Walking my dog around the park, as usual, at 7:30 this morning, not unusual, I was listening to a podcast. One of my favorites is Radio Lab. I have always greatly admired, and yes, darn-it, been infatuated with Robert Krulwich for a couple of decades. (We are ALL getting older.) He sounds like such a smart and truly funny and kind man.
I have similarly learned to appreciate Jad Aboumrad. I really like hearing about his new parenting experiences and his son cooing. I am 25 years into my own parenting experiences. That is another story or series of stories, books, and volumes. (Including months 3-9 of my first pregnancy.)
Any way, I am listening and walking. Frequently, stopping as my dog stops to sniff, take a leak, pretend to pee, for the 9th time, just to slow me down, chewing the bug she thinks she saw under the grass to the side of the sidewalk rising on one side, descending, and flattening on the others. off track again. Back on track. The subject matter of this podcast was “Held Hostage”. The podcast profiled different forms of hostage taking, the victims, and their families experiences.
The moment I heard how a kidnap victim should behave I realized some things: I would make a terrible hostage. The ‘professional’ hostage educator, likely from the hostage insurance company. He was saying that you never tell your hostage takers, the kidnappers, that you have hostage insurance. OK, how weird is that in my not quite totally USA experience? It simply doesn’t register as a possibility that something like a Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) member is going to shovel me off the street. (I am too heavy to sweep off the street.) But, in other parts of the world, Mexico, Columbia, Somalia, India…..kidnapping is a very real and constant threat.
The next thing the professional anti-kidnapper says he tells his clients is that if they are kidnapped do not look the kidnappers in the eyes. Really? I have a hard time talking to someone without looking into their eyes. I mean, that is one of the things I recall being taught as a positive way to let the person you are listening/talking to that you are listening/talking to them. So, how am I not to look into the face, and eyes on that face giving me orders and instructions and threatening my life and to whom I am now totally infuriated with and dependent upon for my survival!?! “Pay attention to me! Look here! Move there! Do this! Here! Now!”
How do I remember, under these terrifying conditions, the instructions not to look the kidnappers in the eyes? Especially, if they have me standing, sitting, cowering, or just plain shitting in my pants, in front of them demanding that I listen to them with more attention than I had when in the midst of contractions while giving birth to each of my kids. At least, during labor I knew I was straining and focusing on surviving the hours long repeated and uncontrolled bodyquakes of pain, humiliation (it ain’t pretty), fear, and hunger in order to issue forth the most important human beings I will ever meet in my entire life.
When I talk to people I look them in the eye. It is natural for me. I don’t usually look at my feet or at the flea on the thread of carpet closest to my foot while speaking to someone. Someone I have to listen to because my life DOES depend on my paying attention to them. I would make a lousy hostage. I am probably the first one they would kill if I were taken with a group. Sorry, group. I didn’t mean to become another of your nightmares.
Next, the voice, not Robert, and not Jad, instructs us not to act confrontational. Well, now I am fucked for certain. I am the epitome of confrontational. Hell, it is not unusual for me to say something to someone I have never met before. Example: I once told someone in IKEA that if they didn’t have to hold their pants up with one hand, while walking like there was hot shit in her pants, just so your ‘sagging’ pants won’t fall down you would have that hand free if they just got a friggin’ belt. I have strongly asked smokers, I don’t know, to please put out their cigarettes, suggest they smoke elsewhere, quit, or not to smoke around kids. (Avid former smoker here.) I do not know how not to confront people who irk me. I learned that lesson well. Thanks, Mom. I am the one in the grocery store strongly urging the mother hitting her noisy, bored, upset child in her cart that hitting is not a good discipline option. Or loudly saying to my child, “Wouldn’t it be nice if that baby’s Father (presumably the guy shopping with and waiting for the woman) could hold the baby while Mom pulls out her wallet, pays the bill, stows the dollars and coins she gets back in change, and maybe even pick up the grocery bags. Oddly enough they do not seem to appreciate my input. Yes, that is also me chasing your kid down the mall trying to figure out why there is no parent within 25 yards of him or her. I have turned more kids over to mall/store security because their parent(s) are completely unaware their kid is missing. I know they do not know this because the security guards confirm they have not received a report of a missing child. I have not yet figured out if that is by choice or accidental. I admit own kids got away from me once or twice. Freaked me right the F out.
As I am listening to this report, walking my dog, empathizing with the daughter of a kidnap victim held for 265 days in Columbia I realized that maybe I should not plan to visit areas of the world where it is even remotely likely I could be kidnapped.