Saturday, June 18, 2011

Situational Awareness & How My Wife's "SA" Neutered Me as a Man

Situational Awareness & How My Wife's "SA" Neutered Me as a Man

My particular situation happened with my wife during a grocery run.  We uneventfully shopped for the overpriced groceries that seem so in vogue today.  Paid for said items, and we headed out the door for truck. I was in my own world with my wife following a 1/4 step behind me.  I was not paying attention, neither looking around or behind us; Situational Awareness = Zero.  In fact if you had a check list of Situational Awareness I would have failed all points excluding pulling the grocery cart up to the right vehicle.

I must repent for my sins and tell a disgraceful story which implicates me in a bad situation.  Fortunately it ended event-less, however could have been bad...  No, it was not a home invasion where I missed a car sitting in front of our home inappropriately, not a car jacking because someone was allowed way too close to a side door, it was something far less sadistic.

SA - Situational Awareness is said to be the single most important skill which keeps military personnel, law enforcement, agency folks, survivalist, and civilians alive more than any other.  It helps you see things before they happen, anticipate and read a situation, see the snake before it bits you, and be steps ahead of almost any situation. In short it allows you to know what is going on around you in any  situation.

I pulled the car up to the truck and my wife still behind me says " captain oblivious did you catch any of what just happened?"  I had not, my mind was securely in a state of "we are in the wealthiest lowest crime areas in the city...nothing ever happens here."  Here I am someone who has had substantial tactical & martial arts training far above the average Joe and even many in Law Enforcement and I went marching toward the car in my own little mental safety bubble... la, la, la, la, la, de, freaking, da.

According to my wife...and oblivious to me, as we walked out of the upscale store in the nicest of neighborhoods, two white teen skateboard types were close on my wife's heals right who was right behind me.  As we crossed from the store into the parking lot my wife felt they were a little too close for comfort and crossed in a distracting pattern to test their intent, which they followed. She overheard one mention that her purse was just hanging on her arm and was and easy take.  Being an imposingly thin 6' 1" woman and confrontation person and raised by tough brothers she turned squared off on the two a stared them down.  The two decided life was easier without engaging my wife.  Sadly I have to say, this entire situation escaped and emasculated me like nothing else has in a very long time.  My wife was potentially in harms way and I was spacing out like Homer Simpson about the great recent weather, Oreos, and the steaks we just purchased.  I remembered there were two teens, but when my wife quizzed me I didn't even get their cloths right.

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Strategic (long-term)sensemakingunderstanding
Science (longer-term)understandpredict

The lesson here is to pull your head out of your ass as you are stumbling around even in super safe environments, because bad things happen even in good places. It would not have mattered if I would have been carrying all manner of deadly and less-than-deadly equipment and dressed as a ninja.  One or the other punks could have grabbed my wife's purse if she would have been in the same state of mind as me and been half way across the parking lot before we would have noticed and reacted.

I take 100% of the blame for the situation, however my wife using glaring looks and "The Force" to convey to her partner feelings of being threatened is not a communication method.  SWAT teams and Military team leaders don't just run into a room or building and expect everyone else to follow.  Your voice after SA is your most powerful defense weapon. Communication is essential in sharing SA with your teammates, partners, and of course your husband. I did remind my wife that if she would have been communicating with with me on the situation, it would have been a two against two engagement vs one versus two.  If it would have turned bad, that would have been important.

Based on this event we have set up a keyword for potentially dangerous situations.  She will say "Hey Eddie" to communicate her SA of a potential situation ... noting my name is not Eddie (Eddie is the name we have given the 9 foot Corn Snake in our back yard.) Surfice to say we all pay attention when we say the name Eddie. You and your partner are a team and should not be using glaring looks to communicate during potentially bad situations just as SWAT and Military teams don't. Hand signals yes, voice comm yes, Jedi mind power no.

When you feel threatened it is human instinct to either get quiet or start barking before engaging.  I am a barker and would have asked "what's the F'ing problem", my wife squares off stares you down and then starts communicating. This is not a time to clam up and stop talking. Honestly my wife gives me a bunch of looks and all it does is make me think I am doing something wrong.  Communicate, say "hey come here", "we have a problem", "front bedroom clear", "Someone's trying the back door", communicate before, during, and after a situation.  Chances are statistically high that if you start communicating and show everyone you are in charge of the situation, the offender(s) will decide to back off. Don't glare sternly at the back of your husband's head who is clearly out of it and think about mmmm, Oreos.

Typically my radar is up spinning on high in any slightly unfamiliar environment, but as I did today my guard was dropped in familiar surroundings.  This was a painful learning experience... once which my wife will not soon let me forget. I am just glad my wife was on it even if it did crush my ego.

Here is the lesson - To survive you can never let your guard down, even if you in familiar surroundings at home, work, or even at the local Mega Mart... in the good neighborhood.

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