People Are Crazy in California

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Pictured is San Diego Zoo Safari (Wild Animal Park) where a giraffe seems entertained watching animals in a caged vehicle.

People are crazy everywhere but when I first arrived in California, the man who trained me for a job that required driving all over Southern California summed it up–there are lots of animals in California and most of them aren’t in the zoo!

That’s an assuring thought to carry with you as you proceed through life, encountering a variety of “animals” in California. There are “up” sides and “down” sides to living in a cage with millions of other animals. The entertainment value can be amazing but when things go wrong, history provides memories of violence and riots. Staying in your own personal cage where you seldom venture out doesn’t guarantee safety and protection from other animals, though it does allow the fearful to stay out of the way of unpredictable and out-of-control animals operating cars, buses, freight trains and other machinery some shouldn’t be given the keys to. But living in a cage or box is so boring!

Millions come to California because they’ve heard about the crazies. They want to see those outrageous, over-the-top celebrities, experience the culture, buy cool California clothes, walk on its beaches, and examine the animals they’ve heard about NOT in zoos. It’s a tough reputation to live up to and many of us disappoint visitors seeking to be amazed and entertained. However, if you spend a normal day driving on a freeway, going in a store and getting in line, heading for a restaurant to eat, and maybe checking out a movie or listening to a musical act in a club at night, there’s a 99% chance that you’re going to remember that California is a zoo where people are crazy animals–primates, to be exact!

Defense mechanisms to help protect you:

  • When you go to a social gathering, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other throughout the evening, and leave together. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of a bad situation.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you see something suspicious, contact law enforcement immediately (local authorities can be reached by calling 911 in most areas of the U.S.).
  • Don’t leave your drink unattended while talking, dancing, using the restroom, or making a phone call. If youíve left your drink alone, just get a new one.
  • Don’t accept drinks from people you don’t know or trust. If you choose to accept a drink, go with the person to the bar to order it, watch it being poured, and carry it yourself.
  • At parties, donít drink from the punch bowls or other large, common open containers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
  • Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
  • Walk with purpose. Even if you donít know where you are going, act like you do.
  • Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable.
  • Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you donít trust or someone you donít know.
  • Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.

Traveling Safety: Driving

  • Keep your doors locked
  • Have extra car necessities (oil, jumper cables, etc.)
  • Try not to wait until the last minute to fill your gas tank; always keep it half-way full if you can
  • Have your keys ready when you go to unlock your car
  • Plan your route and know what safe places are on it (police stations, hospitals, etc.)

Tips to Remember

  • Keep cash with you at all times
  • Keep some change accessible
  • Memorize all important numbers/have important numbers easily accessible on your cell phone
  • Establish a code word so that family, friends, etc. know when to call for help
  • Have a backup plan in case the first fails
  • Carry a small noisemaker (like a whistle) and/or flashlight on your keychain
  • Be aware of your routine and try to alter it sometimes, if possible
  • Have an extra copy of keys

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