(CBS Charlotte) — Last Saturday someone tried to grab me out of my car in a parking lot. In that moment I realized that I can actually fight — and that I have guardian angels because thank God for some good citizens, security guards, and my practice kicking while cheering in the NFL — I won that fight. But there’s nothing like an attempted adult-napping and/or auto theft (we’re not really sure which one) to inspire a blog about public safety. I just want all women out there to learn from my own mistakes, and perhaps I’ll even learn to heed my own advice in exchange.
Stupid move #1: Walking to the car alone
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever walk to your car alone. Even Justin Bieber would say never to do that. That’s obvious, right? Well after a bouncer and coworker offered to walk me to my car, I insisted on walking alone because I was more concerned with eating and wanted to stop at Mattie’s Diner to get some food to-go … bad idea. I didn’t need the calories anyway. I thought that since I was in a relatively crowded parking lot that I’d be fine. I thought wrong. I never did get to eat that Mattie’s Diner either, dang it.
Stupid move #2: Assuming a guy following you is just hitting on you
Just like there’s a difference between a guy offering to walk you to your car to make sure you’re safe vs. trying to get you alone to make a move on you, there’s a difference between a guy who wants to hit on you — and a guy who wants to hit you. The perv-perp was following behind me as I walked through the parking lot to my car shouting out the typical crap a jerk yells when he’s objectifying a woman. And I always feel rude if I don’t at least acknowledge the “compliment” and say hello or thanks while keeping it moving. But I should have taken note of his erratic behavior and slurred mumbled speech and kept it moving even faster, rather than just writing him off as a harmless drunk. Especially when he started shouting “I’m from Harlem,” which sounded more like he was saying “I’m from Holland.”
Stupid move #3: Not locking the door as soon as you get into the car
A car’s automatic locks don’t engage until the car is in drive. With the engine not even started, I reached over to buckle my seat-belt. And that’s when the perp-perv opened my door and was able to catch me off guard, grab me, and try to yank me out of my car. That said, I should have locked the doors manually as soon as I got in the car. But luckily, since I had buckled my seat-belt, he was unable to yank me out of the car.
Stupid move #4: Carrying about accessories more than necessity
Before I left the house that night I took the pepper spray off my key-chain so that my keys would fit into my pocket and I could avoid having to carry a purse. Apparently I left my brain at home that night too. But as I learned first hand, when you’re getting attacked, you will be so overcome with adrenaline you’ll feel like Superman doped up like Lance Armstrong. But you can’t rely on that alone. They say every girl should have a little black dress … well more importantly every girl should have something on hand to protect themselves with. Click here for some options.
Stupid move #5: Assuming that because it’s crowded and that there are security guards, that it’s secure
Just like when you take your eyes off of a child for one second, they’ll manage to get hurt within that second – same applies with adults and safety patrol officers. And all it takes is a second. Side note: when parking in a garage Uptown, park as close as you can to the elevator, no matter how high up you have to go. The value of a parking spot is in its safety, not convenience.
Underrated smart move #1 – SCREAM! A cry for help is a universal language, and because I was hitting the high notes like Mariah Carey, I had two groups of guys at my car within a minute saving the damsel in distress. A big thank you to them, and thank God for them.
Underrated smart move #1 – wearing heels.
Don’t underestimate the power of a good pair of high heels, because when you’re flinging those things at someone’s face with all your might, they make a pretty good weapon. In fact, the most vivid memory I have of the whole encounter was the crunch I felt under my foot when I was swinging my feet at him like Mike Tyson throws right hooks. And I actually went home feeling bad about that because I know that had to have hurt.
The stupidest move of all though, ladies, is thinking you can do it all alone. I’ve always fancied myself as a strong, independent woman and habitually reject any sort of help out of foolish pride. But truth is, I’m naive for ignoring danger and the need for help in regards to protecting myself, because I can’t do it all alone – at least not walk to the car anymore.
As it turns out, my attacker was a mentally ill homeless man. So I’ll never know the answers to my questions like “was he trying to steal my car, or me?” or “why would he do this.” I just know that I feel worse for him than I do for myself right now; I’ve already forgiven him. And quite frankly, I don’t mind that I had to go through that, if it teaches other women how to avoid going through it as well.