Power Nap Head Pillow (courtesy hammacher.com)

hammacher.com describes the Power Nap Head Pillow [above] thusly: “This is the head-enveloping pillow that blocks out noise and light to create a private zone for catching a quick power nap. Designed in Spain, the cozy cocoon fits snugly over the head and neck while leaving a large opening for the nose and mouth. The pillow allows users to tune out their surroundings, creating a dark, quiet microenvironment ideal for achieving a deep, restful sleep whether stranded in a crowded airport or recharging between meetings at work. Pockets over the ears muffle ambient sound and serve as a place to tuck hands while leaning forward over a tray table or desk.” Absent a portable flotation tank, the head pillow sets the standard for “condition white.” For those of you who wish to fight obliviousness . . .

There are three basic ways to maintain situational awareness so that you, a member of the armed intelligentsia, can react quickly and appropriately to an imminent threat to life or limb—without sinking into permanent paranoia.

1. Look for trouble

I don’t mean always look for trouble. Well, actually, I do. Initially. When you enter a new environment scan for people who look dodgy: upset, aggressive, out-of-place, whatever. Check for interpersonal conflict of any kind. You are just as likely (if not more likely) to get caught up in someone else’s escalating drama than have drama directed at you and yours. See if anything looks unusual or odd. Or if there’s something valuable on display.

Look for trouble as you enter a new place because that’s when it’s easiest to leave, should you feel the need. Also, you can then STOP scanning when you’re done. You’ve established a mental baseline for peace and harmony. If anything bad happens your subconscious will “wake you up”—in the same way you suddenly become aware when someone says your name across a crowded room. At least in theory.

2. Have a plan

When you enter a new space devise an emergency plan for avoiding violence and/or leaving. It’s as simple as making a mental note of the location of the exits, cover and concealment, and then figuring out (roughly) how you and yours could get to safety. Sure you can “game” an armed self-defense scenario—if that’s what floats your boat. But again, this isn’t something you need to do on a constant basis. The gunfight visualization I mean. Having a plan to beat feet, yes. Always.

3. Train Up Your Partner

Armed self-defenders with significant others and/or custody of intelligent offspring have a significant advantage over lone wolf types (e.g. twice divorced fifty-somethings out and about in a new town). Your partner/progeny is an extra set of eyes and ears that can supplement your situational awareness of take over when you need to disengage. (Designated dickhead detector?) Provided, of course, you train your cohort to ID danger.

Best to make it a game. After you’ve been in a place for a while, ask him/her to close his/her eyes and describe any people worth worrying about. Then have them ID the exits, cover and concealment. Eyes open, share test results, reward contestant with praise. And cash. Paying children and/or high-maintenance partners a bounty for correct answers is an extremely effective training regimen.

The key to this cooperation: an emergency code word. You must have a word that signals big trouble in little China. Any attempt at communication about the nature and/or exact location of a threat—and subsequent discussion of a plan to avoid it—is bound to fail. BENELLI means GO, for example. No questions asked. None answered. Bill paid later. Just go.

There’s a time to look for danger and a time to relax and lose yourself in whatever you’re doing. Scan and then chill. If you can’t chill you’re probably doing something stupid in a stupid place with stupid people. Leave. Either that or have a drink. Make mine a Stoli on the rocks, two olives. You never know when you may want to share.

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44 Responses to Three Ways to Maintain Situational Awareness

      • Shannon should be the first to put it on; it would certainly improve her appearance and Dirk would find her even MORE appealing.

        • I’m waiting for Dirk’s comment on this. He has her address already – so he could mail her one of these with a sensual love note.

        • You know, there may be places where Dirk’s comments might be construed as something illegal along the lines of ‘cyber stalking’ or ‘cyber bullying’. I remember the joke at work after sexual harrassment training was, “you can say anything you want once, say it again and it’s harrassment”.

  1. Having a “safe word” seems like a great idea. Having people around you whom when they say “we need to leave, now.” In a firm tone and you not having to see if they are just joking or are serious can be a benefit as well.

  2. Exits that aren’t clearly marked, or main entrance/exit points should be looked at as secondary options, as well, should a panic type situation start to develop. Starts to get crowded really quickly when everyone goes for the same door. Avoid the urge to get your pistol out, until you’ve identified the threat.

    We also play a game to see if we can spot anyone printing a pistol on their belt line; perhaps bonus points? (Although arguably unprovable, unless you feel like asking the dude….)

  3. This is directed more at the younger folks here like myself, but for the love of John Moses Browning PUT DOWN THE SMARTPHONE!!!!!

    Yesterday I observed a man leave his car, enter my apartment building, and ascend a flight of stairs with his head aimed squarely at the iPhone 5 nestled in his palm.That guy was Condition Colorblind.

    • Admittedly, I’m guilty of this. I’m also Condition Disarmed because of the rules of my campus.

      I will say, the rear facing camera on my iPhone is good for discretely checking what’s going on behind me without making a big, sweeping head motion.

  4. So the Spaniards have developed a method of burying your head in the sand, up up ones a55, without actually having to perform the deed; what progress! I love it!

    No wonder their economy is a shambles.

  5. Due to the nature of my job, I HAVE to be aware of my surroundings. Not being aware could mean someone gets seriously hurt or killed. I work in a warehouse with a lot of forklift traffic, forklifts operated by drivers who pay about as much attention to where they’re going as the average commuter. I have to watch for them because they are not watching for me.

  6. OK, now that several minutes have passed. I’ve cleaned off my monitor, wiped off the keyboard,
    oh geez
    My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought, cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives…

  7. That is the dumbest f*cking thing I have ever seen, bar none. The inflatable tray table pillow comes a close second. The fact that products like these go through the design, prototyping, manufacturing and sales phases without ANYONE saying “Hold up, are we being f*cking retarded, guys?” erodes my faith in humanity as an intelligent, rational species. Nice work Spain, not long ago you were conquering the world, and now you’re doing this sh*t. Maybe the Spanish government can fix their economy by employing their population in factories which produce helmets and crayons for f*cking idiot Spaniards.

  8. That head pillow mask thing would not work for me. Tinnitus and all. I prefer background noise. Also… It’s damn ridiculous lmao

  9. The thing is a rape helmet. Just throw it on your victim, or, better yet find one already wearing it. Put your hands in the ports to keep it over the eyes then run off into the night when done.

  10. I wonder if RF and co keep a personal FAVORITE section of articles with ASTOUNDNGLY funny comments.

    this one has to make the HOF

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