April 26th, 2008 11:36 PM
5:30 on a Sunday evening
I don’t look for reasons to post. I’m too old to try to get attention by bragging or embellishing, and I have no need to play cop or cowboy. I’ve done my time in uniform, so I don’t need to look for excitement. But something happened today that I would like to share, even though it will open me up to some deserved criticism.
I spent the entire day running around town with the wife and daughter. I was armed, as always. We shopped at numerous stores for hours. This evening at 5:30, still broad daylight, we headed out again for one last stop. Daughter got in the vehicle which was in the garage, with garage door closed. I stepped into the garage and was waiting for the wife to follow (she was right behind me) so I could set the alarm, lock the kitchen door, and leave. At that moment, the doorbell rang. My instincts told me not to raise the garage door, as that would put the girls at risk if anything went wrong. But rather than go back inside the house, walk across 2 rooms, get the key, and unlock the front door, I hit the button to raise the garage door. (Mistake #1) My reasoning was that it was probably just a salesman or a kid, and if not, I was carrying, in case something unexpected happened.
I’m at the rear of the garage farthest from the outside, between our two vehicles. (Mistake #2, as now I’m boxed in.) As the garage door opens, I see an individual walking toward the opening between the vehicles on the other end. He’s probably early 20’s, scruffy looking, unkempt hair, faded t-shirt and jeans, an earring in each ear (sorry to stereotype for you 2-earring guys, but he looked very out-of-place for our neighborhood). What started my instincts kicking in was that this guy looked very street-wise and dishonest. Can’t explain that, but his eyes and movements weren’t those of an innocent teenager selling candy bars.
He stops at the end of the vehicles, boxing me in. He’s smiling, but he is observing me intently, and his eyes are unsettling. He starts saying how he’s just out meeting people in the neighborhood, wanting to get to know everyone. All this time both his hands are moving all around, never staying still, making constant movements around his head and shoulders. Our conversation goes something like this:
Him: “Hi, I’m out in the neighborhood trying to meet people tonight. How ya doin’?”
Me: “We were just leaving. Are you selling magazines?”
Him: “I’m just trying to be friendly and meet people.”
Me: “Sorry, we are on our way out.”
Him: “I’m trying to get to Europe.”
Now, initially, I had gotten quite close to him. But by this time, I was backing away, and was about 6 feet from him. His hands had been moving all around in big swings the entire time, and it seemed like he was trying to distract me.
I realized I had erred in letting him get this close to my family, but that thought was not predominant in my mind. What was predominant was that this man was a threat, right in front of me, and it was real. This was an unexpected event, the timing not of my choosing, just like I read about all the time. On reflection now, I realize I had tunnel focus at the time: I was not aware of any traffic outside, or of anything other than this stranger’s eyes, voice, and hands. Something about this guy was not right. He wouldn’t admit he was selling anything, yet he wanted to engage me in conversation. He was watching me very closely, and I was boxed in.
Somewhere in his rambling and gesticulations I saw his left hand reach down behind his back, flip his t-shirt up, and grab something. Meanwhile, he’s still moving the other hand all over and talking a blue streak.
I made no conscious decision to do or say what came next. I reacted as I had trained. All at the same time, I turned sideways, focused my eyes on his left hand, jammed my right hand into my crotch and grabbed the grip of my weapon, and spoke:
Me: “Keep your hands where I can see them.” (I know about the OODA loop, and how if he reacted by pulling a pistol, I would be reacting to his action, which would probably give him the jump on me. But I could tell he wasn’t expecting my action, so I had the advantage at the moment.)
Him: “You serious?”
Me: ….focused on his left hand, saying nothing.
Him: “You serious?”
Slowly, he moves his left hand around the front of his body, and he is holding a long, leather logbook of sorts. If only he had admitted to me earlier he was a salesman (assuming he was).
Him: “You a cop?”
Me: “We need to leave.”
There I stood, hand down my crotch, focused like a laser on this stranger. I wasn’t smiling. So he stands and stares for a bit, then he turns and walks down my driveway, raising his arms and yelling, “Man, dude’s jacked up on something! Dude’s jacked up!”
He may have been selling something, but I’m not certain he was unarmed. My instincts were in overdrive based on his… mostly his nonverbal actions and his eyes.
So my wife gets in the car and as we’re driving away, this is our conversation:
Her: “You scare yourself sometimes.”
Me: “What you saw was EXACTLY how people get robbed in broad daylight. Someone comes up pretending to be friendly, and then they rob or worse.”
Her: “You’re not friendly.”
Me: “My primary goal in life is to make sure you, our daughter, and I survive and make it home tonight. Being friendly is fine, but it’s not a priority to me. My primary goal is to see that you, her, and I stay alive. If I DON’T trust him, and I’m wrong, nothing bad happens to us. If I TRUST him and I’m wrong, we’re in trouble. And if he takes me out, you and our daughter are in real trouble.”
She didn’t pursue the conversation, probably because she didn’t want to hear my justifications, which I surely would have continued to give her.
I know I did some things wrong.
1) Opened the garage door when my instincts told me not to. The entire event could have been avoided had I not opened the door.
2) Allowed him to get with 3 feet of me. He stopped at the end of our vehicles, but I approached him initially before I started backing off.
3) Although I shut the conversation down fairly quickly, I should have shut it down quicker.
4) I told him to keep his hands where I could see them, effectively giving him permission to bring his left hand, and whatever he had in it, to the front of his body.
I believe I did some things right:
1) Had my weapon with me.
2) Had my weapon in a readily-accessible holster. (I know some will disagree about the SmartCarry being readily accessible, but my hand was firmly on the grip before I even thought about it.)
3) Was willing to use it if I saw steel or polymer in his hand coming around his hip.
4) Kept my focus on the hand that went behind his back, and not the other hand, his eyes, or his voice.
Some other observations:
I was not thinking “Oh crap, this can’t be happening to me!” I was aware it was a real situation, and I was engaging him, not stuck asking myself what to do next. Somehow I was reacting fluidly in the moment. I believe much of this is from the mental preparation I’ve done by reading this forum, as well as observing people and trying to stay situationally aware as I’m out in public—condition yellow, I guess.
Some of you may think I’ve made a mountain out of a molehill. Maybe so, but I’m the one who looked into his eyes, and I don’t like what I saw. I know street-wise dishonesty when I see it.
I commend anyone trying to earn an honest dollar. If this guy was legitimate, at least he was trying do some honest work… but I don’t appreciate him not answering my question when I asked if he was selling. Had I not felt he was being evasive, perhaps I would have let down my guard and wouldn’t have been so quick to think he was going for a weapon when his hand disappeared behind his back.
On reflection, I may have overreacted. Given the same situation again, assuming I would be stupid enough to open the garage door again, I still would not trust him.
I relay this event for two reasons:
1) I’ve learned from reading on this forum about others’ experiences, even those that weren’t life-threatening. So perhaps someone can at least learn what NOT to do from reading about this event.
2) I know what I’m like. Ain’t no big deal if others find out. A little public humiliation ain’t the end of the world for me. And like I said, I’ll return the favor of posting so maybe someone can learn from my mistakes.
So, other than my obvious screw-ups, any observations? Do you agree with my wife that I’m just trying to scare myself?
P.S. My wife, daughter, and I made it home safely tonight. Another successful day.
April 26th, 2008 11:49 PM
That's not just a good thing, that's the only thing.
Originally Posted by grady
April 26th, 2008 11:50 PM
Good job. I don't think you over-reacted, it seems to me that though you may have been caught off-guard a bit, you regained control of the situation and maintained that position. A commanding voice and intent gaze can position the odds in your favor.
Turn the election's in 2014 to a "2A Revolution". It will serve as a 1994 refresher not to "infringe" on our Second Amendment. We know who they are now.........SEND 'EM HOME. Our success in this will be proportional to how hard we work to make it happen.
April 26th, 2008 11:52 PM
It's Sunday already? I lost Saturday!!! LOL.
Well it sounds like you already knew what you did wrong and hopefully will not do it again. You are not trying to scare yourself, just trying to make everyone in your family safe. Family comes first!!!
When he reached around you just reacted like anyone would have by giving him a stern command and sticking to it.
You did good in my Book!!!
April 26th, 2008 11:58 PM
You made it out and back safely. No morgue and no jail time. Looks good to me.
You didn't mention in your note, but one last important detail I think would have been to call the police and report the 'incident'. It would hopefully keep someone else who is less prepared from dealing with it. It may also help that you called police in case he happens to call. You didn't reveal your weapon to him, but he probably knew what you had and could have played the innocent victim card and made up a story that you pulled a gun on him. Just because he could.
You calling first would pre-empt that situation.
Good job in any case.
April 26th, 2008 11:58 PM
Jehovah's witness, man with a psych disorder or trying to sell those stupid magazines.
You can't second guess your gut instinct. You have to learn from your experiences and that is life long.
Your protecting your wife which is obvious because she feels very comfortable around strangers, but then again thats your job to protect.
Dude was violating your space and needed a reality check.
“I’m just trying to be friendly and meet people.”
Him: “I’m trying to get to Europe.”
Asking for money, trying to get your attention diverted or mental issues. Heck, I've asked people I sorta knew to "take a step back" because the guy was within arm length of me, we all know the type.
Something was fishy there. Even if it was a false alarm I'd rather slightly over react then to be in white or only yellow alert and need to jump to red and black.
Spent time in uniform? Military or police?? You've got training from either that you've got to trust.
P.S. My wife, daughter, and I made it home safely tonight. Another successful day.
April 27th, 2008 12:16 AM
Apply whatever lessons you've learned from the encounter, but don't dwell on it.
Originally Posted by grady
In this case, the ends justified the means.
Being friendly is overrated.
April 27th, 2008 12:28 AM
I think it was most likely one of those magazine sales people. They come on like they are not trying to sell you anything because, as soon as they admit that they are, most people tell them to get lost. They always have the same goal "Im trying to earn a trip to somewhere."
A lot of times they say "I'm not trying to sell anything" to which I reply "Good 'cause I'm not trying to buy anything."
If I were you, I would get a "No Soliciting" sign and put it by your door. Then all you have to do is say read the sign and shut the door on them.
In retrospect, it sounds like you over-reacted a tad, but hindsight is 20/20, right? Better safe than sorry. No harm, no foul.
A scruffy looking dude at your front door isn't quite as shocking as one in your garage. God knows what motivates young ones sense of style these days. When I was a pre-teen, I used to go door to door, selling Christmas cards for extra $. Of course, everyone in the neighborhood knew who I was. Now, it seems like there are no neighborhoods, just places where random people live. Things sure have changed. I would hate to be a door to door salesperson these days.
Last edited by alfack; April 27th, 2008 at 12:34 AM.
April 27th, 2008 12:38 AM
Allot of young folks look like dirtbags, and he could have just been nervous about hitting people up for magazine subscriptions. I remember hating door to door raffle ticket sales for little league. I think you may have over reacted, but who cares! The thing is you didn't invite him to your door or into your garage. Your not going to call him next week for tea, he's just some random person in the world. If he was offended by your caution no big deal. if you or your family got hurt by lack of caution that would be a very big bad deal. Good job.
It is surely true that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make them drink. Nor can you make them grateful for your efforts.
April 27th, 2008 12:41 AM
I don't think you overreacted at all. Yes, you made a few mistakes. Welcome to the human race. This is specifically why they make those T-shirts at the flea market: Stuff happens. Once you realized your errors, I think you got back on track and were ready. Nice job! And you are right - this is EXACTLY how people get robbed (or worse) in broad daylight. Everyone suspects these guys as magazine sales people. THAT'S the mindset that will turn someone into an instant victim.
BE PREPARED - Noah didn't build the Ark when it was raining!
Si vis pacem, para bellum
NRA Life Member
April 27th, 2008 12:56 AM
Excellent! I do have to say that someone putting their hand in their pants apparently grabbing themself is not very intimidating though, LOL. That's one thing I don't like about my SmartCarry. I think you did just fine.
Gun control can be blamed in part for allowing 9/11 to happen.
"Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum" (Latin)- "If you want peace, prepare for war".
April 27th, 2008 01:09 AM
Even if he hadn't rung the doorbell unless you have outside video you can't see who or what might be lurking,also I look at a garage as being somebody's home and never enter without permission,somebody looking shady walks in i'm telling him jold it i don't know you.They have had people killed in their garages by people walking in on them.The bad thing about driving into a garage with an overhead door is if somebody dives under the door without tripping the obstruction beam you become trapped in the garage with them and a lot of people drop their guard once they park their car.I hate people going door to door for any reason unless they got girl scout cookies
"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country,"
--Mayor Marion Barry, Washington , DC .
April 27th, 2008 01:35 AM
I think you responded reasonably considering the situation. By your own admission, you made it a bit more difficult by being in the garage with your family in a less than ideal place.
Had you moved to the front door to greet him, you would not have had to be as assertive. Under the circumstances, I think you reacted properly, maybe not tell him you were leaving.
April 27th, 2008 03:54 AM
Sounds to me as though you did fine. Your "radar" was on and working just fine, it seems. Those little hairs on the back of the neck are there for good reason. Listen to them, since they are frequently right in their assessment of things.
The man was a stranger, he gesticulated broadly (drugs, angry, criminal?), looked scruffy, would not reply to being a salesman, strangely indicated he's "trying to get to Europe," approached very close inside your own garage, saw your garage's contents, saw your family, he knew you were leaving (you told him that), he was intently focused on you, there was "something" about his eyes that was unsettling, then he decided that a quick movement behind the back was just the ticket to ally your fears.
Your warning bells were going off. Occasionally, they're wrong. But when you stack up a half-dozen or more signs together, you can have a pretty good first impression of someone. I'd say that you were right on target. At best, his delivery sucked to high heaven. At worst, you were being interviewed and targeted ... perhaps even by an armed felon bent on destruction of everything you have.
You fail to recognize those signs and react, in the wrong situation, and your family's dead. You simply draw the line and demand that someone go elsewhere, he may leave bummed but your family is okay.
Now, there's only one remaining thing: who was he? Did your other neighbors have him approach and give a spiel? He indicated he was "just meeting people in the neighborhood," yes?, so he must have contacted someone else both before and after you. Some neighbor has him on film, on the remote video, or someone spoke with him. Time to explore the neighbors and their experience that day.
Keep one thing in mind: he knows where you live, and you don't know who he was. On that note, keep your "radar" up for the next few weeks, in the event this guy matches your first impressions and decides to take another step toward that all-expenses-paid trip to Europe he was blathering about. Caution is due, because (as you say) your family's well-being is your goal. The rest is irrelevant, by comparison.
If the engagement was chilling enough, perhaps speak with your sheriff. Perhaps the guy's technique is well-known. Perhaps, even, this guy is a regular. The sheriff might know and have some suggestions about the danger.
While it's hardly my place, as I don't know you or your family, here's something to consider. Your family doesn't seem on-board with the concept. You indicate that your wife's response was to claim you anti-social. Yet, my guess is she didn't see/hear what you did. Either it's latent anti-gun fears rising to the surface, or she/you have a problem seeing situations for what they are. Time to talk, if that's the case, 'cause part of your response plan is going to depend on your family's ability and willingness to be a part of it.
Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
self defense (A.O.J.).
How does disarming
the number of victims?
Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos)
NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.
April 27th, 2008 04:49 AM
I really learned from you on this one. It gave me a reason to think about what I would do in the same situation. Would I make the same mistakes and react as you did. Thanks for the post.
John Steinbeck: Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he's too old to fight, he'll just kill you.
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