0244 – Last Minute Christmas Shopping Cart Tactics

There I was. Standing in the unmentionables section taking care of some last minute Christmas shopping. Just like any normal guy, as I stood there browsing, I got a little excited. You see, my mind wandered to the same place it does every four minutes or so all day long. What if? What if I was standing here and somebody was trying to hurt me? How would I handle it? What if there were two of them? What if I had my kids with me? What if, what if, what if…?

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Have a Shopping Cart

Last night I worked pretty hard to knock out the last of my Christmas shopping and I had a pretty successful night despite my mind wandering from the task from time to time.  At one point in time I caught myself making the typical dumb shopper mistake of being caught with too much stuff and no cart.  I work pretty hard to keep my right hand fairly free to draw my pistol or take any other action that may need to be taken.  But here I was with too much stuff in my hands to be able to handle the situation.  With both hands full, we can really run into some problems if we need to use our hands.  Now, don’t get me wrong, nothing in my hands was so important that I couldn’t simply drop it to the ground.  Nothing fragile, nothing of value, especially when compared to the value of my safety.  We have to understand how our body works so that we can understand why this can be a problem.

Physiological Reactions to Stress

Our body has a long list of survival reactions to stressful situations that has been strengthened through thousands of years of successful breeding.  We need to understand these physiological responses so that we can exploit them to our advantage and avoid putting ourselves in situations where our responses could be a disadvantage.

So lets take a look at my error at the store.  Minding my own business.  Casually shopping.  Something tucked under each arm, something in each hand as well.  Suddenly there is a problem, a real threat.  Two thugs with knives, and they want the last two Angry Birds Plush toys left in the county.  Not good.  I do carry a throw away wallet, but I haven’t yet integrated a throw away Angry Birds Plush Toy, and I’m not going to be giving up the real thing.  Who would.  This is a stressful situation.

Lets take a quick and abbreviated look at our bodies response:

  • Eyes send information to the brain that there is danger
  • Brain perceives danger
  • Brain signals body to release chemicals into blood stream to enhance our chances for survival
  • Chemicals cause a series of changes in how our body works which can vary from person to person and situation to situation.
    • Heart rate increases
    • Vision changes to increase the visual acuity in the center of our field of vision
    • Brains processing of information changes to enhance performance
    • Blood flow changes in the body to supply blood to large muscle groups for fight or flight reaction
    • Changes in auditory function
    • Deterioration of fine and complex motor skills
    • The grasp reflex
  • Keep in mind
    • A response to stress is based on many factors
    • It varies from person to person
    • It varies from situation to situation
Back to my mistake.  Here I am with something in both hands when it hits the fan.  Because of how our bodies are wired even if I want to open my hand, drop my Angry Bird, and draw my pistol, I might find that to be a challenging prospect based on the grasp reflex that is often experienced in stressful situations.  We can see this reaction in dash cam video where law enforcement engage in serious life or death conflicts while holding their citation book in their support hand.  It is as if some one has bound the book to the hand.  Imagine me, unable to break my grasp on a fluffy stuffed animal, unable to draw my pistol, beating off two dirtbags with a fluffy stuffed animal in each hand.  A flailing, furry, mess for sure.  Yeah, this is the kind of stuff that goes through my head.
When I realized how much of a dope I was being, I set everything down, walked to the front of the store and got myself a cart.
My crazy little mind didn’t stop there.
Here I am, pushing a cart with both hands wrapped around the grip.  Right back in the same situation.  In a stressful situation instinct is going to be to place a white knuckle grip on the cart.

 

Use the Cart

So I started thinking.  How is gripping this cart different than holding on to whatever I am buying?

  • Barrier
  • Distance = Time = Opportunity
  • Distraction
  • Ram

Complications

We have to remember that simple logistical changes can result in a need for drastic changes in tactics.  As I mentioned above my shopping cart does a great job of creating distance by using it as a barrier, or can do damage to scum when used as a weapon.  When I am with my family however, my kids must be a consideration.  If my children are in the cart, I certainly don’t want to use the cart as a barrier.  This would put my children in harms way and that is counter productive to my goals.  My point here is simple.  There are many solutions to a problem that would be ineffective or counterproductive with a simple change in circumstances.

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