Many criminals use a ruse or distraction to get what they want; they ask you a question “do you have the time?” or “have any change?” then follow with an attack when you are distracted. Part of this process is referred to as the interview stage in the self-defense world.
So, how can I avoid talking to this person yet not come off in a rude, abrasive manner that might set-off that person that has bad intentions or that gives me that creeper vibe?
Keep in mind there a few things that you generally do not immediately know about a person that approaches you on the street: You don’t know this person’s intentions, if this person is legitimately crazy, or if he/she is just panhandling and asking for money.
The 3- E’s of Being Elusive (or Rude)
Show empathy. I say, “Sorry man.” Shoulders shrug, my hand’s go up in a non-threatening, open manner to show this gesture with body language. Note that in this situation I am not being aggressive by saying; “back off,” or “get lost ya creep” unless I feel it is necessary and appropriate for the situation.
Make an excuse. Some good, generic words that happen to work for me are, “I don’t have any.” For me it does not matter what the question is, when I’m on the street in an area where I feel the need to be more alert I am not allowing myself to be approachable to engage in small talk, most importantly with people that make me uneasy. “Sorry man, I don’t have any” seems to work for most situations because I’m not open to taking the conversation any further.
This is self-explanatory. Leave the area.
I recall one time I had this happen to me in DC right after finishing teaching a seminar when I was putting my equipment back in my car. A guy that I identified as a Creeper was closing distance and attempted to approach me when my car door was open and I was not yet in the driver seat:
He said: “Yo man you …” (I couldn’t understand the rest; it was incoherently mumbled) as he tried to walk closer to my car to draw me in.
My response was, “Sorry man, it’s gettin’ late, I gotta go.”
When saying this I gestured to my non-existent watch with my index finger, and then looked and pointed up emphatically to a parking sign behind the man, as if it were important. It wasn’t late, it was about 2:00pm, and the gesture was important enough to get him to turn around and look at the sign, which was enough time for me to close the car door, start the engine, and get moving.
I do not know his intent, but I knew that I had nothing to gain from letting him get closer and draw me into a conversation. Remember, you’re not going to meet your next significant other or best friend in a parking lot or on the streets. The good ones don’t hang out in parking lots, it’s just creepy. So if you get that bad vibe from someone you don’t have to talk to them! It’s ok to be rude and this is an easy way to shut down an undesired communication attempt before it begins.
Train smart & stay safe,
Evan has been training in a variety of martial arts and combative systems for over ten years. His formal training began in Raleigh, North Carolina in Cuong Nhu, an eclectic martial art. Since moving to the DC area, Evan has been training in the S.P.E.A.R. System and Personal Defense Readiness (PDR) as a certified PDR coach for over eight years, and holds specialized certifications in Ground-fighting and Weapons Protection. He has been teaching self-defense regularly since 2008 and assists in teaching train-the-trainer PDR certification courses for Blauer Tactical Systems. He has also delved into several other combative and self-defense training programs and continuously evolves how he teaches self-defense. Evan teaches on-site self-defense classes and seminars in the DC and surrounding areas.