So let me tell you about my afternoon. I’ve been running around like mad, trying to get ready for vacation tomorrow. That’s right. Erin Weed is taking a break. Sound the alarm, cuz this never happens! It’s amazing how much work goes into taking a vacation, however. It’s like you need to rest after prepping to get some rest. Oh, the irony. But anyways, back to my afternoon. I was driving on I-25 north to our office, and all of a sudden I heard a big “pop.” Immediately my car went out of control, and started veering into other lanes. This is when my adrenal stress training in self-defense really came in handy. Instead of panicking, I took a deep breath, then started signaling to the other drivers that I was about to cut them off. I had to cross four lanes of traffic to get to the shoulder, and wouldn’t you know it…right as I stop the car, I look in the rear-view mirror and the creepiest truck I’ve ever seen pulls up behind me. This is a situation many women have found themselves in at some point, and simultaneously, two big issues come up.
Issue #1: Safety – OK, I’m a woman…alone…on a highway…and a guy in a creepy truck just stopped behind me. As he gets out of the truck, I see he’s covered with tattoos. Instant profiling and discrimination begins. Immediately afterward comes the self-loathing for thinking that just because he his body is covered with tattoos doesn’t mean he’s a serial killer. Anyone can commit a crime, but as women, we tend to cling to the visual concepts of what a bad guy looks like…and those thought patterns are dangerous.
Issue #2: Women’s independence. I know how to change a tire. And while I never had a blow-out to this porportion before, I have practiced changing a tire many times. As he walked up to me, I started thinking…no, I’ll change my own damn tire. But then he had all this professional tire-changing gear, and I knew he could do this better and faster than me.
I was torn on multiple levels, so I decided to let my intuition make the call. I asked myself, “Can you trust this person? Is there anything about this man that is making you uncomfortable?” The simple answer was NO. While the situation overall was stressful, the man himself wasn’t causing me any concern. So together we changed the tire, and I was out of there in 20 minutes flat. (no pun intended) I gave him $20 for his trouble, and he was psyched.
As July 4th weekend is upon us, here’s a few safety trips if you find yourself in a similar situation:
1. After pulling over to safety, get on your cell phone and immediately let someone know where you are, and the fact that someone is helping you. Even if you have to leave messages or make several calls, just make sure someone knows where you are and what’s going on. (and if you’re a cave woman and don’t have a cell phone…go buy one to keep in the car just for emergencies.) If necessary, call the police to inform them of your situation.
2. Do not play the damsel in distress and act like a victim. Instead, go right up to the person, look them in the eye, give a firm handshake and thank them for stopping. Ask for their first and last name. Memorize it. Even better, call your emergency contact again and say, “I just wanted to let you know that a nice man named Jimmy BoJangles has stopped and is assisting me with the tire.” Yes, a fake name can be given…but your intuition will likely pick up on the person’s hesitation if he’s making one up on the fly.
3. Help identify your intuitive feeling by asking yourself: Is this person giving me the creeps? Do I feel safe right now? Is there something odd that I just can’t identify that is giving me an unsettled feeling? If your intuition gives off feelings of danger or doubt, trust it. Refuse assistance and call police instead.
4. While your helper isn’t looking, whip out your cell phone and took a photo of his license plate. And while you’re at it, there’s a plethora of improvised weapons in a woman’s trunk: car jack, lug wrench, hub cap…get scrappy! Just hold any of them in your hand, in case the situation takes a dark turn.
Wishing you safe and happy travels this holiday weekend!