Contributor Norm Schriever: Author of Pushups in the Prayer Room
After reading Norm’s book, I realized he had to have street smarts to travel the world the way he did and get something out of it. I asked Norm to keep it simple and give us readers 3 safety tips that we could use when traveling.
Top 3 safety tips
1. Don’t be an a-hole, and definitely don’t be a drunk a-hole. I’m not kidding with that – I’ve found that if you show genuine respect for the local people and their culture that they’ll appreciate it and treat you with mutual respect. We’d learn “hello, thank you, please, what is your name, and I need a beer” in every language, and saying those simple words showed people that we were making the effort. Asking someone about their family, what city they were from, what their job was, or what their favorite football team was endeared us to a whole lot of people. There were definitely times that people were ready to rob us or jump us but we turned out to be best friends because we played it right. And when you are drunk you’re like a big sloppy target and easy prey, so you learn to hide it for the right place and right time, and always keep a little part of you sober and watching.
2. Feel it. After a while of being in wild, chaotic, crowded, dangerous Third World cities I didn’t just rely on my senses, but I could actually feel the energy in any situation. I felt trouble coming before it even saw me, and that “Spidey Sense” kept me safer than anything. So it was about staying conscious. Shane and I also were very simpatico after a while, where we watched each other’s backs and could communicate with a look. If shit went down we kept our cool, and if it really got heavy we could always run, but it rarely came to that. Usually we just showed confidence and even cracked jokes at guys who might want to rob us or give us trouble, and that was enough. Also having a great taxi driver is invaluable – they literally can save your life or get you anything you want or bring you anyplace you want to go but keep you safe. No matter what, making a couple of cool local friends will keep you safer than anything.
3. Watch them watching you. At night, or when you’re walking in questionable neighborhoods, take off your watch and put it in your pocket. Don’t ever wear jewelry. Put your wallet in your front pocket and if someone comes up to you, a drunk falls all over you, you walk through a tight group of people, etc. put your hand in that pocket. Never take out a wad of cash, and split up your money in different places on your person. I used to hide some money under the sole of my shoe, so if something did go down or I got robbed I could still get a cab or get out of there. Cross the street if someone shady is up ahead. Sneak a beer bottle out of the bar in your pocket so you can walk home with it, and if you hear someone approaching or someone gives you trouble you can pull it out and crack it on the pavement and use it like a knife.
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