Fill Yer Hands

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Be Prepared Part 6 – A Yellow Day

This weekend my wife and I had a few more discussions about family safety and preparedness. It started with another robbery in the news, where some people were mugged, and despite giving the robbers what they wanted, were shot and killed. Our take was that there was really no excuse for two people together to be surprised by a robber, if they were paying attention to their surroundings. That got us to talking about awareness.

There are a lot of ways to describe our levels of awareness, and maybe the best was put forth by Lt. Colonel Jeff Cooper in his book Principles of Personal Defense. My wife is not a reader of the good Lt. Colonel Cooper, so I talked a little about his color code. For those who might have missed this or forgotten, Cooper summarized those this way:

White – Unaware and unprepared.

Yellow – Relaxed but alert of your surroundings, and prepared to defend yourself if necessary. You see people and things coming in and out of your area, and you assess them for threat, almost subconsciously.

Orange – Something is not quite right and has your attention. It may be time to take furtive evasive action or other action.

Red – In an active fight. It’s time to either get away, or defend yourself if needed.

She seemed to really take to our discussion, so we talked about how we can work as a team when we’re out, watching out for each other. She immediately noted that we would be in Yellow all the time, but if one of us sensed something, we needed to be able to tell the other without alerting the threat. After some talk, we decided our code for that would be to pointedly use the word “orange,” as in “I feel orange right now, three o’clock.”

We’d had the Condition Red talk before, without using that phrase, and she has always known that if I ever had to draw my gun, it would not be to threaten, it would be because, as Tom Givens put it, there was somebody there who needed to be shot. That would be her cue to move with the kids as fast as she could away from me and away from the threat, since I then became the number one target for whoever we were confronting.

Later, we went out for a little shopping, and we talked about this again in the car. The telling time happened when we stopped to use an ATM in a part of town we don’t normally frequent. As we pulled up I talked about what I was going to do, and she agreed to watch out for anyone approaching the car.

My ATM routine is simple. Pull up as close to the ATM as I can so I don’t have to open the door. Keep the doors locked. Keep the car in gear. Don’t keep my arm hanging out of the car while I wait. As money, card, and receipt come out of the car, I shuffle them into my other hand and into the car. As soon as the ATM is done, I pull away, and I put the money and card away when I stop later.

We finished our shopping and got home with no incidents.

Now, I admit, we used to go our way in condition white, or as we also call it, Fat, Dumb, and Happy. So, did our awareness spoil the time together? Not at all. In fact, we probably felt better because we knew we were watching out for each other, even more than before.

It was a yellow day.

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