This morning was the first time I've been afraid in my neighborhood. Make that the second. The first was when someone tried to let himself in my apartment to sell me magazines at 4:30am. Don't worry, he didn't make it inside and my threat of calling the police made him stagger off into the pre-dawn morning. I really don't think he was even a real magazine salesman, so either he was up to no good, really confused, or sleep walking.
I tell myself he was sleepwalking...it helps.
But, back to this morning. As I set out for my morning jog at 5:15am, I noticed a man limping down the street. When he saw me, he stopped walking and sort of stood there trying to look nonchalant. Epic fail. This only make me suspicious of him. Then, I saw another man walking up, a few feet behind the limping, posing man. He was taller and decidedly not limping. Seconds before, I'd comforted myself with the thought that, while I may not be fast at all, I was pretty sure I could out run a limping man...knowing he had a partner dashed that little bit of confidence-inspiring thought.
So, I turned on my nonchalant, and continued toward my regular path, but kept one eye and one ear turned behind me. Then I stopped and pretended to fix my sock and saw they were coming my way. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. While I'm pretty sure neither of them could have picked me up and carried me off into the sunrise, they could put a hurting on me...or at the very least, steal my beloved iPhone.
I quickly thought about how I might ward off their attack...
Judo chop? No. I"m too short.
Kah-rah-tay? Nope. No skills...and my nun chucks were in my other running shorts.
Challenge them to a dance battle? Nah. None of us had the proper shoes.
Then, it came to me. I'd charge them. I'd play crazy and yell and scream and basically go off on them. They'd be so taken a back, they'd back off. Or, the neighbors would come out and save me.
Yep...that was a good plan and I was sticking with it. So I turned and started walking in their direction, preparing myself to pull out all the crazy stops. Then, no doubt sensing my "aggressive energy" (as the Dog Whisperer would say), they turned and went the other way. And so did I. All in all, I only lost 2 minutes of my jogging time...but my lip, my virtue and my iPhone were intact.
Whew! Another "Single White Female..." headline has been averted.
This sort of fear and survival strategizing are not normal for me. I've been babysitting since I was 11 and have lived alone for the better part of the past decade. I can't and won't be afraid all the time. If I need to jog at 5:15am or 10pm, I do it. I get gas or park wherever, whenever. I walk to my car with my arms loaded down with bags often. I do not own mace.
But, I'll also be very glad when we "spring forward" and my morning jogs will be accompanied by fear-fighting sunlight...and I wouldn't say no to a running partner if the opportunity presented itself.