This post is in reference to a few things: 1. My dad got me a can of mace this winter for christmas. 2. I know a friend who's parents got mugged a few weeks ago. 3. I read an article in the Village Voice that said that crime is up where I work in the Lower East Side and 4. I've been watching a considerable number of animal documentaries. So let's relate all four topics in order to put things in perspective. The documentary series I've been watching is called "BBC's Life" and it's incredible. For people unfamiliar with it, it's basically Discovery Channel's "Earth" but not narrated by Sigourney Weaver. Instead, it's narrated by David Attenburrough, and he does a fantastic job. But, I digress. The last episode I watched was called Predator vs. Prey, and one scene was dedicated to a squirrel watching her babies and a big-ass rattler that wanted to eat one. Instead of sacrificing her babies, the momma squirrel started kicking sand onto the deadly reptile. See the connection to getting mugged? If you don't, you soon will. Here are the top five ways not to get mugged in New York City.
5. Use public transportation if possible.
Easy enough, right? Public transportation is great for two reasons for not getting mugged: Odd, bright artificial light, and safety in numbers. One friend of mine got mugged at knife point in Troy and was chased onto a bus. He made a big scene and stayed on the bus and was safe. The robber got weird and said to the crowd that they were friends, but quickly got off the bus and vanished like a ghost into the night. Bus or subway, you're safer in the station.
4. Follow your instinct, jay walk.
I think this goes with number two, but it can really come down to what side of the street you are walking on. If you get the sudden suspicion that the two goons up the street are not up to any good, just jay walk. You can get a good sense of the situation if they suddenly cross the street as well. And when walking at night, take the headphones off. You're basically advertising that you have an iphone.
3. Don't wear gang colors.
This might sound like a joke, but seriously, don't wear gang colors. There's no reason to where bright red when you're walking down the street in the Bronx. Trade it in for neutral colors like grays, browns and greens. Avoid BLUE and RED! And purple, unless you're into that sorta thing.
2. Look tough.
Wearing a big coat, a hoodie and a skull cap makes people not want to mess with you. I've worked in a shady part of the Lower East Side for the good part of a year and have never had any incidents where people want to mess with me or take my money, not that I have any on me ever anyways. You might want to carry a couple dollars just in case you do get mugged, however, so as not to piss off your mugger. Looking tough is exactly how miss squirrel got mr rattle snake to go away.
1. Blend in.
Much like the successful species of the coral reefs, a big part of safety involves blending in with your surroundings. This includes not being terrified of muggings all of the time, or looking like you might wet yourself if you ever have to go to the Bronx or Queens or certain parts of Brooklyn. Just follow your instincts and you will find yourself okay at the end of the day.
While these are incredibly helpful tips, here are a few things to NOT do, especially if being mugged.
1. DON'T carry a knife with you.
As my dad always says, "Never take a knife to a gun fight." If someone is willing to rob you, they probably have a reason. They need money. IF you pull a knife on them, they are going to cut you, or worse, shoot you. A better alternative is to carry mace, which incapacitates a 200lb man for 30 minutes. However, only bring it if you are willing to get knifed or shot for the $20 in your pocket. ie. not worth it.
2. DON'T say you have nothing on you. If you do, they will take everything else you have like cell phones, ipods, etc.
3. DON'T talk shit to them. Just give them what they want and remember that you are worth more than your wallet.
In the animal kingdom, it's a fish eat smaller fish world out there. It's hard to believe that someone might try to take someone else's stuff in this world, but times are tough and seem to be only getting tougher.
Stay safe out there.