“a good reminder to make sure you are walking with a purpose and are fully attentive.”

night walker
Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

“Dear PoPville,

Last night around 10p I took my dog out for his evening walk and called my boyfriend (since he is currently out of town). As I turned the corner onto U street from 14th, a man, seemingly not impaired in any manner, approached me and grabbed me around the waist. I immediately screamed, shoved him off and ran to my apartment building.

Although shaken up and a bit scared, I am totally fine but I wanted to share this incident given the importance of staying alert, aware and off of your phone while walking at night. Being on the phone is not a reason to excuse this behavior, however it was a good reminder to make sure you are walking with a purpose and are fully attentive.”

20 Comment

  • A good reminder to everyone! (I don’t walk and talk but I am always concerned about people who do. If you feel like talking makes you safer, you may want to consider one of those new apps that let’s a friend or family track your trip home or one of the safety button apps instead).
    .
    And also, not just for your safety, but for pet’s safety too. I saw someone on the phone near U Street a few weeks ago and they almost let their dog walk into the street when cars were coming because they weren’t paying attention.

    • And to clarify, when I say “your,” I meant “everyone reading this” not OP.

    • @FridayGirl, related to that, I’ve seen several times now when an owner is on the cell phone and not even looking at the dog while walking. They just keep pulling on the leash and the dog gets caught on something, or wants to stop to use the bathroom and can’t cause he/she just keeps getting pulled. I’ve been too far away to get the attention of the owner in most cases… I just wish people wouldn’t do that it makes me so sad (not saying that the OP did this by the way)..

  • Glad your safe and a good reminder. I’ve always hoped that walking my dog would make me a less attractive target for criminals who don’t want to deal with a dog. Of course, nothing is a guarantee for safety. we can only take precautions.

  • I appreciate OP raising this point in this way, since it always seems to be called ‘victim-blaming’ when it’s raised by a third party. It’s a service to yourself and to those around you to pay attention to your surroundings. Some people do bad things when they think no one is watching.

    • It can also be called “obvious.” Always a good idea to pay attention to your surroundings, but query whether someone intent on making physical contact with the OP would have been deterred if she was paying attention. Recall several posts about flashers and grabbers that have appeared on this forum.

      • ah

        Not sure it’s so much deterrence as being more alert and prepared to act. Fortunately OP seems to have been alert enough to fend off the attack, but one can easily imagine how it would be much easier for a perpetrator to do some real damage in the first surprise moments that last longer when someone is distracted on a phone call.

  • First, to the OP, so glad you are safe, and thanks for the situational awareness reminder. I was wondering if you reported this to MPD, and if so, what did they say? If you haven’t reported it, you should. It’s not too late, and it would be good for the police to have a record in case this creeper is a serial offender.

  • justinbc

    Is it possible to walk without a purpose? Like are there people who just begin walking with no general idea of what they want to accomplish in doing so?

    • ah

      Have you looked around outside ever? This is constantly going on.

      • +1. And also, I do take walks just to take walks all the time — but there’s still a difference between not having a purpose and not paying attention.

      • justinbc

        Really? People just aimlessly walking with no destination or reason for walking? Even when I go running with no intended destination it’s still for the purpose of exercise. I can’t imagine my body ever just spontaneously getting up and my feet taking me somewhere and there not being a purpose for it.

        • It’s absolutely going on all the time. Maybe it’s not so much that these people *lack* purpose or a destination, it’s just that their absentminded ambling isn’t their *primary* purpose; the walking is kind of this incidental thing that just happens while they’re “doing” something else.

    • Scrolling on my phone while I wait for the dog to sniff every. single. leaf. = walking without purpose.

  • Anyone in this day and age in a large city should carry a bottle of pepper spray and perhaps even a personal alarm.

  • I work in College Park, and my commute takes me past the main entrance of the University of Maryland campus on Route 1, which is a very narrow and a very busy street. More than half of the students walk along Route 1 with earbuds in place and their noses glued to their smartphones. The other day, as I was waiting to pull out of a parking lot onto Route 1, a student walking briskly along the sidewalk, earbuds in place and his nose glued to his smartphone passed in front of me. He was headed straight for a light pole. I could have honked my horn to try to get his attention or yelled out to him but thought, “Nope, he probably needs to learn this lesson the hard way.” Sure enough, he walked briskly headfirst into the light pole, and landed on his ass, probably more out of surprise than the force of the impact. And then he glared at the light post as if it was its fault. Sometimes I fear for the future of our great nation . . . .