My Dear Friends:
It never cease to amaze me the amount of energy that is put into making this joyful and meaningful holiday season as frenetic as it possibly can be in the endless effort to make it “perfect”. It’s amazing how people will beat each other out to purchase the “perfect” gift, secure the “closest” parking spot or prepare the “perfect” meal. Ever notice how the tensions rise around this time of the year? I cannot tell you how many times in the last few weeks, I have seen people cut each other off in parking lots, in retail shops and in grocery stores. Why? So they wouldn’t miss out on getting “the best” of whatever it is? And Heaven forbid the thought that an establishment just might be out of stock on a particular item or size. Clearly, this is the only day in life where one can enjoy whatever it is that they are fighting for. When children become afraid on line in a store because someone ahead of them is throwing a fit for an out of sock item, I would say that emotions are running a little on the high strung side. So, at the risk of sounding like a humbug, I am offering the following tips:
- Expect to run into people who are rude, hasty, obnoxious and self-centered AND have a plan before hand to deal with them. Whether it is a parking spot or other disputed item (even when it is clear that you are in line for it), decide before hand what battles you will pick, how you will respond (if at all) and where you will draw the line in an escalation. Remember, any one who is so attached to something transient that they are willing to behave like a locomotive on a crash course for it, probably could use a hip check on their own life in the first place. Don’t be their brick wall. Let something else stop them in their tracks. You have a life.
- Watch yourself in parking lots. They are very dangerous assault areas. Don’t park in isolated areas, and shop at times that make sense so you are not the only one in the parking lot. When leaving your vehicle, LOCK IT, and walk briskly to where you need to be. When approaching your car, look underneath it from a distance. Look into the back seat before you get in. Have your keys ready, throw your purchases inside, get in and LEAVE. Don’t make a phone call, send a text, check your Facebook, rummage through your bag, mark off a checklist., etc. Do these things before you leave the store.
- Watch yourself at ATM’s. Supermarket ATM’s are better than the bank’s isolated ones if you need cash after business hours. Supermarkets are open later, and you will be in plain sight of others. Put your cash away before walking to your car.
- Keep an eye on your kids, especially in crowded areas. If your kids are cranky or screaming while shopping, it may be best to arrange to go without them. Screaming children infuriate most people on a good day.
- Scan your exit points in stores. Know a way out whenever in any public building.
- Don’t let yourself be distracted. Be in tune to the environment, especially in crowded areas.
- If you see something weird, say something to someone in authority.
Remember, the holidays are not warm and fuzzy for everyone. There are those who have suffered great loss, are alone, destitute or depressed who see festivities as a stark contrast to their perception of their own lives. People do strange things around the holidays, sometimes dangerous things. Give people a break, you never know what they are dealing with and what may set them off. Stay low key while getting your tasks accomplished. Just get in, get what you need and get out. Spend your time where it really counts, with the people you love.
Above all, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t. I cannot stress the importance of considering a self-defense class. If you consider yourself in a confrontation, think of how much better you would feel if you had more confidence and skills to deal with the situation, not only for yourself, but for any children or loved ones you may be out and about with.
All things being equal, most enjoy the holidays without a hitch, but emotion does run high this time of year. Don’t be caught up in the frenzy, pay attention, and stay safe.