One of the best pieces of free advice The Spear ever received was something along the lines of “If you don’t like the look of a person / a group of people, cross to the other side of the street.” Now, perhaps this advice is largely irrelevant for those with a more wholesome or small-town lifestyle, but for those in a big city who go out late at night, this is a truly invaluable piece of advice, right up there with “if you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it” (source unknown).
Big cities expose their populace to a higher sample of the overall breadth of the human condition on a daily basis. And while this may sound fairly innocuous, another way of putting it is you are more likely to come into the vicinity of crazies and unpredictable personalities. Thus, it becomes necessary to judge people in a matter of seconds if one is to try and avoid proverbial two-legged wrecking balls.
Akin to a police officer using a broken taillight as an indicator of more sinister criminality, The Spear will tend to actively avoid people who he automatically detects display some combination of the following (one sign by itself often isn’t enough):
1. They are wearing physically imposing or gang-affiliated clothing
2. They are covered in intimidating tattoos, especially on their faces, neck or hands
3. The clothing is in tatters or is very dirty
4. Their clothing is being worn inappropriately (laces undone, pants too low, sidewards cap etc)
5. They possess a physically intimidating posture/gait
6. They are twitching / moving jerkily
7. They have a strong body odour or smell overly of tobacco
8. Their facial expression is worrisome
9. They have unkempt facial hair / grooming
10. They are staring at strangers for far too long
11. They are yelling, swearing loudly or raving
12. They are in a large, boisterous group
13. They look like they are on ‘roids
14. They are actively harassing passers-by
15. They have something in their hand that could be used as a weapon
This screening is done largely subconsciously, with an overall ‘red flag’ being raised by The Spear’s brain within a second or two.
While he is sure the red flags have made him avoid some otherwise nice people, when it comes to risk management, the best method is elimination. By eliminating the interaction before it has a chance to take place, The Spear can avoid taking more drastic measures later.
Alas, while a two-legged wrecking ball can be easy to spot, there are people out there who for the most part appear normal, but who will completely destroy your life if you can’t see the warning signs. Those real ‘white collar psychos’, so to speak, are very good as flying under the red flag radar, such as some serial killers and sexual molesters. The only red flag you might have with these monsters is that gut-feel, when something just doesn’t feel right, probably because you are being asked to enter a situation whereby you know you will be vulnerable, but there is pressure to oblige out of politeness or the ‘rules’ (just like that scene out of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo when Daniel Craig is lured into the torture chamber).
While judging people so quickly and potentially leaving others in a bind may feel rude, when it comes to your own health and safety, you are the one with the most to lose. There are often less risky alternatives to whatever is being proposed (such as crossing to the other side of the street rather than walking past a group of dickheads, or declining that lift from a stranger and calling someone you know), and your safety is worth a little rudeness!