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A Stranger, Me and an ATM

A Girl and Her Gun: A Stranger, Me and an ATM

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Stranger, Me and an ATM

The other day I had a check that needed to be deposited.  I did not need the funds immediately, so I decided to use my banks ATM machine.  When I pulled into the parking lot, I noticed that is was fairly empty and that there was only one person in line for the ATM machine.  By the time I parked and got to the line the woman who was in line was now at the machine.  She had her back to the street and thus to me.  I walked up leaving ample distance as that is the polite thing to do.  I was surprised that she didn't turn around to see who was coming up behind her, but I didn't think a lot about it.

Five minutes pass and she is still doing her thing.  Her back still to me and never once looking over her shoulder.  This bank does not have a mirror or even a window that one could glance up at to see who might be in line.  I take a scan of the parking lot for my own situational awareness and then look back at her.  I look at my watch and notice it has been well over 10 minutes.  Still, she stands there, never taking her eyes off of the screen in front of her.

My mind starts to wonder and I think, does this woman not know how dangerous this is?  Then I think how dangerous is it?  It's broad day light in what appears to be a busy parking lot with several cars parked and the entrance to the bank only steps away.  Who would attack someone here?

I look at my watch again and it has now been 17 minutes.  In that time only one car has driven by and only one person walked across the lot, face down in his cell phone.  I looked around again and I saw a plain white van.  It appeared to be some kind of work van, but it did not have any names or markings that would identify it as such.

Two more minutes go by and I am agitated. I want to tap this woman on the shoulder and ask her if she realized I had been standing there?  Did she know how long it had been since she turned around to see anything?  I wanted to ask her if that white van pulled up to the curb, blocking the entire view of the ATM machine how easy it would be for someone to grab her and toss her in before she could yell.  I wanted to say for well over 17 minutes I stood behind you with a gun on my hip and if I were a bad guy, you would not be in such a good fighting position.  Even if someone spotted the van and the security cameras could track him down it would be a good bit of time that you would be alone with a bad guy. For the love of God, please take a look around once in a while.

I didn't.  I just stood there, looking and waiting until she was done.  I walked up to the machine and did my thing, all the while taking the time to scan and look and see who the man was that came up behind me to stand in line.  I walked back to my car, looking at the cars and as I did.  I got in my car and I was uneasy.  Not for me, but I kept thinking about that woman.  It's been about 4 days and I keep thinking about her.  I know she is safe and that is good.  I am glad I was the one behind her, but she is kind of a symbol in my mind for all the rest who don't pay attention.  Man, how I wished she would have turned around. 

28 Comments:

At March 6, 2012 at 8:46 AM , Blogger Michelle P said...

Wow that woman does not sound smart at all. I'm always scanning the areas around the ATM.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Mary said...

There are angels around us unaware. That day, you were her angel.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 8:53 AM , Blogger Jacked Up Glock Mom said...

OPSEC any where you go is the most important thing. unfortuantly not many people practice it. I have made a sort of game out of it. Hubby will pick out people to me, i take a glance then have to give him a description. I do it in parking lots as well with cars that go by. One of the most vulnerable times for a woman with small children is that time when she is getting them in or out of a car seat.. how many women don't think to keep their purses hung around their shoulders, but will leave them in a shopping cart while buckling up the kids,her back is turned and unaware...easy target.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 8:54 AM , Blogger poniegirl004 said...

I won't even walk up to a ATM unless someone I know is with me! When I go through the drive threw ATMs I am as fast as possible and I try not to put the car in park if I can avoid it.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 9:33 AM , Blogger Old NFO said...

Lots of brain dead folks out there, just remember you CAN'T be the sheepdog for them all... Maintain YOUR SA, and go on about your business!

 
At March 6, 2012 at 10:05 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

I know, that's why I didn't say anything. I will.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 10:07 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Me too! I make it game too. I always looked around at ATM's, but I was the poster child for easy target.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 10:08 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

I never think like that...thank you for being sweet to me.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 10:09 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Yeah, she just hasn't had a reason to be "smart" and hopefully she never will.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM , Blogger North said...

When I go grocery shopping many women leave their purses in the shopping cart open to the world and walk far away from the cart. I've mentioned to my wife that I need to have some business-card-size cards printed up that say "If I can get this into your purse so easily, no doubt a thief can take your money." I would probably get arrested for putting them in the purses, though. But I'm sure I would "plant" 5 a week.

Situational awareness works only if you have more than 3 brain cells.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 10:29 AM , Blogger eiaftinfo said...

This speaks volumes about how safe and secure our society is as a whole. And that's precicely why, when things go sideways, how terrified folks are. It "just never occured to them" that they could be attacked. It's nice to see one of the newest "sheep dogs" was on duty and staying aware.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 11:03 AM , Blogger AKgrrrl said...

Thank God you were there!

 
At March 6, 2012 at 11:13 AM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

I might not have been clear. There was no danger. The white van wasn't creepy. There wasn't even any one in it. It never moved and the woman was in no danger. I just was projecting my own desire for her to be aware and my mind kind of went out on a wild limb when I saw the van. Sorry if it sounded like I did anything. I didn't:)

 
At March 6, 2012 at 11:24 AM , Blogger North said...

Doesn't matter. Thousands of people with (and without) concealed weapons are out there being vigilant.

You extended yourself to protect an innocent person that you don't even know. That rates pretty high in my book, and in the Good Book.

You are a protector.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 11:56 AM , Blogger The Lost Goat said...

What can you DO at an ATM for 17 min? Crazysauce.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 1:01 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Yes, I kind of wondered that myself. The machine was slow, but not that slow.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 1:01 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

You are too kind.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 1:31 PM , Blogger Erin Palette said...

Change it to "ONTO your purse." That way you're just dropping it on top, rather than putting your hand in.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM , Blogger Kirk said...

North has a point. By carrying, you're not only protecting yourself, but, to a certain extent, protecting those around you, whether they know it or not. Whether the van was occupied or empty, your brain immediately assessed the situation, thought up a scenario, and planned for it. That is what I would call "situational awareness" and being ready. As stated above, you were that lady's angel for those 17 minutes.

As for what to do at an ATM for 17 minutes, my guess is she was trying to figure out how to send a text message or check her email, or change the channel...

 
At March 6, 2012 at 4:50 PM , Blogger Tango Juliet said...

I carry a can of Silly String and blast unaware folks.

No, not really, but it'd be fun I think. :)

 
At March 6, 2012 at 5:03 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

It's true, but honestly my town is getting very dangerous.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 5:04 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

That makes sense. Thanks to both of you.

 
At March 6, 2012 at 5:04 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

I wonder if Michael can make me a holster for that...

 
At March 6, 2012 at 8:12 PM , Blogger 45er said...

Not bright on situational awareness OR operating an ATM, apparently. Almost 20 minutes at an ATM? Yikes.

 
At March 7, 2012 at 3:00 PM , Blogger Flier389 said...

It is a real shame that more people do not pay attention to what goes on around them. When I was mugged, it was painful, and scared the you know what out of me. Since then, it is like my head is on a swivel.
Maybe the lady had some mental problems of some type. My son, who is 23, and special needs, takes about 5 to 7 minutes, to use the ATM. But he always has his Mom or step Dad or me along. He wants to be able to do things on his own, and has come along quite a way.

 
At March 7, 2012 at 4:52 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

Not fun! We sure learned a sucky lesson didn't we? It's good to know now!

 
At March 8, 2012 at 9:16 AM , Blogger EMac said...

The other day I realized just how *much* I have taken the idea of "situational awareness" and "living a defensive lifestyle" to heart. I had hockey tickets I couldn't use, and was giving them to my niece and her fiance. Since we live quite far apart, we agreed to meet up that afternoon at a rest area about halfway between our homes. I got there early (as usual), but that was ok, because (as usual) I'd brought a book to read to pass the time.

Except that I couldn't read it.

First off, the parking was angled so that cars pulling in were facing the left rear quarterpanel of my car, so I had to keep turning around to see if any vehicles were approaching mine. Those that did, I couldn't just read my book and ignore them, I had to watch where they parked and then watch the people get out, walk into the rest rooms, walk their dogs or whatever, because if I'd had my nose buried in my book they could have walked up to my car without my being aware of them.

It was not so very long ago that I would have sat there and read continuously; completely oblivious of my surroundings; until my niece probably startled me by tapping on my car window. I know that by being conciously aware of everything, I'm not only keeping *myself* safer, but also possibly another innocent person, as AGirl did for the woman at the ATM. But man does it make waiting around nerve-wracking and boring! :)

 
At March 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM , Blogger agirlandhergun said...

That's a great story! I can relate. I do the same kind of thing now.

 

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