Hello, longtime lurker, 1st-time poster!
Here's something that happened to me tonight that made me re-think a few things. I don't have a CW permit yet because I haven't been in-state long enough (6 mos. residency requirement in TX) but I have been "practicing" in anticipation of getting the permit next month. I've been paying more attention to my surroundings, Mexican-carrying my Glock 30 with a full mag and empty chamber around the house (I don't have a holster yet), and reading forums like this one.
Now tonight there was a scenario that made me think a bit. I have some ideas about what I did wrong, but please tell me what else I might learn from this.
Tonight my S.O. and I went out grocery shopping, and then we stopped at a small gas station, one of these little strip-like stations affiliated with a large grocery store chain. Time was about 7:30, but dark because of the time change. The station was well-lit, and quite busy, with lots of people going in and out of the small store, and as we pulled up I saw an employee coming out to help a Mexican guy fill a jerry can at the pump, etc. The point being that this wasn't a dark, secluded, "scary"-feeling place. It is on a shady side of the tracks (south of I-30 at NW 19th street in Grand Prairie, if anybody knows the area) but it wasn't anyplace lonely. There were probably twenty-five people within the space of this small lot, all going in and out.
We pull up at the far right pump on the outside pump (others were full) facing the store. She's driving, I'm a passenger; I can't drive at night because of eyesight issues. I stayed belted in because I felt lazy and, again, this place didn't feel dangerous, although as usual I kept my head on a swivel as best I could. GF is now outside the car on the left rear, about to start pumping gas.
I look up - my head was down in the cockpit for some reason, I think adjusting my wallet - and I see this young Hispanic guy with a light gray hooded sweatshirt on coming right at the front left corner of the car, maybe five yards away max. He sees me look right at him, I size him up, I have my hand behind my right hip, right about where my G30 will be next month
purely by coincidence, and he says, very friendly, "Whasup" and waves. Then he walks past the left side of the car, right up to my GF as she's about to lift up the gas pump, and I see he's got his hands full with some kind of yellow flyer, I figure for a nightclub or something. She sees him, he says a few words, then she waves him off and he quickly walks back the way he came, out into the parking lot, and meets up with another young guy who is NOT wearing hoodlum clothes.
They walk over to the front entrance of the store and continue trying to hand out flyers to passers-by.
When GF got back in the car, I asked "What were the flyers for?" It turns out they were for a church event. I said that I saw him coming when he got close but he was TOO close for comfort, and (hypocritically!) I wanted to chastise her for being taken by surprise. I'm trying to butter her up to get herself a CW permit as well, because we're both not physically intimidating, and we're both a bit, shall we say, "geeky". I figure we're both targets, and we also live near some crummy areas. She said that she saw him coming too but there wasn't much time to react. We discussed things and she said that I should have hit the horn on the car to alert her, which is our warning signal for when one of us is in the car and another is at the ATM. Better yet, I shouldn't have been inside the car and belted up the first place. We also realized that she was armed, in a sense; she had the gas pump in her hand.
Now, here's what I take away from this:
1. I shouldn't have been in the car. Normally when we gas up somewhere, I'm outside with her, keeping watch. No half-measures ever again; I was lazy. Keeping watch from inside the car with my belt on just means I'm a spectator, not an actor, should something bad happen. It was pure Complacency on my part.
2. This guy should have never gotten that close to us without either one of us laying eyes on him early. "Lose sight, lose the fight". I think he came from behind the line of gas pumps, which is why he was blocked from both of our views, but this issue probably would have been negated if I was following point #1 above.
3. I wasn't prepared to warn my GF, or do anything about this guy at all, should his intentions have been hostile. His body language was non-hostile and his hands were full, but regardless, he still walked right up to my girl without being challenged or noticed.
Also, if I'm ever going to hand out church flyers, I'm not going to do it at a gas station, after dark, wearing a hooded sweatshirt. A few minutes later this guy wised up and took his hood down in exchange for a hat. It is cool here in TX right now, but he was dressed like a BG. If he had been intent on harm, I couldn't have ID'd him other than "Hispanic, mustache, between 18-25", light gray sweatshirt".
What say you Paranoid Soldiers of Darkness?
Sometimes you can't totally avoid being vulnerable, and pumping gas is one of those times, I think. I'm interested to hear what strategies people may have for this situation.