Object lesson

Most folks, upon seeing this video, come to the conclusion that this is a prime example of a victim who has lost situational awareness.

I don’t think so. Let us take a look at the body language here.

First, the critter. At the :08 mark, see that side-long glance? His intended victim is awkwardly balanced and his hands will be no use. That’s targeting.

At the :10 mark, watch him as he checks the rest of the store for possible Good Samaritans. At :17 he takes a deep steadying breath — probably unconsciously. This is his body signalling that he has made his decision.

At :21 he rocks away from his victim, storing the most energy possible for a single burst of maximum energy, then accelerates through his victim …

0:23 — One shot: Game, Set, Match.

Kind of obvious, isn’t it? Folks will say that a blind man could have seen this one coming — and they’re right.

So, how did the victim wind up (metaphorically speaking) on the platter with mint sauce?

I don’t think it was a lack of situational awareness. The victim knew the critter was there, and I think the hindbrain of the victim was yelling, “Red Alert!” — and I’m pretty sure that the victim over-rode his subconscious.

Take another look at the video, except this time we will look at the victim.

See the way the victim is standing? He’s standing square on to the counter — like most people would. However — and this is Interesting Point #1 — he keeps his head turned away from the critter. He is doing everything possible to avoid eye-contact with the critter.

Interesting Point #2 — look at the right arm of the victim. It’s firmly planted between himself and the critter. It’s a psychological barrier — a shield — that he probably doesn’t realize he’s erecting.

You know what I think? I think the reptile hindbrain of the victim was screaming warnings at him up to the point that the lights went out. And I think he consciously over-rode the signals — either to avoid the appearance of rudeness, or out of a desire not to appear racist.

The victim walked into the McDonalds, and the critter followed him. Probably starting before they even reached the door, the victim is getting Bad Signals from his instincts.

Victim thinks, “I’m in a lighted area, in plain view of God, the teller and anyone driving by — what could happen?” He then over thinks the situation, and decides that he’s Stereotyping, and That’s Just Wrong.

So, at the counter, the victim avoids eye-contact with the critter — he doesn’t want to give offense by appearing arrogant or dominant, so he keeps his face averted.

His hindbrain, on the other paw, doesn’t give a flying wheeze about giving insult and moves the arm — a body-part the conscious isn’t concerned with — into a barrier.

For all the good that it did him.

No, this wasn’t a failure of Situational Awareness. The victim was fully aware of the critter and the situation — he just consciously chose to disregard what his Awareness was telling him.

Shame, that.


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14 thoughts on “Object lesson”

  1. I’m a small, older woman. Standing in the store the other day with a contingent of young, male hispanics. I forced myself to keep looking around and if one looked at me, I looked back. The other patrons’ eyes would shift away after meeting mine for a second; these would not. They didn’t like being looked back at and I don’t care.

    I won’t act the sheep.

    Did I err?


  2. Cindi acted correctly of course. Even my limited training emphasized eye contact as a good way to avoid a confrontation.

    This video is a clear example of the importance of peripheral vision. And balance. Simply dancing sideways a step during the windup would put you out of range of the haymaker and leave the critter off balance.

  3. I’ve been in much the same situation before at a convenience store late one night in a bad section of town. The fellow didn’t was doing much the same and acting hinky. I did my best to no let him get to my side or get behind me. Finally he blatantly got behind me as I was about to pay and I quickly turned and it was obvious he was attempting to load up for some sort of maneuver and he had some sort of red handle from a slide hammer in his hand – like a dent puller from a body shop. I moved my hand to my holster and quickly put distance between me and him. He dropped the dent puller handle and backed up a bit and started jabbering ghetto gibberish. I payed quickly and left never taking my hand off my holster. Never drew my weapon or even moved my jacket and clothing so it was displayed. It was enough to keep him back. As I was leaving the parking lot in my truck he was yelling something to his buddies who were evidently waiting for him down the block. I don’t know what it was. “Kill whitey!” most likely lol.

  4. LD, you’ve got me thinking about something.

    Being a younger man, I’ve had it pounded into my head for years that being a racist is bad (which is it); and that I should never make assumptions based on the skin color of another person.

    It occurs to me that fellow that received the sucker punch might have very well be avoiding eye contact with the critter simply because he was afraid of the invisible racist police. By assuming that the young man next to him is intent on doing him harm, our victim feels guilty…simply because the young man is black and our vic has been told not to judge someone based on that.

    Something for the brain to chew on.

  5. Lawdog, you’re right on the mark. Coincidentally enough, this ties into the post I made on my own blog only yesterday, about the media-perpetuated fear that many white people have of doing anything that even might appear racist.

    Good post. Thanks.

  6. What you have here is an old white man who has been beat over the head for several decades with white guilt who is afraid to even THINK of a black male as a threat for fear that the internal PC police in his head will convict him of *gasp* racial insensitivity.

    I say all this because this is EXACTLY what happened to me several years ago in a dark parking lot.

    Young black man walking purposefully toward myself and a friend. Both of us thought (without saying anything to each other) that it would be racist of us to not just stand there and engage in polite conversation at 2:30am in a dark parking lot.

    Consequentially we get to see the shiny little Raven he had stuffed in his pocket and it cost me about $20, a nice Seiko and about 6 months of sleepless nights.

  7. Friend of mine relayed a story from a week ago. He had dinner with co-workers after work and ended up catching the last train home. This did not go all the way to his stop to his suprise, so he has called a cab and is waiting in a lighted area, when a critterish kid begins slowly inching closer to him. He put his hand on his concealed gun and made eye contact. Not drawing or displaying, just accessible and letting the possible critter know he was not oblivious or frightened. The possible critter chose to walk in opposite direction a few minutes later. Eye contact can really help. One self defense instructor told us to never let politeness overrule that hinky feeling you get. She says people thought she was probably crazy when she demanded loudly that a man getting too close to her back off. She is still not sorry though because he was setting off warning bells in her head. Being thought of as the crazy rude lady is better than ignoring a real warning.

  8. I have been known on occasion to smile at people.

    It’s a nice, friendly, happy smile even.

    Still, for some reason they tend to leave quite quickly.

    Apparently there’s something about it that says “Oh goodie! I so seldom get to be really unsociable.”

  9. As someone who cannot carry in his state, I take Steve’s approach. When quick evacuation is not a practical option, I confront the threat with a welcoming smile. I would have thought this would incline an attacker to view me as a weak target (it started by my nature, not by plan), but instead it seems to make clear two things: I see you. I’m not afraid of you.


  10. Doc: it also communicates “I’ve been HOPING for someone to play with!”

    Usually works for me…

  11. How long do y’all suppose that mugger waited for that perfect opportunity?

    As the dog points out, the victim was deliberately ignoring him. As blows go, a haymaker is easy to avoid, but you have to be watching for it!

    That McDonalds was empty, or at least of anyone who would help the man.

    The mugger also had a clear line of egress.

    The selected victim was also an older man; therefore more likely to be financially well off.

    The selected vitim was also about to purchase food at a McDonalds; it was therefore very likely that he had cash on him (even though this happened not to be true).

    If we could think in terms of how easy it would be to carry off a sucessful crime against our person, I think we would be supprised a lot less. Unfortunately, this sort of thinking isn’t intuitive.

  12. I have the feeling that LawDog is right on the money here. I can see myself many years ago not wanting to make eye contact with a possible trouble-maker. After much training, being an NRA Certified Firearm Instructor, NRA Membership Recruiter, teaching self defense, USCCA Member and more, I have come to realize how important it is to be in condition yellow at all times.

    I carry a concealed firearm all the time and I am ALWAYS in an alert condition. I NEVER avoid someone who looks like a trouble-maker. Eye contact, turning towards them, talking about the weather and other such meaningless small-talk could easily prevent me from having to fire at him.

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