Do you ever hear that little voice? The one that tells you, “Don’t!” in the moments before you do some ultimately regrettable and overtly stupid thing, and suffer for it? Whether you are reaching just a little farther to paint that one small place on the house without getting down to move the ladder, or trying to ease the car through that space that just might be a little too narrow, or prying just a wee bit harder on some object with a screwdriver tip dangerously near some body part? Do you always think back while sitting in the ER or lying on the ground in pain, or staring at the fender crease, “Something told me not to do that…”
Ihave a valid CCW permit but the fact is sometimes I carry and sometimes I don’t. It is easier in the winter, for obvious reasons, although the deep pockets of carpenter’s pants or the loose fit of cargo pants do offer a little help even in the sweltering heat and humidity of the southern summers. Still, when just making a fast run to the grocery store or the home supply warehouse store, the inclination is often to leave the gun at home. But on this particular afternoon, that little voice, which I have learned slowly and painfully to heed, urged me to include my snubby and pocket holster in my afternoon errand wardrobe.
Everything went smoothly at the store; no gangs of thugs or freaks in black trenchcoats menaced me. The sky was clear, the birds were singing, the summer sun was shining, and all was fine. I was loading things into the back of my old jeep, minding my business and looking forward to getting home and out of the heat. I thought that I was being alert. Then, he appeared from around the passenger’s side of the vehicle, suddenly emerging from the space between two vans parked one row ahead of me.
Probably early 20s, short blonde hair, tank top, very baggy jeans, hands in pockets. He mumbled something indistinct, shuffling closer to me, and saying something about keys. I was already keenly aware that he was within striking distance and started backing away, when his hand came out of his right pocket with an open lockback knife. I was still backing up when he repeated his earlier sentence, which, it turns out, was a rather unpleasant demand for my keys.
Naturally, my mind was racing and I said something to the effect of, “Hey, I don’t want any trouble,” and as I was speaking, my own right hand slipped into my right pants pocket and produced a surprise for him, not a set of keys but my .38 snubby. In spite of an abundance of adrenaline pumping, I was unusually calm. Time seemed to slow down.
Backing a few feet further away, to avoid any desperation moves on his part, I told him to drop the knife, and he did so, and as I was reaching with my left hand to get to my cell phone, he took off at high speed, running to a side street parallel to the parking lot and disappearing beneath an overpass to the nearby highway. Obviously I was not going to shoot at him or give chase (not being as young as I once was) but I did report the incident to the store’s security office with a description of the young man. Honestly, I did not expect he would be around there again, but preparedness is always an asset.
I suppose the lesson that I learned from this is to listen more closely to that little voice, and although avoiding fear or paranoia, to be alert and aware of my surroundings, even on bright, hot summer afternoons in parking lots.