Tuesday, January 6, 2015


What was the hair colour of the last person you met today before coming home? Don't look. What shoes is your partner wearing?

People go around without looking. Now, looking for certain things is a trained skill. If you travel with a biologist, he won't see the same things while trekking than a geologist, or a car mechanic, or an amateur astronomer.

That's a part of it. The other is that we really, in Western urban societies, don't look. For example, someone was trying to get a gift these last Christmas. I was going through the old quarters, and I passed by a fabrics shop. They had, right on the window, several children's wicker chairs, painted and with a simple fabric design tied to the back rest. Basically, one of the things they were looking for. So I called them, and told them where it was. I had to give the full address, since the approximate place (so and so square, East side) wasn't enough.

It's the only such shop there. A shop where they had bought things before and they'd been very pleased with.

My qualm is not that they didn't realize the shop had children's chairs. You see these things when you look for them. My qualm is that they hadn't realized it was the only such shop there.

It's a small thing, but it adds up. How many exits are there from that square? Basically, five; the rest are variations (several of them; it's one of those small old places). How many trouble spots? How many safe spots? Which ones are open?

Because things are not clear cut. You perimeter can't be the same at rush hour than at 3 am. Among other things, your reaction is probably slower at that time and visibility. To react, you need time, and looking well saves you that time. "He's too near" is different if he just hopped off the bus than if he's been closing in for the last 10 yards, hand hidden in his pocket. [*]

But you have to look. And if you do, if you shed that "anything between work and home aint' my business", you'll find other things. Useful shops, cute girls, nice unknown buildings or parks. And so on. And also exit venues, weapons... and you'll have a vibe that will already make a lot of muggers avoid you [+].

Take care.

[*] I don't believe much in spotting hidden weapons. Frankly, if I did roam those places, I might, and then I'd use misdirection. I do believe much more in available weapons. Chairs, bottles, poll balls and cues, shoes, ashtrays... But it's much easier to avoid those (or grab them) if you are aware of them, if you look.

[+] A lot of muggers. Beware of the ones that still close in. They're either clueless (and dangerous) or they know what they're getting into. And, for God's sake, don't use that awareness and those people avoiding you, to get all macho. You'll be climbing the ladder in the violence system... and there will still be people above you.

No comments: