There won’t be an Oscar or an Emmy for it. There won’t be a round of applause from onlookers or a rave review of your performance by some self-proclaimed critic. No one is going to tell their friends what a great actor you are.

In fact, if anyone does say anything about you, it will probably be a giggle-infested discourse on what a doofus you were and that they were at one point in time watching intently for the big guys in the white coats to come take you far, far away.

I know, you’re probably wondering what in the world I’m talking about, right? Well, did you ever think about what you would do if you walked headlong into a robbery (shame on you for not paying attention), and were suddenly looking down the wrong end of a gun? And worse yet, it was obvious from the look on the guy’s face that you were not in control and that there is no way that you would survive an attempt at reaching for your weapon? I know it’s a really stinky scenario to consider but a realistic one. What do you do?

You can comply. But what if compliance is not an option? What if compliance would give the bad guy access to your family? What if compliance to his demand that you empty out your pockets means that your weapon could be exposed? He’d probably kill you before you had a chance to empty out your pockets.

 Now’s the time to put on your acting face and start your scared little 10-year-old routine. It has to be believable, but if you start carrying on and freaking out like you’re about to wet yourself, and feigning compliance, the bad guy isn’t likely to think much about you reaching into your pocket, supposedly to empty it, until he realizes that what you pulled out wasn’t the money he wanted but a small secondary weapon. And before he has time to think, “Oh crap!” you deliver three or four rounds into his belly as you move to a more defensible position and draw your primary weapon in case he can still fight or he has a buddy that you still need to deal with.

Or let’s say that you are walking out of your friendly neighborhood supermarket one night and you just don’t have a good feeling about your surroundings. The hair on the back of your neck is doing a wiggyjig and you know you need to check but you don’t want that guy behind you to think you are paranoid if you are wrong. You really need to evaluate whether or not it’s a real threat without freaking anybody out.

That’s when you freak out and start patting yourself down like you think you might have forgotten your keys or something. And as you turn around to head back to the store to get them, you and this guy are now face to face and you can make a more realistic determination of whether he is threat or not. If he just laughs at your nerdiness and continues toward his car, then you and your imagination may need to have a little chat. But, if your wiggyjigging neck hairs are right, you and he are now face to face, and you can deal with him accordingly. 

Here’s one of my favorites…it’s not uncommon to see someone pacing through a parking lot trying to find their car or walking down the sidewalk and suddenly turn around as they realize they are headed the wrong direction or they just remembered or forgot something. Acting lost and taking the scenic route to your car while checking for lurking threats is a great way to get a few seconds of exercise and also to make sure the way is clear to get into your car unmolested. This one is particularly useful because if someone is lying in wait, their hiding place is easily compromised. Or, if they are following you, it becomes blatantly obvious that they are and you can, again, deal with them accordingly.

Now I’m not saying that these little games are the answer to a given situation, but I hope they offer a broader scope of possible solutions to a potentially life-threatening situation. A wise man once said that if you can ever learn to laugh at yourself, you will never run out of material. And after performances like these, you’d better be laughing at yourself. Because everyone else will be.

Besides, what is life if you can’t have a little fun? There are so many subtle, fun ways to influence people. If you want to keep the bad guys away, you can either strap an Uzi under your arm, and live with the frequent and fruitless discussions with local law enforcement, or you can find little ways to keep the bad guys off balance and unsure of their intended target while you get some exercise and have a little chuckle along the way. You should laugh at yourself for how silly you must look. Or you might be able to laugh at the “I want my mommy!” look on some guy’s face when he realizes too late that you aren’t quite as dumb as you look.

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