Thank you all for your replies. I'm new enough at this that I don't know where to draw lines between watchfulness and paranoia.
I'm going to start parking farther away in large lots -- when I can -- for all the good reasons listed here. Too bad it's 90+ degrees and 95% humidity for 6 months of the year down here.
I think that's part of my problem. I live in a government-assisted apartment complex, and will for another year or two. (Long story.) I can certainly drive past our building and come around again. That's doable. But it's almost impossible not to part in the midst of other cars. I don't drive a truck or SUV, so I can't really see beyond any other cars. I grab my purse, keys, lunch stuff, mail, a book I read at lunch, plus 2 or 3 gallons of milk every other day, and lug it between 2 buildings up to my door. I can keep my head on a swivel, but if I had to draw, I would have to drop a bunch of stuff first. I'd lose.First do a threat assessment. These attacks can happen anywhere, but you are at an elevated risk in certain parts of town at certain places in town, at certain times of day.
It is frustrating when I hear the men say "I always keep a hand free." It's a rare day when I have a hand free, and uncommon when I'm not loaded down with other stuff. [rant ended before it began.] And the times I actually have both hands free feel so weird that I almost feel undressed.
There are little to no lights in our apartment parking lot, though I do try to park around lights when I'm elsewhere. But I've heard others say "DON'T take your time getting out. Get out of your car as quickly as you can; don't dawdle."ALWAYS park near a light after dark so you can see what's going on around you. Take your time about getting out. This will allow you to get all your "stuff" together. ALWAYS have your weapon handy, in your purse, holster, belt, whatever. Immediately survey your surroundings when you get out of the car. Nobody will surprise you, they may approach you but there will be time to react. Some advice that a lawman gave to me a long time ago. "Don't look like a victim and you probably won't be one!"
I do look around when I get out. And I have my head on a swivel the whole way in between the buildings. It's that momentary time when you open the door and someone sticks a gun in your face that I fear.
It's also frustrating when people say "have a way out when you're waiting in traffic." I drive a 4-lane (each) main street to work and back, 10 miles each. Unless you're at the front of the line, there IS NO way out if the SHTF. (sigh)
I'm trying hard to be in condition yellow most of the time (though it's more difficult than I thought). So I don't think I look like a victim. But -- heh -- I was born a worrier, and I'll die a worrier.
A couple of weeks ago someone tried our doorknob at about 1:30 in the morning. Son and daughter were downstairs. Son grabbed his gun (which was a few feet away), but the dude walked off.
Last night we lost power at about 10:15 p.m., and at 11:15 my 16-year-old daughter and I were walking out to my car with a laundry basket and small suitcase, to spend the muggy night at my ex-husband's house. (No jokes, please. My daughter let me sleep in her bed.) On the way out, one guy was loitering against a (his?) car trunk, watching us, and others were on their balcony, watching us. I felt like a spotlight was on us. I hated to leave the apt, figuring we'd get burgled while we were gone. (We didn't.)
This whole new mindset is hard to get used to. I wish I didn't have to. I wish my mother and sister wouldn't look at me and my sons as if we were weird, and tell us we don't have to have guns at *their* house, because they're not needed there. (Right!) I wish I didn't have to doubt and mistrust everyone I don't know, and some I do. It's not the way I've lived most of my life, and it makes me unhappy.
I was in the grocery store last night behind a 20-something woman-of-color and her young son (age 4?). He kept yelling "pick me up! pick me up!" and bumping into her, hard. She completely ignored him at first, then smacked him when she got tired of him. Never addressed his wants -- rightful or not. Hardly looked at him or talked to him. Not that his bad behavior should have been coddled. But she didn't address he behavior, tell him to behave, tell him she loves him but didn't have time to play now, Nothing. She did nothing but Ignore then Swat. He "screamed" then grinned back at me afterwards.
This, to me, is just a microcosm of the problems we have with many people. The only kind of attention they get is the bad kind, and all they know how to understand is the bad kind, and that's all they dish out for the rest of their lives. It's not limited to race. I've seen "white trash" do it too. It seems to be cultural, and definitely passed down through the generations.
I think parenting skills ought to be taught in school, since they're certainly not being taught at home. It's the most important job there is, and too many people are effing it up -- BADLY.
[off my soapbox now.]