“A coin collector and Sherlock Holmes fan, Snigdha Nandipati [not shown] aced the word ‘guetapens,’ a French-derived word that means an ambush or a trap, to outlast eight other finalists and claim the trophy along with more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.” You can read more about Miss Snigda’s triumph at csmonitor.com. Meanwhile, I’d like to address the fatiferousness of guetapens, and how they can be avoided, starting with the simple fact that anyone who intends to do you harm will prepare to do you harm and, most likely, set a trap to do it . . .
Why would’t they? Criminals may be stupid but they’re not dumb. If nothing else, they instinctively survive according to the law of the jungle. Regulation One: predators get their prey through speed, surprise and violence of action. And if the perp is too whacked-out to do anything quickly, and too drugged-up to act violently, they will still depend on the element of surprise.
While much ado is made of situational awareness, most armed citizens doing the “head on a swivel thing” are looking at people. Scanning them for physical clues (dress, demeanor, posture, etc.) to see if the stranger(s) want to do them arm. Nothing wrong with that but . . .
How’s this for a piercing glimpse into the obvious: your assailant will hide. A perp who plans on an attack (best practice from their POV) will find a place where you can’t see them but they can see you. Or nearasdammit. A corner of a building. A bush. Behind a car.
Surprise! Guetapens. Ambush. So here are three ways not to be taken unawares and, thus, lose any hope of a strategic advantage.
1. Stay away from potential ambush locations
It’s a variation of ye olde “Avoid stupid people in stupid places doing stupid things.” Avoid places where perps predate.
At nighttime, why would you go through a public park when you could stick to the street with lighting and traffic? Cut through an alley? I don’t think so. When you’re going to the bathroom at a rowdy club, use a locked stall (better than a urinal).
Im not recommending agoraphobia or encouraging shy bladders. But I am saying you should think like a perp. Where would YOU hide if you were going to attack someone? If you have a choice, don’t go there. If you go there, go carefully.
2. Pie public spaces
Just as you might “pie” a room during a bump in the night scenario (“move in a determined and continuous arc or line around the entryway with the weapon at, or close to, eye level. As you move in the arc or line ‘pie shaped’ slices are revealed to you and threats assessed and eliminated” – thefireingline.com), “pie” entrances to public places. A slight detour can be the difference between life and death.
3. Scan places, not just people
If you see a foot poking out from a corner at a time or place that gives you pause, give that corner wide berth. Or, indeed, cross the street. Or turn around. If you’re in a parking garage, look for perp bits peeking out from behind surrounding vehicles. If you have the choice, park away from other vehicles. Or near an exit. Or both.
Don’t let familiarity shelter criminal contempt—especially when approaching your home or office.
It’s worth repeating: there is no such thing as a random attack. It may random for you, the victim. You may have been chosen at random. But an attack is, by it’s nature, intentional. Be ready.