before mine and echoing it -- if someone opens with "Well," there's a good shot I will too.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:27 AM
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I think that for a couple months after my friend nearly got raped and killed, I walked around with a perceptible "don't fuck with me" vibe, despite my not being particularly prepossessing on a physical level. It was perhaps my determination to beat the living shit out of the next person who talked to me that prevented anyone from talking to me. Or maybe it was a statistical anomaly!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:35 AM
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my not being particularly prepossessing on a physical level.

Don't sell yourself short, dude.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:35 AM
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I presume mine is luck as well, but you never know.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:39 AM
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187: The first sentence constitutes a pretty good description of most of my road when I was growing up (my parents are/were pretty posh by local standards but middle class by American standards overall). I wouldn't exactly have felt at home there but I doubt I would have been afraid. I take this as confirmation of heebie's statements above.

200: Totally true. They were all distant cousins to one another, and one side in the feud really did all live in one little hollow and greet outsiders with open hostility. My hometown also used to have a big, huge, inbred family that all lived in one enormous, ramshackle, multi-generational home that one day was abruptly left sitting empty. One day they were there, the next day they were gone. I've never found out where they went or what happened. The house is still standing and still abandoned.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:39 AM
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Maybe I stack up better against Frenchmen, but I'm no brawler, really.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:41 AM
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218: That's awesome as an observer and probably objectively not awesome if you're part of those families. The worst poverty I've ever seen was in North Carolina and Georgia Appalachia but I didn't get a sense of any stereotypical Southern/hillfolk behavior along those lines. (But then again, I was an interloper, just visiting my grandparents, not growing up in the region).

And was that family the basis for one of the creepiest X-Files episodes ever, or is that just coincidence?


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:46 AM
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219: (I was being snippy about your usage. At least in my dialect, and I think conventionally, 'prepossessing' means pretty, not formidable. On the formidableness front, I figure we're fairly level, which means that neither of us is terribly likely to scare anyone.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:46 AM
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204 - And me.

The house is still standing and still abandoned.

BURN IT! BURN IT! BURN IT!

I'm not so sure I think that passersby will intervene if something happens. I've made a decision to do that, because I believe I should. It gets tested once or twice a year and every time, I have to consciously force myself to act. A girlfriend of mine says she can't help but stand up for people and break up fights, that she's facing down some guy before she thinks about it. But I literally think the words "Kitty Genovese" and make myself move. If I hadn't put thought in before hand, I know I'd freeze up.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:49 AM
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I've had someone try to mug me in the Cleveland bus station (did a poor imitation of police, ran after getting up). I was mugged by kids from rival neighborhoods pretty frequently growing up.

The north side of Paris is scary IME. Constant assessment of weakness and likely value by packs of young guys who look to be in good shape physically.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 11:59 AM
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At least in my dialect, and I think conventionally, 'prepossessing' means pretty, not formidable.

[Checks usage guide] Fuck! How long have I been mixing that up?!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:02 PM
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I've always felt more scared in Polish cities than NYC. My impression is that muggings, especially with guns are a lot rarer, but folks beating you up for the hell of it are much more common and I know which I prefer.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:02 PM
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Though talking about NYC, I did engage in one very embarrassing incident of racial profiling back when I lived in Manhattan. Coming home late one night I notice a young black man, baggy pants, cap, the etc looking at me. I turn into a street, he does the same. Ditto for the next one. I walk up to my building and start opening the door, he runs up behind me to get in before it closes and starts following me up the stairs. I pause in front of my apartment door, he stops next to me. At this point I'm absolutely convinced I'm about to be mugged. He turns out to be a friend of my neighbours. Ooops.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:07 PM
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I don't think it's unreasonable not to want strangers not to follow you into your building. There are call buttons for a reason, and I don't know if this "friend" is an invited guest (in which case, uh, call button), a stalker, a lying stranger, or what.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:11 PM
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I did tons of canvassing over the course of the last year, including in some very poor areas. After dark I felt a bit nervous, but the only times I felt genuinely scared was when I was actually threatened. E.g. Guy opens door, points to NRA sticker, points to gun, points to me, says 'scram' - I do. Or mr. serial killer from central casting opens door in small town redneck NW MO, I do my spiel, he answers in a very quiet monotone voice "In this house... we... think of folks who...' (looks at my nametag) work for Obama as... baby ... killers. So... I would recommend... that you get away from this house... as quickly as possible'. Me, backing away 'I guess I can put you down as a McCain voter then?'.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:13 PM
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I'm not so sure I think that passersby will intervene if something happens.

Much like the Capt. Sully/passenger who freaked plane stuff, most of us hope that we never get truly tested.

I was at a restaurant/bar and a drunk guy started getting upset because a girl decided to leave after he had been buying drinks for her all night.

We could hear him get louder and see him get more upset. It was difficult deciding whether intervention was necessary. Finally, when he grabbed her arm, another guy intervened and grabbed the very drunk guy. The very drunk guy swung at him, and the other guy dropped him. Blood went everywhere.

Of course, I was about to jump in. Of course. Fortunately, I didnt have to do it.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:16 PM
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227 True, but if it had been a grad student looking white guy, or a woman of any race, I wouldn't have been as worried. Though profiling is somewhat area specific. In Germany and Poland my instincts warned me of young white guys with very short hair. Non whites equaled safe.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 12:40 PM
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This is just generalizing from my personal reaction, but I think Kitty Genovese means a lot less for people under, say, 30.

I'm 26, and when I first learned about her and the societal reaction, yeah, the story was surprising, but it happened about 20 years before I was born than I am in a place known for violence in general, so I didn't think too much of it. It's horrible that she died like that, of course, but so is lots of stuff. I didn't get the impression on my own that it was any worse or any better-known than the "white girl gone missing" news stories we see on the news all the time.

So I thought it was just a human tragedy news story from a previous generation. But some time since graduating from college I read a couple references to it in different bits of fiction. One of them used Genovese's murder as the jumping-off point for commentary about alienation in modern life and stuff. That made me realize that, hey, this was actually a big deal and colored how people thought about modern/urban/whatever life.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 1:07 PM
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I like this:

ATM Strategy

Just act like you're more capable of random violence than the other guy.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 02-23-09 2:02 PM
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