Between last post and this post, my fear of the “shooter” has increased. In September, I told my parents that until the US enacts gun control, I will not be returning. Then two months later, the shooters took over Paris. My fear won over when we cancelled our New Year’s trip to Brussels due to the media gaga of potential shooters.
I live in London. I can not live in London and fear shooters. What a waste that would be. While the media likes to remind me that shooters have targeted London, I take some solace in Londoners replies that “your grandparents knew they were being bombed; toughen up London.”
In trying to isolate the root of the fear, it’s not surprising it comes back to a lack of control. The shooter decides the where and the when, leaving the rest of us to imagine and worry about their decisions. I do not do well with lack of control.
I profile. Of course I do. If you ride the Tube, you have to enjoy both the diversity of humanity that surrounds you and the ability to make up little stories about them. My profiling tends to be along gender lines as opposed to racial. I think men can appear creepy, even when fancily dressed. In riding the tube and profiling, I keep asking myself, well, how would I gain control in a shooter situation?
My thorough Google research from articles and bulletin boards, searching “what do to shooter”, (and advice I’ve shared with my husband many times) only focuses on getting away from the situation: 1) running, 2) finding a bulletproof hiding spot, 3) trying to escape, and 4) playing dead, only as a last resort. Good advice, and I get it, who am I against a gun or incendiary device? But wouldn’t it be even a bit little handy to offer suggestions for “if you were going to imagine overtaking a shooter, here’s what to imagine”? Finding none, I’ve been working on my own three-prong strategy:
1. Protection: Immediately what I imagined I needed was the turns-their-face-green pepper spray that my dad bought my sister and I when we were oh…10 (6) or 12 (8). My sister and I kept it under our beds in the event of a break and entry. This was only one of the self defense devices, received as a gift from my father, of my youth.
Reflecting on this memory, I went to the Google to see where I could find the stuff and was shocked to find out that pepper spray is illegal to carry in the UK. Maybe not fully shocked, there are a lot of people here and that could get nuts. I did figure that they must have a suitable alternative. No. They don’t.
You can find the turns-their-face-green stuff, but that’s all it does – no pepper. You spray; the shooter turns green. The critics say it tends to anger the shooter more than anything else. No kidding.
The alternative recommendation? Spray deodorant. Sprayable and will sting the eyes creating time to escape. Spray deodorant. Finally, I understand why there is so much spray deodorant sold in the UK. Never a fan of the type, I’ve been flummoxed as to why anyone buys it. It. Does. Not. Work. Of course, now I understand, it’s not for deodorizing; it’s for personal safety. Clever and handy. Back in control. I now have big and little sizes in easy to reach locations for those imagined shooter events.
2. Muscles: In my early twenties, I enrolled in Kempo Karate for a couple of years. I still have names of moves in my brain – the monkey, the bear, the grasshopper. True, they’ve never really been tried out on anyone, but it’s muscle memory, right? To get those muscles ready I re-upped my commitment to attending Bootcamp. It wasn’t the only reason, but I do admit that imaginary shooters were a portion of the reason. Now my tube profiling includes who I think I could “take” with my current muscle magnitude.
3. Anger: I find the whole thing infuriating. As a member of the human race, you don’t get to go shoot people. (Yes, there’s room for historical commentary on why extremism exists here and systemic critique and yada yada.) So, shooters tap into the jar of rage that I keep tucked inside in order to live a quiet, everyday life.
Channel Four ran a documentary called The Jihadi’s Next Door this week. I haven’t quite figured out if they’ve simply fanned the flames of fear and chaos or actually helped to show that moderate sentiment exists in Britain, in the majority of Muslims. One key takeaway that the producers did well to portray is a deep, deep need by the extremists to feel important. That’s not terribly surprising. We all do. The tactics used by these extremists – the provocation on the street, strategically increasing provocation to increase reaction, the delight of their views on social media, and fast-talking/yelling at authority – are not so foreign to me. I’ve seen them in young, angry males in high school and college. I think I got less angry at their antics back then; even finding myself in awe of their personality or charisma or their passion in their beliefs. But I haven’t got time for that neediness now, I’ve already got a toddler.
Then, the solution to the fear? The take-back-the-control caricature? An self-defense aficionado mom with a little too much pent-up rage, who hopes to look like Lara Croft shortly, carrying her spray deodorant and her verbal collection of curse words with her keys between her fingers aiming for anything on the center line of the body.
I hope I’ll never have to find out if it works.
Image courtesy of Breakfast on Pluto. (I haven’t seen the movie (of course I haven’t; it’s not a kids movie), but the image and synopsis was too apt not to use.)