I walked into a coffee house yesterday with a friend. It was in the evening and there were several people in enjoying their drinks of choice. We sat in the table next to a gentle man and a lady. They were an arms-reach from our table. We ordered. We get engrossed into our discussion. After a while, the lady walks out. For a toilet break I think. She leaves her handbag on the table. Nothing unusual. After a short while, the guy stands and walks out. He leaves the handbag on the table. That is very unusual. It is a non written rule in my head that if I am having a meal or drink, I need to watch the belongings of my companion if they take a toilet break. I shouldn’t take a break when she or he is still away. unless there is a third part. The rule applies to the party too. Or I guessed. Wrong. especially for the scene unfolding. I tell my companion. It is strange that the guy walked out and left the ladies handbag. My statement was more suggestive though, I used the word girlfriend. My companion tells me the guy unzipped the handbag and picked a phone, stood and left. It shouldn’t ring a bell still. In any case,once in a while my husband tells me to put his wallet and phone in my bag, right? Wrong. The waitress comes and puts reserved notice on the table. The ladies handbag is still there. The lady comes back. Runs into the waitress and asks, where the guy went to. She says he just walked down. But little did we know he was not coming back. She comes and sits. Goes through her bag, then she casts a look across and asks if the guy took her phone. My companion answers yes. Then she goes, “Oh My God”.
Of course we inform the management (through the waitress). The waitress says there are many such cases. She also says the guy frequents there. Maybe with fresh bait every time. This brought back memories of what I used to be told when I was growing up on precautions to take. I am going to share a few tips I gathered a long the way in my journey of life:-
I do not drink alcohol, and probably one of the reasons why was for my own safety. Drinking to some extent reduces the rational capacity of a person. The level of loss is different. Others need only one glass of one, others need a whole crate of beer. I have never wanted to test my limits. Some say that you limit your alcohol consumption. I have learnt that , sometimes in some company this rule does not work. If it is a group outing, it is always easy to volunteer to be the designated driver, or the cab advisor when everyone else has since stopped being themselves. In the least you will ensure everyone is home safe and sound.
One of the safety tips I remember my brother ever mentioning to me way before I joined college was when you are having a drink with anyone, if you need to pee, finish your drink first. If you had not, order a fresh one when you get back. It may look unusual to those who you will be with but just in case your drink was spiked, you will be okay. This does not only apply to alcohol, but also to the teas, coffees we do with friends, prospective clients or customers, and even strangers on blind dates.
It is good to let someone know where you are. It is also good to let this person know at least one person you are with. We may assume we are in control of things, but stuff happens. Picture a guy who goes out for a drink with friends. He drinks later than them. His drink is spiked. He goes Missing in Action (MIA). Or those thieves who unleashes things that you breath and pass out. When someone has been keeping track of your movements it would be easy for them to, in the least know where to start looking for you or who was last with you and what happened when you parted ways. It may be strange but I try my level minimum to always let my spouse know where I am, who I am meeting, where. Even when he is not around, I still let him know.
It is also good to have at least one contact off head. This is where the back up phone mentioned in My Accident… My Lessons makes sense. This will make sure that when tragedy happens to you, even if your phone is dead or has been stolen and you cannot access your contacts list, you can contact one person, hopefully this person is the same as the one you had told where you are.
I also remember a friend of mine telling me never go out without extra cash, enough to cater for your food and drinks just in case the person you are meeting bails out on the bill. Make sure you also have enough money to get you home. This may come in handy when group outings go in a direction you did not anticipate and you need to flee them. You may not have to tell them you are leaving. Excusing yourself for a pee will give you time to walk out on company you do not want to be in discreetly.
In addition to all these, ladies, carry your handbag to wherever you are going in case you are taking a break from the company you are with. Unless that person is your spouse or fiance or your really bestest of friends. In the least this should apply. If you go to the loo, go with it, if you want to go to the counter for an extra order, please don’t leave it, if you want to walk across the room and say hi to a long lost friend who just walked into the restaurant, that bag is not so heavy, pick it, walk with it. A lady,s bag has everything, from her friends spare keys to her identification documents. If that bag goes MIA can you survive a week without its contents? If not, please make it a part of you.
other advise gathered online include googling the person you are meeting, pepper spay, meeting is busy places, watch for disturbing behaviors and if your instincts say run, then just run.
I asked the girl if she knew the guy well. She she knew him but not so much. I hope in the least she gets her phone back. I also appreciate the restaurants that have CCTV, though I highly doubt they assist much. Maybe another caution should be to sit within camera range. Either way, hopefully this can stop someone from getting into the same pit.