Protection at Ohio univ. + poor response on campus
Hi everyone...a bit here with questions about the best defense with my situation and also a story about my poor reaction to what turned out to be a harmless encounter:
I recently started graduate school and commute about 45 minutes to my school. On all but one day, my classes let out in the late afternoon, when there are plenty of students around and it's still light outside. However, on one day of the week, I'm not done until after 8:15 pm, and it's getting darker and darker each week around that time. I can't park next to the building; I have to park across a small drop-off road (part of the campus...just a turn-around) and behind another campus building. This lot is accessed by a bunch of stairs surrounded on the left (as you're walking up) by bushes/trees that wind up to the elevated lot. View of the lot from the main road is somewhat blocked by a line of bushes; the only people driving by who can see it are those who turn into the drive that then turns into the lot. It's pretty isolated, especially since the building it's in front of isn't too busy at night.
I have a stack of books, usually, and am juggling those, my car keys, a purse (I should have mentioned earlier that I'm female), and trying to get safely to my car is worrisome.
I had a scare last week where I reacted in what I believe was a poor manner:
I decided to make an "illegal" (by campus police standards) left turn into the lot's drive because I was running late. I didn't cut anyone off to do this, but the car that turned right also turned into the lot with me. It was a silver Mercedes, and initially parked next to me. I saw the driver looking at me carefully, which should have set off alarm bells, but I was more focused on the spot being too far away from the stairs and instead moved my car to another spot closer to the building. I forgot about the man and parked, then had just finished getting my stuff out of the car and locked it when I heard "Miss, Miss!"
Having lived in an urban area in undergraduate school with a decent amount of panhandlers and bums, I felt annoyed and ready to start hoofing it to the stairs, but didn't immediately because he came into view and was an older, very nicely dressed man who I realized was the man from the silver Mercedes. He began to lecture me about the possibility of a big fine from my left turn; and I stayed to tell him off for the lecture, and also for approaching a female alone in a parking lot. I realized he was probably faculty for the business school (the building right there), but I never should have given an approaching stranger the time of day! He continued his mini-lecture and I cut it off and walked away at that point.
Anyway, it's given me a lot to think about - if he had been dressed in an average or poor way, I would have ignored him and headed for the stairs, but because he was nicely dressed I assumed he was 1) safe and 2) harmless faculty and decided to stop and "chat."
I'm hoping for some suggestions on being defensive with all that I have to carry (I'm afraid a bookbag would be worse because of the potential for grabbing it and me along with it, right?) and the setup of the lot. None of my classmates park in that lot, so I can't walk with a buddy. I do have Mace, but it's hard to hold that and my keys along with everything else. Suggestions? Even if I was allowed to carry on campus...I'd never be able to draw it in time with all of my "stuff."