I hate going to the mall but I had to, if I wanted to get my phone repaired. As I drove around the parking lot searching for an open space, something occurred to me. I’d like to share it.
I have to begin by reminding you that I am a woman. I also have a bum knee right now and am mostly hobbling. I’m not ancient but I’m older… entering into what I call my “Third Act” of life (nearly sixty). I was tired, frustrated, and more than a little frazzled, since I had already spent four hours trying to get my darned phone fixed. I also wasn’t sure where the store I needed was located… just that it was inside the mall. I parked near the middle, reasoning that at least I wouldn’t have to walk the entire length of the mall should the store be on one end or the other.
I saw an open space but it was next to an older van with one of those side-panel sliding doors. I never park next to them. That’s point one.
I kept searching and finally, was able to get a spot relatively close to the door, though the lot is huge and it still meant I’d be doing a fair bit of walking before I got to the cross walk. I got out, looked around and began my limpy journey. That’s when I saw a man walk out from between two cars. That’s point two.
I walked faster (as much as possible, considering) and instinctively put my keys between my fingers… without really thinking about it. Point three.
As I crossed the cross walk to the mall entrance, I saw a man crouching in a crevice, smoking a cigarette. He was looking at me. I turned my head so we wouldn’t lock eyes. Point four.
After I had my phone repaired, the journey back to the car was much like the journey in. I scanned the lot, noticed people and vehicles, and was on hyper-alert. Point five.
What is my point with all these points?
What I did is what many women do… every moment of every day in big and small ways. Had I been with my husband, I might have noticed the van in a periphery way but I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed the man walking or even the crouching cigarette smoker. I wouldn’t have tried to hurry… in or out. It would have been an entirely different journey.
This is the reality for most women I know; especially those in their Third Act. Many of us don’t move as quickly, have health concerns, and have been acquainted with more than one overpowering man at some point in our lives. Some of us have been molested, accosted or raped. Too many of us.
I’m not jumping on a soapbox because of the recent (very public) allegations of sexual misconduct or the “Me, Too” movement. But the timing is apropos. For many women (and some men – safety isn’t gender-specific, obviously) any conversation about self-help also needs to include a discussion about safety. It is the reality.
(We touched on safety in this earlier post but that’s the only link I’m sharing today. It is, after all, an “Easy Sunday”.)
It just occurred to me that women (especially) intuitively do certain things that most men would (most-likely) never do. Being on hyper-alert is one of them… and it is a daily, hourly, moment-to-moment way of life for many of us. We don’t even realize we’re doing it.
It behooves us to take the best care of ourselves as we can — for many reasons. Sadly, one of those reasons may be to protect ourselves from those who may wish to harm us.
I’m not sure if there’s an iron-clad answer to this. I figure I’ll be doing just what I’ve been doing so far… staying vigilant and doing my best to protect myself. It occurs to me that anxiety is tied into this… and no wonder! No wonder.
I still believe in the goodness of people. I believe I will be safe when I go out. I’d go crazy if I let the fear rule me. But it’s just interesting, I think, how we instinctively do things without even realizing it. Until we do. That day, I did. And I wanted to share.
Just something I’m thinking about today…