About 20-something years ago, I was working as an armored truck guard. I remember showing up on my first day of work at the armored truck company, complete with body armor, multiple speed loaders, back-up ankle-gun, and black ripstop BDU pants and steel toe combat boots. In addition to being the youngest employee at my branch, I was also apparently the strangest. The looks I got on the first day from the veterans, were not welcoming. I had no pressed slacks, nor Chukka boots or Oxfords, nor six round cartridge slide. No, I was there dressed for, what I thought, work. Armored truck work differs from conventional security work in many ways, chief among them the requirement to actually DO WORK. Meaning, money (cash and coin) is heavy, and thus moving it from POINT A to POINT B requires brute strength, and sweat. Thus, dressing like an armed mailman seemed silly to me. Aside from the completely benign appearance, that, “pressed,” look didn’t seem extraordinarily ergonomic, nor easily maneuverable amongst the various lifting and loading tasks required of an armored truck crewman. Thus, I was termed, “unique.”
My, “uniqueness,” ended one afternoon following the disarmament and subsequent robbery of a fellow employee. Although my coworker was physically large, played college football, and generally kept his head on a swivel (if for nothing else than gawking at women) he got ambushed that day, and relieved of his weapon. The robber didn’t know how to actuate the safety devices/retention devices on the guard’s Uncle Mike’s PRO3 duty holster, and thus he made the guard give him his sidearm, with the robber’s own pistol thrust smartly into the guard’s head. When the distress/robbery in progress call came out on the radio, we all went into CONDITION ORANGE, and listened intently to the radio traffic exchanges. The guard was lucky to get out of that nightmare alive…
When I returned to the truck base the afternoon of the robbery, everyone asked me where I purchased my security holster, my body armor and external carrier, the steel plates it carried, the spare magazine carriers, the ankle gun and rig, the medical kit (albeit crude) and the various other support/street survival equipment I carried everyday. I was no longer the pariah…I was the weirdo who was ready.
Fast forward a number of years to when I was in dental school. A number of students in my school had been carjacked and relieved of their vehicles. A frightening number, in fact. Of my class of 65 students, FIVE were forcibly removed from their vehicles and left shaking and afraid on the side of the road. In my 4th year, a carjacker unsuccessfully attempted to carjack ME, and was promptly sent running in the opposite direction. I had spent a fair amount of training and effort on vehicular ambush techniques, over a couple decades, beginning with my experience as a law enforcement student at the community college, through my armored truck experience, and honed it into a reliable skillset that allowed me to recognize a probable threat early on, prepare mentally and physically for the interaction, and then counter the robbery with a preemptive surprise response. Of course, spending free time at the range running skill drills from a chair or a vehicle, and pre-planning tactics in my head made me strange to the casual observer…who does these kinds of things?
Weirdos do these kinds of things. At the base of it all, lies the MENTAL AWARENESS AND MENTAL PREPAREDNESS that Mas Ayoob talked about WAY back in the late 70’s and early 80’s, that survival minded individuals employ to give them the competitive edge against any existential threat that they come up against. You see, to the layperson, the WEIRDO looks like a fighting ant, with their bristled visage, guns, knives, medical kits, 4×4 truck and bail-out bag. To the uninitiated, the WEIRDO looks like a gadgeted freak, and thus the tactical accessories of the WEIRDO seem like talismans that have the ability to ward off evil-doers, and help the wearer steer clear of environmental pitfalls. This couldn’t be farther from the truth though. The WEIRDO has simply undertaken the task of preparing their hands for the unexpected; the mind is already so equipped. So when disaster strikes, and action is needed, they are ready. For the weirdo, the acceptance of the, “NOT IF…WHEN?” eventuality is already completed. One of my email taglines used to read, “IF YOU PREPARE FOR THE EMERGENCY, THE EMERGENCY CEASES TO EXIST!” The weirdo doesn’t like emergencies, but they know that they occur and thus they find the study and preparation for countering emergencies, useful. And lately, in our current times, emergencies seem to occur more frequently than in the past. So, be a WEIRDO. Encourage others to become WEIRDOS. And maybe, someday, we can live in a world where the WEIRDOS aren’t in the tiny minority, and even seem (dare I say) NORMAL.