It’s a Tuesday, and the last sliver of the sun just dropped behind the distant hills and it’s now dusk. You had a horrendous day at work, attending several meetings, responding to several dozen e-mails, and talking to hordes of people telephonically. You’re finally free to go home, but then you remember you’ve got nothing for dinner. So, you point your car in the direction of your favorite supermarket.
Pulling into the parking lot, you’re dismayed to find that lot of people didn’t have anything to fix for dinner and, just like you, are searching for a parking space near the door of the market. Finally, you give up and grab the first spot you see.
As you exit your vehicle, you lock your car doors and whip out your cell phone to call your spouse. You want to advise him he needs to pick up your child from day care because you’re at the market.
Suddenly, a man steps in front of you. He’s pointing an ominous gun at your chest and telling you to give him your phone, and wallet. You’re stunned and don’t move. The man gets mad jerks the gun closer to your face. “I said, give me your stuff!” You still don’t move and he snatches your phone from your hand, and yanks your purse from your shoulder. Then he turns and runs through the parking lot and leaps into a waiting car. The car burns rubber as it flees the scene.
You look around the parking lot to see if anyone else seemed to notice what just happened to you. Blissfully unaware of the recent drama in their vicinity, your fellow citizens go on about their business. Bewildered, you make your way into the market and grab the first employee you see and ask them to call the police – you’ve been robbed.
Okay, so how many of you have rehearsed what you would do if confronted by an armed gunman in a parking lot? What about in your home? Have you considered what action you would take if you were at a concert and your section of the arena collapsed? What if you were at the mall and 7.0 earthquake occurred? Do you get the idea I’m leading to the title of this article…Dress Rehearsal?
One of the things police officers are taught in the Police Academy is to be aware of our surroundings and think in terms of worst case scenario and what if…
I highly recommend that you start thinking in those terms as well. (By the way, I do recommend giving up your property. Property can be replaced – you can’t.) As you go about your daily activities, be in the moment – pay attention to what’s going on around you. In these days of technology and multi-tasking, it’s so easy to be distracted from what you’re doing. And that distraction could cost you.
Another thing about planning ahead…it can take away some of the anxiety you might feel when unexpectedly confronted with adverse conditions. In the scenario I’ve presented of a parking lot robbery, if long ago, you’ve already decided to give up your property, that’s one aspect where you know what will be happening. Instead of focusing on, Gosh, I’m scared, (that’s a given, so plan for it), Should I give up my wallet? What about my jewelry? Instead, you can be looking at the suspect trying to sear his image into your brain, looking for something distinctive about him (or her) – tattoos, piercings, missing, broken, or gold teeth. Maybe he has a mole on his nose or under an eye.
In your dress rehearsal, you’ve already done a run through where the robber ran to a waiting car – in fact, you’ve considered the best escape routes a suspect might take so you aren’t surprised when your robber runs in exactly that direction to a waiting car. Because you’re not surprised, you have an extra couple seconds to look at that escape vehicle and see what color it is, whether it has tinted windows, custom wheels, or maybe traffic collision damage – anything that will make the car stand out for officers searching for the suspects.
There is one thing I know about dress rehearsals…they work. You can bet the crooks out there are practicing their lines, their moves, and their plans. In fact, there are some crooks who have long-running performances – with occasional breaks for jail time. You should be rehearsing your thoughts and actions as well; because in this type of performance you don’t want to be doing improvisation.