Me and My Shadow

See something, say something. How many times have we heard that saying since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States? But do we take it seriously all these years later?

It’s not just about terrorism — domestic or otherwise. There are other threats or potential ports of danger that should make us pay more attention to our surroundings than our cellphones.

Road rage, unemployment, divorce and child custody disputes, unhealthy relationships, fired co-workers, debt, discrimination and more than ever, drug addiction, are some of the leading causes of violence and crime in our country today. And greater numbers of people are legally arming themselves so you never know who has a weapon when you accidently bump into them.

More and more I find myself looking over my shoulder whenever I’m out and about, day or night. I actually realized the meaning of “scared of my own shadow” on an early morning walk into work. I was parked in the intermodal transportation center and began walking toward the exit, when I felt a shadow on me. I jumped and turned around quickly, only to realize it was my own shadow! But it made me jump a bit thinking someone was following me. Seems silly now, but I still look around before getting out of or into my car.

I have found myself parking closer to the doors of the stores I visit, especially at night. I know health experts tell us to park a greater distance from the door to get the benefits of those few extra steps. However, the scourge of drug addiction and the uptick in crime that has accompanied it tell me otherwise.

I have been approached in a number of parking lots by people seeking money. Their stories are always the same: “I need gas money to take my father to the doctor or I’m from out of town and my wallet was stolen at the rest stop.” I’ve heard other tales from strangers unsteady on their feet and glassy-eyed.

When you go into a club or restaurant, do you scan the room for the exits? Do you sit with your back to the door? I don’t if I can help it. I like to see who is coming in the door. Maybe it’s the newswoman in me or the safety issues my retired firefighter husband has drilled into my head. I have learned to pay attention to my surroundings.

I believe we have all gotten better, too. A recent incident at a large box store convinced me that the mothers of the world are the best watchdogs. A little girl began crying out for her mother as the two obviously became separated in the store. The cries of this child brought an immediate response from at least five women near the child. Without a word, they surrounded and comforted the child until the frantic mother appeared seconds later.

Homeland Security could learn a few lessons from Ohio Valley mothers. See something, say something, please.

Heather Ziegler can be reached via email at hziegler@theintelligencer.net.

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