Riddle me this…

How is it that a man can walk into a bank wearing a disguise, push people around, yell, demand money while clenching his hand into a pretend gun and not be clobbered by an alert citizen?  Oh, how I dream to be in a bank when this sort of buffoon appears.

I’ve already got it all planned out…a chair, a stanchion, anything to immobilize the guy until on-duty officers arrive.

But I’ve seen the video and still photos from these styles of robberies, and usually, no one does anything.  No one tries to leave to get help, no one slides their phone out to dial 911, no one even takes cover to make themselves less a target.

Of course, the situation is completely different if the suspect is armed, but when he’s waving around a ‘gun’ comprised of his right index finger and thumb?  At least try to get out of his way, and better yet, out of the bank.  Then call 911.

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How is it that a man can run down Cambie Street, past City Hall, screaming and waving a frying pan around at the start of rush hour, and only two people call 911?

The same fellow sprinted into the Cambie and Broadway Skytrain Station, fell down the stairs and cut himself to bloody ribbons.  With frying pan still in hand, he rushed onto the waiting train, which prompted one more call to 911.

The trains were stopped so the fellow could not travel, and he was at the door to the car when my four-legged partner and I showed up.  I called him off the train and an off duty officer helped me take him into custody (thanks, Nancy).

What surprised me most were the people standing next to this guy, who was bloody, sweaty, armed with a stainless steel frying pan and clearly suffering from paranoia.  The man next to him stood with one hand holding the grip bar above his head while his other arm hung at his side, briefcase in hand.  The lady behind him turned away and stuck her nose back in her book, presenting the side of her head as the perfect target for a wayward frying pan, if the fellow were so inclined.

Even after the man was in handcuffs and leaning against a garbage can, a women tried to squeeze herself around the guy’s torso to throw out her coffee cup.  As you can imagine, the guy definitely did not like that.  He jumped and let out a yell, which in turn made my hound bark, which in turn made the coffe-cup woman scurry off with a squeal.

Good riddance, as far as I was concerned – maybe now she will walk with her eyes wide open.

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All I ask is for people to be aware of their surroundings.  If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.  I’m not asking for impossible acts of bravery, or for you to place yourself at unnecessary risk, or for you to attempt to help in a way you are not capable of.

What I am asking is for you to reconnect to society through personal, situational and environmental awareness.  Unplug your phone (I promise you, the crash of Blackberry’s service is not the end of the world, and there is communication beyond texting, BBM and email) and pay attention!

That means calling 911 is you see something that is not right.  It means removing yourself from a bad situation so you do not become a victim (or a hostage).

It means being aware of where you are, who is around you, and trusting your instincts to keep yourself safe.

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