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"walls of the city" logo conceptualized by Oleg Volk and executed by Linoge. Logo is © "walls of the city".

clueless is no way to live life

As you can tell by its omission from this weblog, I have been largely ignoring the burglary/shoot-out at the Chula Vista Apple Store that transpired earlier this week… sure, I used to live about two miles from there, and I walked past that particular store more times than I can count while strolling through the mall (crazy outdoor-style place, which is actually rather common in Kalifornistan), but the story was pretty simple so I did not care too much: some folks tried to burglarize the Apple Store, the mall security responded, the folks pointed guns at the security guard, who then exchanged fire with the burglars. One criminal died not far from the scene, and the other two were apprehended shortly thereafter.

Apart from the security guard being armed, this was pretty much a run-of-the-mill non-event, at least until Hsoi pointed out this quote to me:

“That’s crazy. That’s so scary. This is supposed to be a really upscale, comfortable neighborhood and for stuff like this to happen is just scary,” said resident Janae Sergio.

*blink*

*blinkblink*

Wow.

Like I said, I used to live literally within bicycling distance of that mall, so let me illustrate the situation to those folks who are blissfully unaware of the finer points of San Diego geography. This is where the Otay Ranch Town Center is (look for the red peg labeled (A)):


View Larger Map

So, the dead idiot was apparently from National City, visible on the map as being about eight miles to the west-north-west of the mall. Now, it could just be that I was a little sensitized to the area on account of having to drive through it every single day on my way into and out of the Naval Station, but to describe National City as “not a nice part of town” would be putting it mildly, and I dare say the statistics bear that out – it ranks higher than the national average for all types of crime except larceny, arson, and (ironically) burglary, with murder leading the pack at 2.1 times average. Even though the San Diego mass transit system stop was just about within visible distance of the main gates, we strongly encouraged our sailors using it to find alternative means of transportation after dark… or just stay on the ships.

Cast your eyes south a bit south to that beautiful greenspace just under Imperial Beach – the Tijuana River National Estuary Reserve. It is a park, so it has to be great, right? Wrong. San Diego’s crime stats are about on par with the national average, but this particular corner of the city doubles even those numbers, across the board… and it is all of eight miles from the mall as well.

Working our way around, do you see an area labeled “Otay Mesa”, about four miles due south of the Apple Store? While I was stationed at San Diego, the commanding officers of the base and all ships ported there issued standing, lawful orders prohibiting all military personnel from going into that area, unless on official business. The crime in that area – specifically drug-related – had gotten so bad, that they simply did not want to deal with military folks getting caught up in it any more. I could almost see that area from a hill I biked on just west of the mall.

And, last but not least, do you see that grey line about five miles to the south of the shopping center? Yeah, that is Mexico. For most of my time in San Diego, I was prohibited from going there as well, for obvious reasons.

Now, for the sake of honesty, I will grant that Chula Vista’s crime rate, specifically, was lower than the national average for everything except car theft, so as long as Janae Sergio is not concerning herself with anything outside of a two-mile radius from the mall, she is more-or-less right (especially with the whole “upscale” thing – I paid more for an apartment a third the size of my house than we are for our mortgage), but that is pretty much the same as shoving your head in the sand and painting a target on your ass.

People walk. People drive. People take buses. People catch cabs. And criminals do all of those things as well, which is hardly surprising, given they are a subset of “people” – after all, the dead scumbag obviously was not deterred enough by the eight-mile drive to find a closer target, and no “good neighborhood” in the world has a force field that is capable of keeping out all criminals at all times. Thinking “it cannot happen here” is naive at best, willfully ignorant at worst, and likely to leave you in a position of unintentional victimhood if you bury yourself too far in it, especially in an area that is literally surrounded with very rough parts of town.

“Situational awareness” starts with your immediate surroundings – what you can see, hear, and feel directly – but it also extends to your choices of where to live, where to work, where to shop, and everything else. Given that the Sheriff of San Diego County has absolutely no problems forcing law-abiding citizens to remain defenseless in some of the more-violent areas of the nation, it would have to take a LOT of money to convince me to reside anywhere in that city, now that I am no longer bound by orders. Your safety is your own responsibility, folks, and my mind just boggles that there is no shortage of dangerously clueless individuals like Janae.

2 comments to clueless is no way to live life

  • That’s what gets me… I hear this comment all the time. I can’t be too harsh on people because we’re not born knowing it, and we have generally worked to make society civil and polite. The problem I see is that people aren’t willing to accept that violence and crime can and does happen everywhere. Even when it does happen — right in their backyard — many people don’t change their habits or do anything about it. I know someone that recently had their house broken into, but yet they’ve done nothing to change their habits to prevent it from happening again. I don’t understand.

    But then, I guess we all have our threshold and it’s a matter of finding it. Trouble is, I just hope that for some that crossing that threshold doesn’t become so costly.

  • Some people are simply incapable of accepting reality, even though it is figuratively slapping them in the face, simply because that reality is too rough, too dirty, too unacceptable to their world view. They compartmentalize it, shove it aside, and pretend it never exists, and thus they can go on living in blissful – but self-imposed – ignorance.

    Unfortunately, ignorance does not save you from reality, it simply leaves you defenseless against it, and while I am fine with people imposing that fate upon themselves, I have problems with those who would use it as leverage for legislation or further societal constraints.