Why You Need to Know Your Neighborhood to Stay Safe
That Time I Had to Move Out
Today I’m going to talk about the importance of knowing what’s going on in your neighborhood and how that can affect our safety. And I’ll do this by sharing the story of why I moved out of my first apartment.
When I moved to the big city to go to college I landed in a great neighborhood on a quiet cul-de-sac full of a dozen duplexes. The people that lived there were young professionals and retirees. I stayed in this one spot until I graduated and started working.
Everything was great for a while. Then the neighborhood around us started to transition to becoming less safe. Drug deals and shootings were becoming more common.
This one family moved in across from me and immediately stood out. They were young with two small children. Their kids were never clothed and they let them run around in the street and they played loud music.
Me being me couldn’t help but notice a few details about them, the adults never seemed to leave for jobs at normal times of the day. They were up all hours of the night. The people they invited over were rough. And when they had the blinds open at night, you could clearly see inside where they were using lawn furniture inside for their tables and chairs.
But they had the biggest TV I’d ever seen mounted to the wall. From my bedroom, I could see across the street and see what they were watching.
Don't Judge, Don't Be Dumb
While these people were different I didn’t want to judge them. Because if all you can afford is lawn furniture, then you’re doing the best you can, right? I respect that.
Just because people live differently from me doesn’t mean they're bad or that I should be threatened by them. But I shouldn’t turn a blind eye to them either.
One Sunday I was coming back from church and it was raining. I noticed on my neighbor’s porch that he had a nice Sunday pair of shoes sitting out. Normally he wore t-shirts, gym shorts, and basketball shoes. These shoes were unusual. But after all, it was Sunday.
During the week as I came and went I noticed the shoes would be gone and then they’d reappear. His clothing and job status hadn’t seemed to change. So what was up?
This thought nagged at me until one day I fully understood. The shoes were an indicator that drugs could (allegedly) be bought at his place. This, I felt, was a shoe on the power line situation.
The shoes were an understood signal that he, allegedly, had a product to move and that he was open for business. Now all of the other details fell into place and I knew that I needed to move on.
I vowed to myself that I would be gone before rent was due and I was. I didn’t want to be around drug dealers and any sort of trouble that might stir up.
Click the image below to download my free guide Know Your Neighborhood.
The Black Cadillac
Case in point - before moving out, I was leaving my apartment after lunch to go back to work. As I locked my door an old school black Cadillac pulled up to my neighbors front porch.
The driver got out and opened the door for a well-dressed, man to walk directly into the home. The passenger got out and stood at the front of the car and glared at me.
Since the car was blocking the only road in, I wisely went back inside. I guess the boss was there to talk to his employee. And from everyone’s body language this was not a happy meeting.
So, that’s the story of why I left my first apartment. The takeaways here are to look for things that stand out in your neighborhood.
What looks odd? Who doesn’t leave for work when everyone else does? Are their times of the day when there are more cars at home? In technical terms we’re looking for anomalies in the baselines.
Also because people don’t live just like you do does not mean they are a threat or should be treated differently. And because you see something that doesn’t fit in, doesn’t mean you have to run away and call the police immediately. Just observe and don’t look obvious doing it. Then act as you see fit.
For more ways to make informed observations about the area around your home, download my free Know Your Neighborhood Guide. This guide will help you hone your observational skills and think critically about what you see near your home.