Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Tactical Ninja Takes on the Drive-Through ATM

In retrospect, briefly mentioning going to deposit my final, ginormous severance check was probably not the most tactically sound decision I'd ever made.

Fortunately, I survived my trip to the bank without getting jacked, which would have been especially ludicrous, because, as it turned out, my severance had already been direct-deposited to my account -- what I'd put in the slot was actually the deposit notification (though, in my defense, it looked exactly like a check, had a neat temperature-sensitive watermark on the back and, to my recollection, did not have "NOT A CHECK -- DO NOT DEPOSIT, DUMBASS" printed on it.

Sadly, depositing the not-check was probably still the most productive thing I'd done yesterday.

The Tactical Ninja, Revisited

This brings up a topic I've been meaning to take on for a while: How the tactical ninja protects himself at the drive-thru ATM.

As you might recall, the tactical ninja is all about figuring out how to defend himself, in everything from outlandish fantasy scenarios (Katrina-squared hordes gone wild, illegal alien zoot-suit riots, Invasion U.S.A. 2: al Qaeda Boogaloo, etc.), to more mundane situations like tactical bathroom use and what to do when a black person looks at you.

It's when an otherwise rational, personally responsible, self-defense-aware person goes off the rails and starts taking "Be polite, but have a plan to kill everyone you meet" waaaay too seriously.

Enter the Drive-Through ATM

People are generally (and rightfully) pretty wary at ATMs, even without pages-long warning notices).

At the drive-through ATM (or any drive-through), you're already behind the wheel of a weapon, but you're probably hemmed in by curbs and cars. And even though you're mostly enclosed, window glass isn't much of a barrier to the hypothetical gun-wielding attacker.

So what does the tactical ninja counsel at the drive-through? Be continually and fully aware of your surroundings (which is good advice in any circumstance), and leave the car in gear (drive) with your foot on the brake.

The scenario they're picturing? That scene from Ronin, where two bad guys are doing a deal inside a Jeep Cherokee, and the passenger pulls a gun on the driver (Gregor) to rip him off. The driver is able to turn the tables by stepping on the gas and making the car lurch forward, which he can do because he left it in gear (although he didn't -- it's actually a movie goof).

Since the tactical ninja empathizes with the former-KGB assassin with the lightning reflexes and tricked-out Glock, he leaves the car in drive, instead of putting it in park.

Herein lies the judgment -- which is more likely?
  • An ATM carjacking, where you'll be severely disadvantaged by not having the car in drive, or
  • An accident, where your foot slips off the gas and the car moves forward (which can also have fatal consequences, as demonstrated at this apartment complex card reader and car wash keypad.)
(Incidentally, both of those fatal accidents happened to women, who, like us short guys, sometimes have to unbuckle and open the car door, or otherwise stretch and lean way over to reach. Something for short tactical ninjas to consider.)

This is the problem I have with the tactical ninja mindset overall: It overemphasizes the more fantastical, scarier, sensationalized crime scenarios over more mundane, much more common risks (falls, accidents, heart attacks, etc.).

People as a whole are not good judges of risk, and the tactical ninjas tend to focus on violent crime -- especially crime scenarios where violent self-defense is the only viable solution (can't get away, can't acquiesce, must fight back).

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