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.