Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Devil and the Details

Details are important in my line of work. Attention to detail can mean the difference between publishable results and a colossal waste of time and resources. And I’m fairly good at my job. Even in my personal life, I pay decent attention to details (or at least, I think I do). But there is one facet of my life in which I have no grasp of details at all, and it’s the part where you’d think details are most important – situational awareness.

I would make a terrible eyewitness.

That’s not to say that I walk around in Condition White. It’s just that when it comes to my personal safety, I see the forest rather than the trees. I’m pretty sure a neurologist or a psychologist would say that my brain is actually taking in and processing all of the details… they just don’t pass through my conscious mind. When I perceive a threat, sometimes I can’t even say exactly what it is that tips me off. And truthfully, if a particular situation causes my hackles to rise, it doesn’t much matter to me why. And I’m certainly not going to hang around long enough to figure it out.

Even if I can say, “There was a guy who really made me feel uncomfortable,” chances are I’m not going to be able to describe him. It won’t be the color of his shirt or the length of his hair or the shape of his tattoos that ratchets me up to Condition Orange, so those details are totally inconsequential to my survival and they don’t factor into my sizeup of the situation.

Unfortunately, “he creeped me out” isn’t the kind of description that will help the LEOs catch a predator.

On the other hand, I’ve missed out on a lot of adventures (and possibly some misadventures), because there are some places that I just won’t go, some risks that I just won’t take. And when the hair stands up on the back of my head, I don’t question it or hesitate… I remove myself from the situation. Period. Hubby is understanding of that, and when I say “I don’t want to be here”, he doesn’t stop to ask why. There is time enough for that later... much later, like after we're home. And if I can’t say exactly what set off my alarm bells, he accepts that, too. On at least one occasion, my gut feeling has gotten us out of a potentially dangerous situation, but even if I’m just totally paranoid, even if he doesn’t see any threat at all, he respects and trusts my instincts.

In the final analysis, if I reach the end of my life without becoming a victim or having to fight for my life or the life of my loved ones, then the details won’t matter… I won’t ever have to give them as part of a statement.

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