I’m not a predator. I’m just your friendly neighbor, sitting innocuously on the staircase of our shared apartment building, or sitting on the curb in our parking lot, or even (not gracefully) walking around the apartment complex.
I’m not a threat to you in any way. But, theoretically, I could’ve been.
Which is why I get concerned for you when you get within arm’s reach of me and you don’t notice me until the last minute, gasping and saying, “oh my gosh! You scared me!”
As if it’s my fault.
Lady (it’s usually a lady; I have yet to scare a man in this way), I didn’t do anything. I wasn’t doing anything. I’m sitting here, out in the open, probably not saying anything, but also not attempting to conceal my presence. Or I’m walking around, (again, usually not gracefully), around the apartment parking lot. You are the one who wasn’t paying attention. You’re the one who, had I been a predator, would have been in serious danger. Had I been that predator, I would’ve been able to snatch you up and whisk you away. You’re the one who would’ve never seen me coming. It would have been too easy.
And I was indeed in plain view. I wasn’t hiding in the bushes. It’s not like I was wearing a black suit and ski mask, waiting for an unsuspecting victim. I was out in the open. And yet, you didn’t notice me. You were oblivious.
It’s usually not that you were engrossed in Facebook on your smartphone. I don’t know what you were looking at, preoccupied with, or thinking about that demanded your attention, diverting it away from your immediate surroundings. I don’t know what gives you that false sense of security; I know that outside of my own apartment walls, anything is possible. Even when I am checking my Facebook when out walking around, I make sure to be aware of my surroundings. I never let anyone get so close as to be able to scare me like that.
I, sitting where I was, doing what I was doing, should never have been able to scare you. You should’ve been able to see me from a mile away. You should’ve never been able to get so close to me as to be surprised by my presence.
Look up. Pay attention. Be aware. You don’t have to be paranoid or hyper-vigilant, per se, but you should at least be maintaining a panoramic awareness of what–and who–is around you. If you’re not, then you are an easy target. If you are, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Rest assured, you’re safe with me. I would never, and will never, be a threat to you. I will never capitalize on or take advantage of your inattention. But never take anyone or anything for granted.
The next person who surprises you might not be so harmless.