01 March 2013

Parking Lot "Damsel in Distress"



The other day I was in the parking lot of a busy auto parts store alone a busy road.  My wife as in the backseat, and a buddy who was with me was sitting in the front seat.  I was on one knee checking  the fuse box under the dash.  It was in the middle of the day.

All of a sudden, a women, with her arms full of belongings comes running around the corner looking over her shoulder.  She sees that I am the only car there and begins to run towards me to say that a guy in a truck (as she point to the where she had come from) is cursing at and hitting her and if I will give her a ride.  Before she could finish her sentence I told her to “STAY BACK”, she stopped dead in her tracks.  She was standing in front of the door of the auto parts place so I told her to go inside and have them call 911.  The whole time expecting someone to come around the corner after her.  My wife because of where she was seated had a better angle then I did, yelled to me that she did not see anyone.   The women said she did not want that, only a ride.  I told her that I could not help her.  She then went far out of her way to go around me and disappeared across the parking lot.  We never did see the “guy in the truck”.

The reason I am sharing this is to show how easy it is to become involved in a violent situation when you really are just minding your own business.  When I was a cop I saw this same situation play out many times at gas stations.  Someone would be approached coming out of the store, or standing at the pumps.  The other thing that happens is that they become involved when their attention is drawn to an altercation and get the old “what are you looking at”.

For any situation to take place three things are necessary-

Environment
Scenario
Actors

In many cases, like the situations above, through no fault of your own you can quickly end up an actor in a scenario, in an environment not of your choosing.

When trouble finds you, the first rule of thumb as actor is to remove yourself if possible.  If that is not an option, limit your involvement.  If those two things fail you need to dedicate yourself to the role.

So let revisit my parking lot scenario-

Basically I was stuck, down on one knee, two other people with me, and keys out of the ignition.  Would have taken a bit for me to get out of there.   I have found it a good habit that when confronted to the front to glance to your rear and vice versa.  To tell you the truth I half way expected to see the “guy in the truck” blocking me in a robbery attempt.  Luckily this was not the case.  But in the instant I was not going anywhere.

So I ordered her to stay back and redirected her with the option of going into the store and calling 911.  As soon as she refused I knew something was up.  This effectively took me out of the scenario even though I was currently stuck in the environment.

Some other points- because she was holding her belongings I could see both of her hands.  She showed no signs of injury or abuse.  Had she come around the corner with a weapon, or covered in blood (unfortunately something I have also run into), my response would have been very different.

During the entire (30 second encounter) I always kept my door between us.  This provided me with an improvised impact weapon (a favorite) and a physical barrier. 
When we have done this scenario during Force on Force in classes we call it the “Damsel in Distress” and just about every time people are sucked in towards the “victim” leaving behind the cover they brought with them.  This is covered in depth during vehicle tactics.

So next time you are in public and someone rushed towards you keep these things in mind.- George

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