A couple weeks ago I went on a rant in this blog space about people who bury their heads in their phones, and walk right into folks because of their refusal to look ahead. Now I have a second related rant--although this is more like a public service announcement than anything else.
This morning I had just completed my 5-mile run in the 70-degree Wednesday morning weather, and I was doing my little cool down walk before I headed back in the house. For my cool down walk, I removed my headphones, put my iPod in my pocket, and I just walked slowly and tried to think relaxing, cool thoughts. I was sweaty, tired, and in need of water. I do not believe I looked menacing or threatening, but who knows.
While I was walking I noticed a woman about 200 yards or so in front of me. She had on a short, free-flowing sundress as the ladies are wont to do in warm weather, she had on sunglasses, headphones and her head was buried in her phone. She did not notice the gentleman on the bike who was trying to pass her from behind, but could not do it easily because she was walking erratically. She also did not notice my sweaty ass getting ready to walk by (but into) her. I wanted to make lots of exaggerated noise and yell "heads up", but frankly I was too tired to and unable to expend any extra energy besides walking and cooling down.
Eventually this woman was two steps away from me, when she finally decided to look up and see me getting ready to walk by. She screamed (not a loud orgasmic scream, just a muted yelp like a dog who is ready to be taken outside) and dropped her phone.
Her: Oh my God you scared the sh*t out of me
Me: And good morning to you too
Her: Oh my God, that was so scary
Me: Well you did have your head in your phone, I'm just getting ready to walk in my house. Have a good day.
As I walked towards my house I noticed that she put her headphones right back in, buried her head right back in her phone and acted like nothing had happened. This is how folks get robbed or worse. I'm not implying that I live Chicago or anything, but I do live in a semi-gentrified area, and rich, entitled folks are sometimes targeted because of their carefree, I'm-going-to-act-like-I-own-the-city attitude. I'm not saying they can't do that, and I'm not saying anyone deserves to be profile and robbed. But I AM saying that it happens and you have to--as John Madden used to say--take the temperature of the room and adjust accordingly. You can wear headphones, but keep your head on a swivel and look at your surroundings every now and then--especially at 6:15 in the damn morning.
Even when I go running at 5am, I keep the volume on my iPod low, and I look up and around to make sure things are relatively safe. It isn't a foolproof method of safety, but it is much better than the hear-no-evil-see-no-evil method I see used all over this city. Plus, if I can be candid, I am not too keen on having white women screaming in my direction at any hour of the day, especially when I've done nothing wrong. The optics on that--even in a progressive city like DC--are just all wrong, and I don't want to be a 2016 version of Emmett Till. That may be a slight exaggeration, but you get my point right?