I hate the subway. First of all you’re technically underground in a dark, creepy, graffiti littered ten foot wide tunnel with no cell phone signal in most cases. Secondly, for some reason I can’t seem to erase horrifying YouTube images of a homeless man strung out on bath salts sizzling like a barbecued Porterhouse on the third rail. There’s something about public transportation that makes me feel like I’m fighting for my life with every time I walk through the turnstile.
Nonetheless, in the city of Brotherly Love there’s been a recent outbreak of snatch and grabs amongst smart phones that are carelessly being held like tissues as commuters travel the streets. As I emerged from the dreaded subway the other day a transit cop took it upon himself to instruct me to put my phone away so I wouldn’t be the next victim (But let’s be honest: I have a Blackberry Bold with no touchscreen. The thief would have to spend more money stealing it than the damn phone is worth). A few of my Facebook friends have even posted panicked statuses about how their exciting walk home posting Instagram pics was ruined as they watched their $200 Apple emblem flash from sight with a thief on a bike. I couldn’t help but think I wouldn’t walk home with my Benz dangling carelessly in between my fingers, so why are people so naïve when it comes to keeping their cellular investments safe.
When you’re a woman living in the city, at one time or another you’ll contemplate being a victim of a random act of crime. The sad truth is that statistics show that women, urban residents and African-Americans run the highest risk of being a victim of robbery, violent attacks and sexual assault. But that doesn’t mean that we have to walk around with a sign that says, “Assault me, please,” on our foreheads. Unfortunately I see women putting their safety at risk on a daily basis and many don’t realize it until it’s too late. Maybe I’m being slightly paranoid, but I rather be paranoid that salty with no cell phone any day. If you’re doing any of the following, it’s no longer a matter of if you’ll be a victim, but when.
1. Stop pulling out your map in the middle of Times Square.
My love of travel hasn’t necessarily helped the fact I’m directionally challenged. But being a tourist doesn’t mean I have to look like one. What’s the point of the geniuses at Google putting people’s houses and cars on blast via Google maps if you’re not going to use it to navigate your way around unfamiliar places. We spend hundreds of dollars on fancy phones just to Instagram and play Angry Birds, but still don’t know where the hell we’re going since we haven’t bothered to blow the dust of the GPS ap. Pulling out a map like picnic blanket or asking for directions is begging to be taken advantage of. When traveling, research places you want to go, intersections and how you will get around so you can avoid an unexpected tour of New Jack City.
2. Keep your purse near your “no-no” spots.
I have a rule about purses and keeping my money and cards close to me: If you’re going to rob me, you’re going to have to cop a feel to do it. I don’t care how nice or safe a place seems, you should not be leaving your purse unattended while you go to the salad bar or hanging it on the back of your chair out of sight. You’re just making it easier for your identity to get stolen.
3. Unless your phone has a mace ap, stop holding it in front of your face.
Someone on a college campus near you is walking around with an Ipad in front of their face like it has the ability to turn into a ninja in the event of an attack. I’ve had packs of Orbit Bubblemint that I treated with more care than some of you do with these expensive gadgets you tote around. We get it: You’re cool and up-to-date on the latest technology. Well how about downloading something that instructs you on how not to audition for the victim role on The First 48.
4. Beats by Dre just might land you a beat down.
I would love to blast J. Cole’s “Hello Mr. Nice Watch” while I am on the bus on the way to work daydreaming of the day where I can get paid without having to leave my Sleep Number. In the meantime I’m going to need to have all of my senses to be aware of the first sign of foolishness. I only wear one ear bud when I’m traveling and listening to tunes. Let Beats by Dre cancel out your bestie’s “I can’t keep a man” rants, but you might want to hear the guy high on bath salts whose telling you your face smells like a Baconator.
5. Don’t take certain areas for granted.
At the end of the day when it comes to crime, there’s only so much you can do before our old friend fate takes over. If I‘ve learned anything over the past few months it’s that you could be sitting at a premiere of summer blockbuster in a small town in Colorado or riding your bike through the projects in the middle of the day, all it takes is someone with beef, bad intentions or the slightest bit of crazy that could land you on the eleven o’ clock news. Don’t assume that if there are white picket fences and green lawns that you’re safe. Conduct yourself with common sense and a healthy dose of suspicion wherever you are.
6. Keep the stroller on the curb.
Maybe there’s a secret parent code that I won’t understand until I have little ones of my own, but why do some of you parents insist on pushing your stroller into the street while you wait for the light to change on the curb? And why do you load your child in to the car on the side where traffic is zooming past? Is there some healthy child development technique that involves seeing how fast you can strap the car seat in before someone clips you with their mirror? Stop giving drivers so much credit and keep your child out of harm’s way even if it means risking your own safety (and convenience).
7. Remember: When car vs. bicycle, car wins 99% of the time.
Bikers, you gotta love the way they weave around your fender all self-righteous in their exercise and effort to save the environment. What befuddles me is how they speed through red lights when the coast is clear and disobey all kinds of traffic laws, but have the nerve to get an attitude when you cut them off when you’re making a right turn. Guess what? In a collision the thing with the engine is probably going to win. You’re not a car, so stop acting like one and get ready to get owned if you think traffic laws don’t apply to your Schwinn.