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Old April 10, 2005, 08:48 PM   #1
snacktrack
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When does situational awareness become paranoia?

Having just gotten my CCW permit, I have conditioned myself to carry no matter what. Even if I got take the trash out in sweatpants, I will carry. I even carry inside the house. Really I only take the gun off my person when I go to sleep. Then I sit the gun on my nightstand, which sits partially behind a curtain.

When I am walking around, since I live in the city everyone is a potential threat to me. Especially people coming up and asking for money. I notice that I look behind me constantly now, and decide to cross the street to avoid walking by anyone who looks like trouble to me. I will also put my hand on my grip when I am walking to the alleyway to my door, a good place to get jumped. I never used to do any of this before getting my permit.

So my question is, when is too much? Am I worrying myself crazy thinking everyone is a possible threat. And for those who have carrying a long time, is it a paranoia that calms down after a while? Thanks for the replies.
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Old April 10, 2005, 08:59 PM   #2
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I wouldn't call it paranoia, yet. Paranoia is when you won't leave the house if you can't take your gun. Paranoia is when you don't go places you are not allowed to carry a gun in, because you wouldn't have your gun with you. I carry all the time also, just like you described. The other day I was at Walmart and in the parking lot, a bum came up to me, the first thing I wanted to do was go for my weapon (Walmart is in not such a great area) but then I thought about it and realized that he probably just wants money. I also walk away from somebody who I think could be trouble, and I am also suspicious of everybody. I haven't been carrying that long, so I wouldn't be able to tell you if the paranoid feeling goes away or not, but I felt like this even before I was carrying. I don't look at my weapon as piece of mind either, because I think that would make me too tempted to use it.
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Old April 10, 2005, 08:59 PM   #3
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Planning for contingencies is good...

...preparing to deal with violence is good. If you and your significant other start doing bounding overwatches to the grocery store, well.....
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Old April 10, 2005, 09:16 PM   #4
Joe Demko
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Yer paranoid, dood. Mebbe it's coz yer new to toting a gun. Were you like this before you started carrying? No? Then ease off a bit.
Situational awareness is good. Choosing not to visit potentially dangerous regions is good. Having yourself in a constant state of adrenalin dump is not good.
I've been carrying for 22 years and done some LE along the way as well. Please try to remember that the world is the same place after you got CCW as it was before.
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Old April 10, 2005, 09:24 PM   #5
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Paranoia is being afraid people are out to get you when they're not.

Situational awareness is knowing what's happening around you so you can react intelligently if you need to.

Being afraid without reason is not the same thing as being aware/prepared.

On the other hand, you can be paranoid and rationalize it as situational awareness.

Do you watch people to determine what they're doing? Do you monitor your surroundings to keep from being taken by surprise? Do you carry to enhance your safety? Do you think about situations so you can react quickly and intelligently? If this sounds like you then you are situationally aware and not paranoid.

Do you watch people around you to see which ones might want to hurt you? Do you carry a firearm because you're uncomfortable and uneasy without one? Do you worry about what might happen in certain situations? If this is a better description of your attitude then you might be leaning towards paranoia. Especially if you find yourself modifying your behavior/lifestyle/overall circumstances in a substantial way to allay your fears/discomfort/worries.
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Old April 10, 2005, 09:59 PM   #6
45 Fu
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If nothing ever happens = you were paranoid.

If something ever happens = you are prepared.

Take your pick.
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Old April 10, 2005, 10:45 PM   #7
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From the DSM IV: When a person is suspicious of people and situations, and that suspiciousness has no basis in reality, he/she is said to be experiencing paranoia.

Paranoia is a loaded term with all the stigma of mental illness. As such it is percieved as a negative in our society. Whether you are paranoid or not has as much to do with how your thoughts affect your life as what they are about. If your concerns permanently prevent you from enjoying life as fully as you otherwise might, you have a problem. What 45fu stated sounds glib, but it is actually very true.

When a person first begins to carry a gun, they have many unfamiliar feelings. Some feel everyone just knows they have a gun. Others constantly fear that they may have to use it. Still others give everyone the once over to determine if THEY might be carrying.

Over time you will tend to forget about the gun and your life will become more normal. Picking up the gun will be as natural as putting your wallet in your pocket. Then, you will become like me. If I forget the gun (it's happened a couple of times) Once I realize it's not there, I feel like I have to stop whatever I am doing and go get it. Much the same as forgetting your wallet.

Carrying the gun has made you much more focused on the possibility of having to use it. Discussions on this forum and possibly other forums you may be a member of have given you the awareness of what can happen if you must use it. So, naturally, you try to avoid a situation where you might. All of that is good. Sooner or later though, as you continue to adjust, you will tend to forget about the gun until you truely need it. Just like your keys or your wallet though, if you need it, you will reach for it naturally.

I wouldn't say you are paranoid. I would say you are adjusting to the responsibility of carrying a weapon rather well.
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Old April 10, 2005, 10:52 PM   #8
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Paranoid?

Maybe a bit. Ease up some. Yes you should analize everyone for threat potential. and decide the level of threat. Most people are not. homeless are beggers not muggers. All the incidents i know of where a homeless became a threat was after the initial meeting. if they approach you just say no before they get close and they will leave. say it firmly and with conviction. if that work doesn't say "back OFF". only then would I prepare for condition redaand back off faster. I suspect you need to practice "reading people" i suspect you are more aware after you started to carry and are seeing things you didn't before and it's shading your view. If you see some teens wearing "colors" across the pakting lot playing their music too high they are not an immediate threat but I wouldn't approach them either just give them a wide berth. If when you return they are leaning on your car, you have a problem. do not approach them, call the law. when returning home and you think the walk from your car is dangerous, why do you live there? how long have you lived there? have you ever been attacked there? just being observant should be enough to avoid a violent confrontation. If you ever pull that pistol your in deep do-do. it's a last resort thing. There is a thing about new ccw people that tend to make them want to touch it all the time it's a normal reaction. GET OVER IT FAST. it will get you in trouble. If nothing else it's a flag to others good and bad that you are armed and where it is. this is not a good thing. I can usually spot people that are packing and I note it. it doesn't make them a danger to me but I will watch them closer. I have spotted gang bangers that were packin'. I just make sure I'm not the object of their attention and leave the area as soon as possible. I don't run. Showing panic is not a good thing either. Practice being "invisible" just part of the herd. Being unnoticed is better than being armed. There is no need to have your head in a swivel let you eyes scan. If you think all those around you are a danger it's time to pack it in. bad guys are less than 1% of the population. keep that in mind.
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Old April 10, 2005, 11:09 PM   #9
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Sort of like what others said, but broader, paranoia is an unrealistic fear where you perceive something bad will happen to you. Sort of contrary to some of what others said, being afraid of threats that do not actually exist is a context that the paranoia person usually can't discern. Also contrary, one can be afraid of very real types of threats, but does so with an unrealistic concerns or reactions. For example, a crime victim may be so afraid of potential threats (as a result of being a victim) such that the victim totally changes their behavior out of fear, such as refusing to leave their home except under rare circumstances where the victim either feels safe or is forced to leave out of necessity for things like food.

snacktrack is bothered by strangers who approach. Is that paranoia? Probably not. It is being prudent. My daughter even learned about this sort of risk in Pre-K. It is called, "Stranger Danger."
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Old April 11, 2005, 12:32 AM   #10
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You're not papanoid if they really ARE after you.
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Old April 11, 2005, 01:03 AM   #11
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You know dude ... as long as you're not hearing voices telling you to shoot random people, or starting to clear leather and put people at gunpoint every time they approach you ... nothing wrong with being aware of your surroundings and carrying all the time.

The fact that you had to ask the question shows you have some concerns you ought to be looking in to, but the actions are fine.

I was actually the opposite. Of coruse, I really just got my permit originally because I had been writing letters to support passage of the law and I wanted to support the law when it passed -- in fact, didn't have a concealable rig at the time.

Some months later I bought a concealable weapon and holster and started carrying on rare occasions.

Now that I've got more confidence in my ability to carry concealed and use my weapon effectively I've been carrying more often. I still don't carry everywhere and am not always very aware (just my nature on both counts) but every time I wasn't carrying it would occur to me -- with a permit and a weapon at home, what if this were the one time in a million something happened? How stupid would I feel if I weren't able to defend my family?

But I'll never carry 24/7 because in my mind my real weapon is between my ears, and the gun is just a backup for when that proves insufficient.
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Old April 11, 2005, 09:38 AM   #12
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It is NOT my intention to inflame anyone in this forum, but I do get the impression that the world is a darker place for some than others.

Having said that, I suspect my world would be darker if I lived in a large metropolitan area as well.

The Lord has blessed me with the choice of where I live. Peace to all.
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Old April 11, 2005, 09:39 AM   #13
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Snack,

Just because you are paranoid does not mean nobody is after you.

Xavier - very wise words indeed. I agree wholeheartedly.

Personally most of the world walks around with rose colored glasses. For 98% who will never be touched by a violent crime, it is paranoia.

Funny thing is these are the very people who become religious converts when violence does touch their lives.

For those of us who follow "the way of the gun", we prefer that just in case we are involved in an altercation where we have no choice but to defend ourselves and loved ones, we have the equipment and "will" to do something about it.

More likely than not - most of us CCW holders will never have to use it.

Just like my old martial arts skills. While in grade school there were fights everyday. In College, after becoming skilled, never got into a fight again. (Not one that was outside the ring anyway)

Like the boy scout motto, "be prepared", I prefer better to have and never need than to need and never have....
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Old April 11, 2005, 10:23 AM   #14
Joe Demko
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Quote:
When I am walking around, since I live in the city everyone is a potential threat to me.
Everyone, everywhere is a potential threat to you.

Quote:
I notice that I look behind me constantly now, and decide to cross the street to avoid walking by anyone who looks like trouble to me.
Not a bad idea. Why didn't you do that before you carried a gun?

Quote:
I will also put my hand on my grip when I am walking to the alleyway to my door, a good place to get jumped.
Don't fondle the gun. It's amateurish. If where you live is that bad, you'd be better served to move to someplace better.

Quote:
Am I worrying myself crazy thinking everyone is a possible threat.
Everyone is a possible threat. What you must grasp is that everyone is not a likely threat.
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Old April 11, 2005, 10:28 AM   #15
Edward429451
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snack, yeah it calms down after awhile. I felt the same acutely aware of it at first and everyone was a potential foe. It's a mental transition process that your brain is going through digesting this new phenomenon of carrying. After awhile, it becomes second nature and your brain's mental 'periphrial (sp) vision' takes care of watching threat level of people. Not at all unlike learning to drive a car. At first you're aware of everything and now you (seemingly) have to barely watch the road.

Xavier! You read the DSM?! Got it on the shelf. Everyone needs a copy of that one. Good book. (Really needs its own dedicated stand though).
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Old April 11, 2005, 11:16 AM   #16
snacktrack
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Quote:
I notice that I look behind me constantly now, and decide to cross the street to avoid walking by anyone who looks like trouble to me.
Not a bad idea. Why didn't you do that before you carried a gun?
Good question, I mean I wasnt a total naive person before I started carrying, I guess now I am constantly aware that I am doing it. I have to admit before I would walk where I was on the path of walking because I had the macho feeling that I should be able to walk wherever I want to. Now, with the possiblity of having to defend my life and ending someone elses and all the ramifications that come with it, I would rather avoid any possible confrontations.

Quote:
Don't fondle the gun. It's amateurish. If where you live is that bad, you'd be better served to move to someplace better.
Yeah, I am already on that one. I have lived where I live for 3 years, its great for the most part. People dont walk around in the suburbs like they do in the city, so just by probabilty you are more likely to have an encounter. The reason I put my hand on my grip is because the alleyway that leads to the door on my apartment is hidden on the side of the house in between another house, and at the end there is a opening which allows for someone to sit there and wait for me without me being able to see. If I indeed had an encounter there, even a half a second would make a difference. Nobody can see into the alleyway, so its not like people can see me with my hand on the grip. But I understand your point about it being amatuerish.

Quote:
Not at all unlike learning to drive a car. At first you're aware of everything and now you (seemingly) have to barely watch the road.
Good analogy, that makes sense to me. I remember the first time I had to go on I-95, I was scared to death. I swore people were going to ram into me. I now scan all around me without fear, and drive for other people who dont watch what they are doing. I have been driving for 14 years without an accident, I have only been carrying for about a month and a half so I think it will become more natural for me as time goes on.
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Old April 11, 2005, 12:04 PM   #17
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Xavier! You read the DSM?! Got it on the shelf. Everyone needs a copy of that one. Good book. (Really needs its own dedicated stand though).
I'd never read that thing! My wife is a psych professional. I use her book for reference occasionally in my work, but by and large I avoid these types like the plague. They make my skin crawl. When my wife asks me my opinion, my standard answer is her patients need to get a job.

Quote:
Don't fondle the gun. It's amateurish. If where you live is that bad, you'd be better served to move to someplace better.
Unless I'm mistaken, Snack is toting a Jframe. Get a pocket holster, carry it in your front pocket with pleated front pants and fondle away. One of the great advantages of pocket carry is the ability to conceal your hand on your gun as well as your gun.

Snack, what I would suggest now if you haven't already taken one is a course in personal protection. This is different from self defense, no judo or karate involved. The NRA offers a basic Personal Protection course that if taught by a good instructor will be of great benefit. Basically what has happened is you have gone from condition white to condition yellow. The driving analogy is a very good one.
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Old April 11, 2005, 12:35 PM   #18
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Hey, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean no one is out to get you.
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Old April 11, 2005, 04:16 PM   #19
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Keep everything in perspective...

We carry because of "just in case," like fire insurance. I'm 57 years old, and my house has never burned down. Likewise, I've never needed to use a gun in self-defense. Probably, I will live another 57 (well, maybe not that long) years, and never need to use a gun in self-defense. It's just there, just in case.
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Old April 11, 2005, 04:55 PM   #20
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Get a pocket holster, carry it in your front pocket with pleated front pants and fondle away.
LOL, he may have to be careful where he does that too.
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Old April 11, 2005, 08:56 PM   #21
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Paranoia probably kicks in at the point your sharing the soap with your companion. (*The firearm-this isn't one of those kind of forums).

Really, sometimes it seems the level to which some seemingly need to carry, goes a bit too far. Unfortunately, I've ended up living in some very violent places, but never could justify a 24/7 arming. To some degree, having appropriate moments where one doesn't have to carry a weapon might be a necessary pyschological relief. The bloody thing is a responsibility (and a very heavy one should it need to be used, or in some cases, even drawn). Plus, in a basic sense, a physical nuisance to carry and conceal.
Mayhaps the level of paranoia is reached when a realistic assessment of the likelyhood of requiring a weapon, is lost. Or when the balance between what you can carry, and what's actually practical is also diffused.
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Old April 12, 2005, 05:07 AM   #22
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when it damages you

If you find that your fear is hurting your life then it is to far.

I have heard people here talk about right or wrong responses to situations. For example if you handled a situation the same way armed or unarmed it was probably done correctly. The idea being that the firearm is the last resort to be used when all else fails.

If your life is worse off then it was before there might be an issue that needs to be dealt with. Problem is with these stupid laws if you seek assistance for that issue, well I just dont want to say it out loud but most of you know what I am refering to.

Lets put it this way. The point of getting the ccw and carrying in my mind is to make my life better. It gives me a better chance in a life or death confrentation. It is not to make me afraid of every corner or individual/group out there in the real world.

I dont want it to make my life worse (I have a job that takes care of that part...). I try not to introduce things to my life/family that makes things worse.

I hope that you resolve what needs to be fixed and that your life is happy. Remember, not everybody is a threat. Except that guy over there, the one with the beady eyes and dark hat. He has been following me every day... Oh wait that is just the spy guy from Mad magazine...
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Old April 12, 2005, 10:11 AM   #23
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Well, just last fall I was questioning my decision to carry during all waking hours (live out in the country and work at home so that is possible).

Then in December we had a prowler in our yard one morning, who was apparently stalking my teenage daughters.

So mentally, I am back to living in "Indian Country" again.

I'm not sure that will ever change now...
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Old April 12, 2005, 10:44 AM   #24
OF
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You're getting used to a new awareness, a new way of thinking about your place in the world and your surroundings, just like you're getting used to the weight of the gun. This is totally normal. Eventually this heightened awareness ('condition yellow' is what it's called) becomes very natural and will no longer affect you in the unnerving way that it is now.

The gun is sort of a catalyst helping to create this change in your way of looking at the world, it's weird now but you just need to carry for a while to see that nothing has changed but the fact that you have a gun and your perception.

Just remember that you're in no more danger now than you ever were, you just have your eyes open so it seems worse. This actually means that your potential for a nasty encounter is far far less than it was as your dormant danger radar is finally switched on and you will be able to detect potential bad situations more quickly than you used to. The surge of paranoia you are experiencing is just your mind getting used to this new tool (awareness/'danger radar') that it has not used before.

Not only is your ability to avoid danger now significantly improved, if an encounter becomes unavoidable, you are finally in a position to have an option to save yourself or others if need be. Once you realize this and accept it, you should start to relax. You're not in more danger, you are in less danger. The threats in your neighboorhood are diminished due to the fact that you are looking less like food now than you did. This is good.

So, yes, you'll relax over time, but still (hopefully) retain that sense of 'plugged in'-ness and awareness to the happenings around you, only it will become almost sub-conscious. You're replacing ignorance with awareness and want to keep a little healthy caution. You are leaving the world of the sheep and entering the world of the sheepdog. Depending on how much of a 'condition white'-type person you were before, it can be like a thin veil being lifted or it can be seriously overwhelming - as it seems like you are experiencing, but you'll calm down after a bit.

- Gabe

PS: Take your hand off the gun. Bad idea...unless you really have reason to believe you are in imminent danger.
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Old April 15, 2005, 12:44 PM   #25
Bo Hunter
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Its funny you bring this up....

I was (still am) trying to decide on what firearm I want to buy for concealed carry. In the decision making process, I decided to visit some internet forums to get some input and help make my decision.

Consequently, I'm also in the process of trying to get into law enforcement, a pretty big change from my career as a desk jockey (mechanical engineer). So I figured I'd check out some of the other "non gun" focused forums like this one (this one meaning "Tactics and Training" as opposed to "The Semi-Auto Forum").

In reading these forums, hearing about situations "everyday" people have been in, I feel as though I've become somewhat paranoid, and I don't carry yet.

Coming from a rural upbringing, my "awareness" has always been very low, since there has never been anything to fear.

In preparation for LE, I've also started taking self defense martial arts classes.

All of this "preparation", but mostly what I read here, made me much more "paranoid", which in reality I think its simply awareness of my surroundings. For instance, I find myself looking around much more often. Instead of people watching, or day dreaming, I take mental note of peoples appearances, activities, demeanor, and clothing. When entering an establishment (resturant, quickie mart, etc), I give it a scan, look for exits, "shady characters", etc. On hot day's, I take note of those that are wearing unseasonable clothes (i.e. hiding something), especially in places like malls.

The first week or two this started happening, I kept thinking to myself, "What the hell is wrong with me? I sound like those gun toting nut-jobs on the firing line that are talking all that code yellow crap, putting motion detectors in their houses and having a cell phone and shotgun in the closet".

Then a few weeks went by. I became more comfortable with it. My awareness level became more normal, and I didn't feel as paranoid as I did when I first started being so aware. Then my attitude changed from feeling like a wack job listening to those paranoid nuts on the Firing Line, to how amazingly naive, and unaware I'd lived my life. Lucky to have not gotten in trouble or bad situations. I notice many things now.

Some examples....

The other day at the driving range (golf), a man came out to the range with a small backpack. He was dressed in clothing that would make it tough to hide a gun. "he's got a pistol in that backpack" I thought to myself. "Why on earth would he bring his backpack from the car, to the driving range to hit balls?"

While getting on to the elevator the other day at a hospital, there was a shady looking character who didn't look quite like he knew where he was going. Being the only elevator, I boarded with him, but only after putting my hand in my pocket, grasping my keys as a stabbing weapon....just in case I needed them. Is that paranoid? I think he was a "special" person that worked there, but how was I supposed to know? He looked a bit unstable to me....

I've also started to become aware of "non traditional" weapons around me. (I think this is due to the self defense classes). I look at pens, silverwear, and other odd implements a little differently now, and note where they are just in case I need them.

Personally, I think 80% of it is a game to me. Training for my LE career, watching people, trying to reading them, taking mental notes of their stature and what they are wearing. The situational awareness is the only thing I really feel is serious in my mind, and could actually save my life. I'm not going to grab a pen and use it like Jason Bourne to whoop up on some hoodlum, but its fun to pretend anyway right? I don't cross the street to avoid people (of course I'm not typically out at 11pm walking down a dark street in the bad part of town either, perhaps I would then...)....

This thread made me happy I wasn't the only one....
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