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Interesting Interaction

Discussion in 'Education & Training' started by The Quiet Man, Jul 1, 2010.

  1. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    I took my dog down to a trailhead on the Banks-Vernonia Linear Trail, 30 or so miles west of Portland this morning. We parked in the small lot and headed up the trail. Three other cars were there, along with a half dozen people milling about. We saw no one on the trail as we traveled a mile up and a mile back. When we got back to the parking lot only my vehicle was there. Two homeless looking young men (30'ish) were sitting at a picnic table about 100 feet across the lot. No one else was about.

    Now before anyone gets excited about my "profiling", please understand that many men work at very dirty jobs out here in western Washington County and we normally don't think twice at the sight of dirty, worn out looking working men. We don't worry about shaving every day either..for the most part. Now these two characters had long bushy beards and were very grungy looking. They were wearing old backbacks and looked like they hadn't seen a shower in weeks. They had no vehicle and were "out of place" looking like they did in the park at 9:30 in the morning.

    Rather than turn my back on them, I calmly turned sideways and opened the back of the Jeep and got the dog inside. I saw movement in my peripheral vision as I shut the back of the Jeep. I turned to face them as they were walking towards me across the lot, still about 75 feet away. I shifted my feet into a shooting position and locked eyes with them. Without saying a word, I motioned them away by making a circling motion with my hand followed by pointing, in a stabbing motion, at them with my index finger. They stopped, stared for a few seconds, and turned back to the picnic table. I got in the Jeep and drove away. No words or additional gestures had been exchanged. I also had not indicated in any fashion that I was armed.

    It was interesting that they seemed to sense that continuing down the path they were on was not in their best interest. Yes, I could have misread them and their intentions. However, my very strong instincts were to not let them anywhere near me, and that is how it I required it to play out. Fortunately, it never escalated into a bad situation...but I was comforted in having the means to protect myself.
     
  2. DERGLOCKINMEISTER

    DERGLOCKINMEISTER SPRINGFIELD OREGON Member

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    I've had similar encounters with "street people " and , while I never knew their exact intentions , a shake of my head , or a simple no spoken before they got a chance to hit me up with whatever they had in mind , sent them on their way with no further interaction . They are looking for easy marks regardless of their intentions , and once they have been warned off , they will usually keep looking for easier pickings . I have little patience with the "anything helps" crowd and figure that if they truly want to live off the land - then quit looking for a handout from people who work hard for a living . Does that make me insensitive ? Tough .
     
  3. Ben Beckerich

    Ben Beckerich NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    i don't have a lot of sympathy for these "travelers," as they like to call themselves. nice, neat word for "drifter," and nothing less. having worked with bums, runaways, and drifters in a previous life, i have a little experience with 'em. they're usually wanted, or at least have extensive criminal records, utterly untrustworthy, and easy to spot- unshaven, packpacks, dirty.

    the simple fact that they stopped approaching and retreated without saying a word is further evidence they were drifters- any non-reject would have been offended by your gesturing. they probably just wanted some money or a ride, but might not have accepted a "no" for an answer.

    i say good call. screw those guys.
     
  4. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    Good move on your part....sometimes profiling someone is nothing more than making a threat assessment. You identified possible foes, were alert to their presence and displayed presence to their possible agression.

    You realize they probably saw your Jeep and decided to wait for the owner to show up just to mug them right? Probably thought some jogger chick would show up...or saw you get out from a ways away and waited for their "score" on the bench to return.

    They had you bottle-necked in. Probably even picked a spot to where your back would be turned when you got to your Jeep.


    I'm paranoid like that though, heck for all we know they might have just wanted to ask you for some change or some directions. Nevertheless, there are bad people out there and I think you acted very appropriatly.
     
  5. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Hillsboro, OR Well-Known Member

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    Good move backing them off as quickly as you did. If they would have gotten within 10 feet of you things could have gone south fast if they had ill intent.
     
  6. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    +1 what Cougfan stated
     
  7. C&H

    C&H SW Portland Member

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    I think the OP did the right thing.

    There's a lot to be said for the differences in profiling based on looks, and profiling based on looks *and* your spidey senses. Being approached while alone and with your back semi-turned is definitely something that deserves attention and vigilance. I don't carry - but I would have also gestured them away and got out of there quickly if I felt that things could have gone in a bad direction.

    However....
    Knowing that the OP is near a trail head and near lots of area that's great for backpacking, these two guys could have simply been wanting to know the time if they were waiting for their ride home to a razor and a shower. After receiving a unfriendly gesture from a confident man, out in the sticks - maybe they thought something like "We're all alone and who knows, maybe this guy is armed and has a bad attitude, maybe we shouldn't press it".

    I know that after I spend a week backpacking in the woods, I sure look like a dirty good-for-nothing, and until I bought new gear two years ago, I had old surplus and garage sale gear that functioned decently but definitely had a bit of a vagabond look to it. I've had a number of suspicious glances and downright ill-will when walking into a convenience store for fishing bait and a hard earned bad burrito after several days out and about. New gear seems to have changed that response.

    I know that if I'm out in the sticks and someone seems unfriendly, it's best to go the other way.
     
  8. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    My thought process is towards the bad intentions side though. He didn't run into these guys on the trail....he ran into them chilling on the benches where he parked his car. Where they knew they would run into someone.

    They are in pairs and bottle-necking people to where they will have the highest degree of probability to run into someone. Then they only get up when his back is turned and he's focussed on the car...yeah I'm on the OP's side on this one. I give a lot of people the benifit of the doubt but too many things point towards "bad guys" on this one.
     
  9. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    I wish I could say, "I saw, I thought, and I decisively acted", but I don't remember analyzing the situation after I saw them and got that "bad" feeling in my gut. In fact, it seemed that I was on dead-calm autopilot. I wasn't afraid or excited, and I don't remember thinking about it. I just felt compelled to keep my eye on them as I got the dog in the Jeep and me to the driver's door. I don't know why I made the gesture to them... it just happened. I know I was on the verge of yelling at them to stay where they were, and also preparing to draw at the same time. From the time I noticed them walking toward me until I was driving away was probably 30 seconds. It all seemed to be happening at once, and in fact all happened very quickly. I do remember thinking I can't let them get close to me, and thinking at the same time that this isn't happening. It was rather surreal.

    After thinking about it, I realize that I never considered trying to get into the Jeep to get away from them as it was happening. I don't think I could have gotten into the Jeep in the time it would have taken them to run to me. I also would have had to back right into them to get out of the parking lot. Perhaps all this did go through my head, but I don't recall processing the information. I work hard to always be aware of what is going on around me and playing senarios in my head. This little "stress test" showed me that you must trust your instincts without knowing for sure if something bad is in fact happening. Also that your body will act in concert with whatever is going through your head... in a very short period of time and without conscious thought.
     
  10. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    Give yourself some credit here, chief. You observed them on the benches before you put your key in the car, then you refused to have your back completely to them because you recoignized them as a possible threat. Call it your "gut feeling" or whatever, but you have the correct mindset when you are carrying a firearm.

    You have to be in at least condition ORANGE level of alertness, which you were, and you have to assess your surroundings and your targets constantly. You also have to keep possible threats away from you so that you can have enough time and distance to draw, fire, and reassess your threats.

    All of these steps must be taken when carrying. I try to beat this into my wife all the time, especially when she closes at her job at night.

    Be aware, keep your back to a wall (but have an exit), and constanly conduct threat assessments.

    You get a gold star next to your name on the board as far as I'm concerned...

    :thumbup:
     
  11. swoop

    swoop Milwaukie, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A+ on your actions and with out a word spoken you truly lived up to your screen name...The Quiet Man... :thumbup:
     
  12. A2theK

    A2theK Olympia Member

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    Wonderful action!:thumbup:

    I had a similar occurrence happen in Westport, Or.

    You are safe now. Maybe in the hospital or worse had you not shown the calmness and decisiveness you did.
     
  13. marty8587

    marty8587 NE Portland Active Member

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    :thumbup:I'VE BEEN IN SIMALAR BUT NOT QUITE AS SERIUOS SITUATIONS. I think that carrying makes you more concious of your surroundings and can give you the inner confidense to deal with things in the proper way. Good Job!!:thumbup:
     
  14. Lloyd Braun

    Lloyd Braun Vancouver Active Member

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    is that trail normally a target rich environment?
     
  15. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    If you are asking about bad guys hanging around, no. It is quite the opposite. We are on the trail 4 or 5 times a week year round and have never heard of a problem. A car was broken into one Saturday morning at the trailhead last fall but that was all we have ever been aware of. We live within a mile of the trail and monitor the Sheriff, and County and State Park frequencies on scanners. We know the Park Rangers and most of the volunteer workers who maintain the trail. We have some resident rowdy boys living out this way but they don't bother the locals or mess with anyone on the trail. The Deputies chase them around some on Saturday nights but nothing much ever comes of it other than some good sport. In most cases, they are the guys you want around in case there is real trouble because they would be right there to help you out.

    If you are talking about easy pickings for bad guys, the answer is only on weekends when the city folks flood out here. Most demonstrate very little situational awareness or concerns over safety. They seem to think they are safe in large numbers and with their trusty cellphones. However, we have never noticed city type bad guys out here. They don't blend in and are generally out of their element in the woods. I think they also realize that the locals are often more dangerous than their city neighbors. Either that, or it's just to far to go for so little opportunity :)
     
  16. Dyjital

    Dyjital Albany, Ore Flavorite Member Bronze Supporter

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    Well played.
     
  17. Riot

    Riot Benton County, Washington Well-Known Member

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    Bad guys are opportunists...all you can do to avoid being a victim is limit the opportunity you give them so that they will move to a "softer" target.

    As they say, you don't have to run faster than the bear, you just have to run faster than the other campers.
     
  18. jordanvraptor

    jordanvraptor Oregon City, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Being unfriendly preemptively is better than getting hurt for being nice... Your instincts are a designed for self preservation. Trust them. :)
     
  19. elsullo

    elsullo Portland Oregon New Member

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    Thanks for posting your story, as it is a useful reminder for all of us. There really ARE bad people out there, and those guys really DID act suspiciously. Criminals often prey upon the "better nature" of their victims, who feel guilty about profiling strangers. It was your mindset that got you through this, and those bums could recognize a fellow "dangerous person" from a distance, proving your suspicions right. Being armed and trained and ready produces a curious sense of calm.......................elsullo :thumbup:
     
  20. The Quiet Man

    The Quiet Man rural Washington County, Oregon Active Member

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    I appreciate everyone's comments. Fortunately, it turned out well with no one getting hurt... or worse. As I told my wife, "That is why we carry firearms".