When I was living in Colorado, I was working as a fire fighter. On my off days, I would go jogging as part of my fitness routine. I was built kinda like an armadillo at the time, so to say that running was my least favorite activity was an epic understatement. The only thing that allowed me to gut through it was to crank some kick-butt music on my Walkman, which took away my ability to hear what was happening around me. From a safety point of view, it was a one-two punch of bad idea.
My rationale: I couldn’t run without the music and I couldn’t perform my job without jogging regularly outside, using my body weight. So off I went. Knowing that I was leaving myself vulnerable, I made an effort to be vigilant with my eyes.
It was a beautiful spring day like only Colorado can deliver. I wore shorts and an arm baring tee. Add another hashmark to the creepy dude catnip category. As I was running, a car came up on my left. It slowed down, which brought it to my attention. As it crawled along, the driver was checking me out. He was moving so slow, I was able to observe that it was a male driver, light brown skin, black hair, 30’s, blue four-door Chevy and got a partial plate number. It bothered me, made me nervous. He turned off the road and I couldn’t see him anymore. Then I got the CLEAREST intuitive message I’ve ever gotten to memory: When you jog past the next intersection, he will be there. Waiting for you.
I slowed my pace a little, giving any driver at the next intersection plenty of time to clear it. I hoped that if he was waiting, taking my time would allow another car to come up behind him, forcing him to drive through. No such luck.
As I entered the intersection, there he was. Waiting. His creepy eyes staring at me through the windshield. Then, my body took over. I slowed down to a walk, turned and looked him dead in the eye and pointed at him: I see you you. I held his gaze as I went by, pointing a shaming finger at him. When I cleared the intersection, he burned rubber and sped off.
Afterward, I remember thinking, “What the hell was that all about?” I pointed at him like I was a second grade school teacher. In my rational brain, I thought how awkward it was to call someone out in public, how strange it must have looked. But I didn’t choose to slow down and point. It was a survival impulse that I surrendered to. I felt threatened by him and my inner mama bear took over.
In hindsight, many women don’t transition from feeling a survival impulse to acting on it because they don’t want to seem like a bitch or it feels like socially awkward and deeply uncomfortable. When intuition tells us that something dangerous is happening or about to happen, the hardest thing to do is listen and act without hesitation.
The action we take may seem strange to the casual observer, but that’s none of our business. The moment that you act on your own behalf is the moment you step into awesome. Empowered, smart and awesome.