Recently, and while traveling out of state, I realized that I have a tendency to “keep things in check.” Normally, when I am at home or at work, I try always to keep things in check, lest I find things not controlled to my satisfaction. On a larger level, I could say that what goes on around us keeps us in check. In check or under control would be the norm. Many things provide means to keep us in check while other things control our movements – all of our movements. “The liberal party said, or rather allowed it to be understood, that religion is only a curb to keep in check the barbarous classes of the people…” – Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. Nevertheless, rather than dwell on those things that I cannot control, I would rather dwell on those things that I can control or things that I, personally, can “keep in check.”
While in the state of Maryland, I also found that I was also in a state of slight confusion. I did not have my EDC with me and I was in a city that I have never visited before. I was; therefore, not in my usual frame of mind (intuitive perception?) since I did not have a checkpoint in my usual checklist to be concerned with. It was mildly disconcerting this disruption of my stable datum or, as they say, I was having my calm harshed. I was missing an essential ingredient in my usual daily routine but, at the same time, I also was performing an additional check, simply because of my perception of a new and strange environment. It was a weird sensation, to say the least. I guess that one would say (or provide some other such inane saying) that I was adapting to my situation.
When I arrived at the hotel, the first thing that I checked was me into the hotel and then, secondly, into my room. The third thing that I checked was the emergency exit nearest to my room. I did not have to concern myself about this too much as the stairs leading to the rear exit was almost directly across from my room and I could run, screaming and blind, from the room without too much interference.
I ran a routine through my head that I would follow in case of fire or other emergency. Normally, I would have also worked out where the EDC was to be placed and run a few “what if” scenarios of a hotel room invasion. If I were on the bed, reclining comfortably while watching the idiot box, which table would I use that would afford me the fastest access to my EDC while granting me the best cover. If I was using the laptop while sitting at the window, and with my EDC close by, what was my avenue of approach to defend against a hotel room invasion? Since I was on the second floor of the hotel, I checked the window of the room to see if could open it and, indeed, I could open it. This then became another option to consider for fire or other emergency.
Also, and since my EDC was not with me, I had to consider alternate options for defensive weaponry – like the steam iron that was provided with the room. I would press myself into using the iron as a defensive weapon if I had to, although the hotel would be steamed about me using it as such, we would have to iron out our differences if the time came. I also had several room lights that were not so light and I could use them as bludgeons, although their use for that purpose might be shaded by public opinion and that is not to be taken lightly. The hotel would probably take a dim view of me using them for purposed defensive equipment and the EPA would probably fine me for not disposing of the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), also called compact fluorescent light, energy-saving light, and compact fluorescent tube mercury-laden bulb in the prescribed and proper manner.
On several occasions, my co-workers and I went out to eat. That placed me in public places without the ultimate means of self-defense. This meant that I had to increase my situational awareness to make up for a hole in my usual checklist when in public. I guess that you could compare it to being blind and having to rely on other senses such as hearing, touch, and smell. Visual indicators are essential to situational awareness and it is amazing how we rely on the visual sense to assess and evaluate. It does not mean that I neglected other tactics such as facing doors and windows when possible. It does mean; however, that I had to modify my usual behaviors when possible – adapt, if you will, to the situation.
For example, the entire front of the hotel was widows (not unlike that in the accompanying image, less the ocean-side view). The front of the hotel included, in addition to the front desk, the lobby, a small bar area, a lounge area, and the eatery. If I could not position myself facing a window while eating a meal, I was positioning myself close to a pillar that I could use for cover, concealment, and part of exit points if need be. I also considered exits in my analysis. In this case, I had the front doors to the lobby area and two side doors. The lobby doors were the main point of entry from the street, since one had to have a room-access card to enter the two side doors. Exit through the kitchen area was also a possibility. That would also get me access to other things as well – like kitchen cutlery. There were plenty of defensive and offensive weapons available throughout the front portion of the hotel although, and for the most part, other patrons would not recognize them as such. I found it curious about myself that, although there were exit points, I was viewing them as points to regroup and mount an attack or defend myself (or others) if need be.
When traveling by vehicle, and as a passenger, I found myself watching things more closely than I could as the driver. The reasons for this, I feel, were two-fold. First, I had the freedom to do watch the movement of vehicles and pedestrians more closely as a passenger than I would have if I were driving the vehicle. I could see traffic and pedestrian traffic patterns developing more clearly as a passenger. Secondly, the senses of sight and hearing are under attack when you are a driver of a vehicle; I am more concerned with hitting something or somebody or something or somebody hitting me while I am driving. At one point, when we were traveling through Baltimore while I was driving, I had to ask my boss (a former Marine) to help me watch out for everything. There was just too much for me to scan while operating the vehicle in a strange and very busy city and I had to be aware of not only vehicle traffic but also pedestrians who would dart from anywhere in front of moving vehicles. Now, I know why I like the country and not the city. When driving in the country, I expect a deer to dart in front of me, as it is part of rural living. While rare in the city to have a deer pop out in front of you, it is common to have a pedestrian pop into the crosshairs of your SUV. I had expected that people would have more common sense than deer to place themselves in front of a moving vehicle. I expect too much, apparently.
The business meetings went well and we wrapped up our business without mayhem and murder. Leaving for Atlanta, I found myself changing up and renewing the checks for the travel down to Georgia that I had made while traveling up to Maryland. After a seemingly endless ride to Atlanta, I finally made it back home, checked in with the wifey and then checked myself into bed for a much-needed rest.
Arising from a good night’s sleep it was time to check things out again. With a fresh cup of coffee in hand, I checked out my EDC from the safe. I then checked it out for functioning, chucked a fresh magazine of my favorite self-defense rounds into the magazine-well, racked the slide, pressed the safety lever to the safe position, and then checked to ensure that the firearm was safe to carry. Aside from checking on my checking account, checking the oil in “Muley” (my vehicle), and spell checking the blog, I will be running my usual checks throughout the day.
It is good to be home. Check that!
The point of all of this is that we continually perform a series of checks each day as we go about our usual routines. Sometimes, something disrupts that routine and we must adapt a new checklist, if even only temporary, to ensure that we make it though each day with as little disruption as possible. This “keeping it in check” is crucial to our survival. Even though we may not realize it, we have a lot to keep “in check.” Keeping our personal and home defensive equipment, and our abilities to use them properly, checked out on a continual basis ensures that they (and us) will be ready if we ever need them. Checking our finances for short-term availability and long-term plans is essential. Checking our vehicles, checking our food stores, and checking our health are all part, but not all, of the mental and written checklists that we maintain – sometimes on a daily basis. From checking our workload at work to removing checks in a “honey-do” list at home, keeping things in check plays an important role in our lives. Although my wifey considers most men as “empty-headed”, we do have a lot going on in there, really. No, really! We really keep more things in check than women realize.
One of my heroes (beside John Wayne and Clint Eastwood, of course) was Albert Einstein. He would, for hours, drift into what seemed to be unconsciousness. Although some claimed that he was conversing with an ancient alien species, he was actually trying to “keep things in check”, as he was not that adept at doing things around the house like mowing the grass and performing general carpentry and plumbing. Drifting into what seemed to be unconsciousness was common with German-born theoretical physicist of the time because NASCAR was yet to be developed; there were no race cars on which to apply his time-warp theories. His wife was about the get onto him about all of this drifting into what seemed to be unconsciousness when his first four papers of more than 300 scientific papers along with over 150 non-scientific works was published. Fortunately, one (Einstein’s “Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Körper” (“On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”)) was the “Special Theory of Relativity.” It was “special” indeed, as his wife never bothered him after that and paid somebody else to mow the grass and perform general carpentry and plumbing.
Therefore, “keeping things in check” has more uses than just being part of keeping our lives orderly. For us men, if we could drift into what seemed to be unconsciousness more often, perhaps we could discover our genius and…
This article was intended for entertainment purposes only and should not be misconstrued as valid and scientific study – unless, of course, you need to convince your wife that drifting into what seems to be unconsciousness is a good thing.