May 4, 2012

In Case of Emergency, Pray

I love being a girl. I love makeup and dresses and shoes. I love chatting with my girlfriends and getting weepy at movies. I love that it's socially acceptable for me to know squat about my car and have to rely on a guy to fix it. Yes, being a girl definitely has its perks. Of course, it also has a few negatives, such as that unwanted monthly visitor and PMS and childbirth. And makeup and hairstyles and getting weepy at movies. But one of the toughest things about being a female is always having to be alert. We are taught that women are the easier targets and so, at a young age, we are also taught how NOT to be a victim.

Once you get your driver's license and become independent, things get even tougher. Getting gas becomes a chore with tucking your purse out of sight while at the pump. If you have to go in and pay, you take that purse and your keys with you and you always check your back seat before you climb in lest you've acquired an unwanted visitor who is hiding back there. Going shopping? NEVER go to your car with your arms loaded. Wear your purse over your shoulder and tucked tightly under your arm. Shoulders back, head up, keys in hand, constantly scan your surroundings while making eye contact with every person you see.

When I was in middle school and high school, our city had a big gang problem. One of the popular ways for a new recruit to be initiated in a gang was for him to hide out under a car at the mall. When the unsuspecting driver stood at the door to unlock it, the recruit would then slash the driver's Achilles tendon. So in addition to the crowd scanning, back seat checking, I-am-not-a-victim routine, we now had to add checking under the car.

It's no wonder I've grown up so paranoid. See, I have this secret hobby. I like to plan out and prepare for worst-case-scenario/disaster events. I don't mean that I have an underground bunker or that I stash freeze dried food in case of a zombie apocalypse or anything. No, what I do is anytime I find myself in a situation that has a 1 in 20 billion chance of turning into some kind of nightmarish event, I think, "What would I do?" For example, when I was first married and unemployed, I would wait until MC was off to work and then I would soak in a hot shower with the radio on. I made sure the house was all locked up so no one could get in. But, what if someone did get in? I would need some kind of weapon. It wasn't unusual for me to shower with MC's hockey stick or a hammer close by. Do you see what I mean?

Another example (and this one is pretty recent) happened while I was in the car. I was delivering a new piece of glass to my friend. I had this 2ft sheet of glass just propped against the passenger seat while I was driving. I looked over and it occurred to me that if I got in some kind of accident or had to swerve suddenly, that glass could easily slide across the seat and slice through my leg. So I mentally prepared myself. "What would I do?" Well, assuming it didn't cut through my femoral artery, I would have a little bit of time before I passed out from blood loss. I'd need a tourniquet. I don't wear a belt but I did have a long winter scarf on the seat next to me. And I'd have to call 911. Was my phone close enough that I would be able to reach it after I'd stemmed the bleeding?

These are the things that routinely go through my head. I haven't shared this with many people, but I DO know that I am not the only one. So you would think that with all my disaster preparedness I'd be great in times of crisis. HA! That is so patently false as to make me laugh. I am horrible in a crisis. Everything I've ever learned or been taught flies right out the window and I just stand there, mouth gaping open like a fish, while everyone else around me scurries into action. The only time I can say I've actually been proactive during a moment of crisis was the one time I shouldn't have been proactive.

I was at home in my split level house, just me and Howdy (who was a baby at the time), when I heard a noise downstairs, someone was moving around down there. My heart jumped into my throat as all these horrible thoughts flashed across my mind like the news ticker on CNN. Theft. Rape. Torture. Murder. Someone was in my house and it could only be bad news. I was terrified. I don't own a gun, I don't know any self-defense moves, and I had a sleeping baby. What should I do?

I couldn't just sit there and do nothing so I relied on my fall back emergency plan--I called my sister, who lived 2 houses down at the time. I told her what was going on, and then I told her I had a plan. I was going to get a knife from the kitchen and go downstairs TO. INVESTIGATE. (Yeah, you read that right. I told you I'm useless in a crisis.) I left the phone off the hook so she could call 911 if she heard me screaming (Seriously. That was part of my plan.), and then I went and grabbed the biggest knife I could find.

Let's just pause here for a moment. See, I had an upstairs balcony with stairs that led to the backyard. I could've scooped up Howdy and made it to my sister's without the intruder ever knowing I was gone, and then I could've called the police to come out and do a drive by. But no, not me. Knife in hand, I creep downstairs, forgetting the fact that if you approach an intruder with a weapon that weapon is most likely to be turned against you. What I would've done in the face of an actual madman intent on doing me harm I'll thankfully never know because it turned out to be merely my husband. He had forgotten some tools and he popped in to grab them. He didn't shout up at me when he came in because he was worried about disturbing me and the baby. I got scolded after I explained why I was carrying a knife, and I had to reassure my sister that I wasn't being murdered while she waited on the phone, but all was well.

So, am I paranoid? Yes, I've been trained to be. Am I well-equipped to handle an emergency? Let's just say that I hope your life is never in my hands. (Maybe that's why I harbor secret fantasies of being a kick-a** warrior chick who can take out the bad guys without breaking a nail or a sweat.) And while I may grumble about some of the things I have to deal with as a girl, I am forever grateful that as a girl I am expected to run from trouble while it is the guys who are expected to run toward it.


  1. I think this is a normal thing. At least for me it seems to be normal. What is not normal is that I do have a plan in case of a zombie apocalypse, a horrible epidemic, and even if I survived a end of the world disaster. :)

  2. Why am I not surprised that you are prepared for a zombie apocalypse? :)