You know those times when you read or hear certain things about other people and you wonder what were they thinking? Well, as an outspoken individual I generally try to keep my true opinion to myself, but this is not one of those times – this one is about me! Some joke that I am the “Queen of Safety,” but even this queen has made mistakes worthy of dethroning.
Last spring I wanted to walk to Chestnut Hill to handle some business. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and crisp. I told one of my friends about my intention. She and her husband suggested that I walk through the woods, under the McCallum Street
Bridge and over the Creek, since it would be scenic and make my walk shorter. I have lived in West My Airy for 40 plus years, but I’m not the nature type and fear spiders and bugs more than people. I have never walked on that side of the park and I was unfamiliar with that path.
Well, I strapped on my purse and off I went into the woods. As I began my descent into the shrubbery, I got a bad feeling, but I rationalized to myself that it was just me being paranoid. My instincts did not stop me from continuing down the path. (Despite what some people think, most Town Watchers are chickens just like the rest of the world. We don’t want confrontations, we carry no weapons, and some fear the dark, spiders, and strange bumps in the night. We just want to give a little back to our community by being observant.
As I walked down the path I couldn’t help but notice that I was completely alone – no people in sight. Again I thought to myself, this was a bad idea. I began to curse my friend and her husband, vowing to get them back!! Eventually, I ran into a young couple. As they approached me, my thought was “I could take them if I have to!” They asked me for directions, but of course I had no idea where anything was in this park. As they passed me by I began to laugh at myself. I felt like little Red Riding Hood in the woods. I was a little scared, and a whole lot mad at myself and my friends.
Eventually I reached the bridge which they had told me was the marker of safety because you were at the end of the woods. Well, it did not feel like the end to me, since there were still no houses and no people to hear a call for help. Then a man on a bike came toward the bridge. He seemed to look friendly, and we said our hellos. As I passed him, I put on what I call my supersonic bionic hearing ears – you know, the ones Bionic Woman had in the series. I tilted my head to the side to make sure I heard him moving away and not towards me. I continued to walk along the path, finally recognizing it as the other side of Cresheim Valley Drive. Feeling safer that I was not fully in the woods, I decided to call my friend and her husband. My cell phone was deep inside my purse. I left a message letting them know how much I hated the short cut, that I would never take their advice again, and promising to bring home two ticks to place on each of them personally. Eventually I got out of the woods safely without incident, but it is forever etched in my memory.
By now I am sure you are thinking, why is she telling this story? I am a person who tries to live my life with thoughts of safety first and always trying to think ahead. Yet, I alone put myself in an unsafe environment, under the false goal of trying to take a healthy walk to my appointment. I chose to enter the woods by myself, and I went in mid-morning, which I should have known is not the most populated time. I chose to carry my big everyday purse on my body in the woods with my cell phone at the bottom not in easy reach. Once in the woods, I ignored my instincts telling me it was a bad idea, deciding I could not turn around because I was in the middle. My thought was that either way I would have to walk through the woods, so I might as well finish this stupid quest. When I thought about what I did in summary format it read like …. “Single woman walking in the woods, at mid-day alone with her purse strapped across her body looking lost.” – Doesn’t sound too smart for the Queen of Safety! Almost reads like a Lifetime movie plot waiting to happen. I was lucky that nothing happened, and my friend was lucky I could not find any ticks!
But, I say to my readers, unfortunately we live in a world now where you have to always think about your safety. Don’t be frightened – be proactive! If you don’t have to be alone in the woods, don’t! If you want to run do so with a partner, not in the dark, by the woods with the runner’s uniform of shorts and tees and ear phones. I see these mistakes all the time. Fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, and friends: educate your walking and/or running loved ones. Strive for a healthy body, but do it with common sense.
We all do stupid things sometimes, but we often get an opportunity to do it again the right way. So if you can, try to do the smart thing before it becomes an unpleasant learning experience. Cut on the alarm before your house gets burglarized. Lock up the car before it gets vandalized or stolen. Find someone to walk or run with when you can. And always follow your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Most importantly, recognize that we all make safety mistakes. Learn, improve, and live another day.