“Nothing to Worry About, Ma’am”

“Nothing to Worry About, Ma’am”

I regularly ride my mountain bike on a trail near my home. It’s not a dirt trail but rather one of those built by the city to increase fitness among citizens. It is a conveniently constructed 20-25 mile blacktop pathway through a few different areas; some urban, some suburban and even a stretch of rural! An individual on the trail will cross  main roads, pass a few ponds, traverse city parks, go under some bridges…and possibly even see a deer or two (as I did yesterday) while they are out there. All in all, it is a great place to spend some time. I like to jump on it  for a good 15 to 20 mile ride a few times per week in summer months – just to clear my head. For anyone that knows that area, they would certainly agree that there are moments along the ride that are desolate. With that in mind, I always take a weapon with me when I ride and pay close attention to people on the path.

Despite my effort at being “on guard”, I still get lost in the ride from time to time. Don’t we all have those moments? It’s nearly impossible for me to be entirely focused on  safety throughout – especially when I start to tire. I do find comfort in knowing that there are places  that I will run into other athletes but, far more often, I am out there alone for miles at a time. I prepare for my training accordingly.  I expect to run into a problem and I have equipped myself for a response.  Whether it is a heightened sense of awareness at certain points on the trail, a defense weapon that I have with me, a  POA that I have rehearsed, or a cell phone to call for help – I am as prepared as I am going to be for a 20 mile trek on the bike. I feel confident that regardless what comes my way I will be in the best position possible to confront it.  Many individuals, on the other hand, will  come to the trail with little  but a pair of shoes, an ipod, a shirt and pair of shorts. Many  are miles from civilization -– exhausted and  struggling. I wonder what their plan of action would be? Why aren’t they more prepared? It is simple. They don’t feel as though they NEED to be. After all, nothing bad has ever happened out there – or so they think.

Recently, I noticed an increase in police presence. Whether it be our city police, a neighboring department, or the “trail patrol” that is now on bicycles alongside, I had to question…WHY? Why the increased patrol? When two of the hired “bike patrols” passed me,  I seized the opportunity to inquire.  “Excuse me, sir,  I am curious if there has been a problem on the trail? I have noticed an increase in police presence recently.” The mans response was priceless.  “Nothing you need to worry about, ma’am.” Really? I pressed on. “Well, I understand that is what you are told to say to someone if they ask but what I am telling you is this: I know there has obviously been a problem or you wouldn’t be out here – nor would that cruiser be parked over there. So, please save me the time and energy it would take to go through the public files and just tell me what happened. I have a right to know.” He caved.  He went on to tell me that they had some attacks on the trail recently. Then he explained where they took place and the approximate time of the day.  So , there it was.

Interesting. I kept on with my ride, through the area where the muggings took place.   I noticed the runners out there, the children on bikes by themselves – completely oblivious to any need for heightened concern. If they had KNOWN that there might be a problem, they would be so much better equipped to handle it. If the parents of the children KNEW that there had been an attack on the trail, they probably wouldn’t have allowed their children out there unsupervised.  As an individual who makes a career out of helping others to avoid potentially dangerous situations, I find it incredibly frustrating when the public policy of silence seemingly supercedes an individuals right to know what immediate dangers lurk in their environment. Why would that man ever assume that I “have nothing to worry about?” Is he going to become my personal defender, riding alongside me to ensure that no harm befalls me? Was he, alone,  going to protect every child on that path? Every woman? Every man? Of course not. In a horrible moment, in a bad situation, those individuals will be on their own fighting for their safety. Though I can’t say with absolute certainty, I feel confident in my assumption that the people who were attacked would most certainly take offense to the statement that there is “nothing to worry about”.

I continue to use the trail, just as I continue to go on about my life in all other areas. I do so, however, with the knowledge that there has been an attack, that the potential exists for another attack, and that if I knowingly place myself in that environment then I need to do so with an awareness of safety and precaution.  Before I am inundated with responses that attempt to remind me that danger can happen anywhere, anytime, let me acknowledge that I am not disputing that. I am disputing the very common practice of not informing citizens who may be unknowingly placing themselves right in the midst of danger.  One of the most common challenges of getting folks to attend a safety course is the erroneous belief that nothing bad ever happens in their immediate environment…so why take the time to attend a class? If individuals were better informed, they may make their safety – and even that of ther family – more of a priority.


  1. Defend HighPoint says:

    Ok who’s country is it? Yours or the bad guy? GROW A PAIR! STAND UP FOR YOURSELF AND YOUR CITY, QUIT WHINING! Ok I understand as a middle/upper middle class American in Memphis you have the luxury to complain about things not being perfect for you, great! Some of us choose to take the city back and drive on (sorry thats the military in me) with life.
    I am a High Point Terrace resident who lives near the trail and I use it all the time. To my knowledge, the only people who have been “mugged” (what does this mean? I’m going to assume a robbery) are idiots who ride up behind those horrible apartments on Tillman and decided to get too close to the local residents. Common sense should tell them that’s a bad idea. Anyone who wants to keep track of crimes committed anywhere in Memphis just has to search the MPD’s CyberWatch database for reported offenses. If the offense is not reported then it probably means the victim is not a true “victim” or just doesnt care enough about everyone else to let the police know there is a problem in the area.
    That is an easy way for you to look at the public records of whats going on. The MPD is excellent about keeping this database updated and its very easy to use.
    If you like to worry, that makes you weak. You say you carry a weapon. Sounds like you have taken the right step, but out of order. Your MINDSET needs to be right before relying on a weapon to keep you safe. But please, the sky is not falling on the greenline….

    • That was interesting – and completely ridiculous. First off all, I don’t live in Memphis and have no idea what the Greenline is. Did you even read the blog? It was about paying attention to your surroundings and the need for improved communication between law enforcement, citizens, and community administration in an effort to INCREASE safety. I welcome responses on this blog when they are respectful, insightful, or provide helpful concepts to those reading it. Yours was none of those. Lastly, with all due respect, the next time you suggest to a woman that she should “grow a pair”, you may want to do it when you are not hiding behind a codename.

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