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Self Defense

One of the main concerns that I’ve been hearing and having about this trip is about my personal safety. For some reason, I haven’t been too concerned with it as I tend to think that people, on the whole, are pretty nice. We were shown, over and over again, the generosity of complete strangers during a four month cross-country trip that a friend and I took in 1996. Along the way there were a few comments about a tee-shirt I was wearing in Montana (which I subsequently sent home) and other than that there was only one time that we were bothered. It was some local youth in Lawrence, Kansas who couldn’t have been much younger than us. And I still really like Kansas, it’s my favorite not-really-flat state.

There were so many other times on this trip that people were welcoming and protective of us. In Missouri, a man who was taking his 10 year old son on a canoe trip watched over me in a campsite because he had heard that the locals came to party there. They did come and they did party, but no one bothered us.

In Whitefish, Montana people gave us dried fish which sounds like an insult, but it’s really a great compliment and a source of pride in a place where seemingly everyone fishes and smokes their catch. We’d ask to camp in a yard and were welcomed into the house, given a full meal, a shower, and a bed by complete strangers – families usually.

The key is to keep your mouth shut and for once in your life not discuss your opinions about those things that your mother told you to never to discuss with strangers: politics, religion, sex, drugs and money. It’s not as hard as it seems – I never know when to shut up and somehow I managed not to insult anyone all the way across America. Of course, since I’ll be in South America this time and I speak next to no Spanish, conversation may not be an issue. I’ll just be exhausted and to learn a fair amount about Shakespeare in my downtime. Just kidding – I hope talk to whomever will attempt to converse with me.

After the scale and potential solitude of the trip sunk in, I decided that one way to make myself feel stronger and to reassure (somewhat at least) those who were concerned was to take a self-defense class. Using that wonderful superlative, “best”, I ran a Google search and came up with a “Best Self Defense Class” article in New York magazine which lead me to Impact at Prepare, Inc.

Next: The First Two Classes

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