Today I had a bit of a wake up call in regards to safety.  I was at the gym where I spent about two hours – working out, just hanging out, and showering.  When I got back to my van, I was sitting there in the driver’s seat checking my text messages and other correspondence, when the security guard came up an knocked on my window.

“How long have you been sitting there?  I didn’t see you there.” she said.

“Oh, I’ve been sitting here about fifteen minutes,” I replied.

“Oh, I knocked on the van earlier,” she said, “I thought maybe you were sleeping or something.”

“I’ve been in the gym for about two hours.” I replied.

“The reason I wanted to talk to you is because there have been a couple car break ins here at the gym, and since you have a van, I thought I would warn you, in case people think you have valuables in here or something.  It could be a target.”

“Oh really?!” I said.  I didn’t confirm that I had valuables, but I was grateful for the information, and I told her so.

I had thought that she was coming to be sure I wasn’t just hanging out in the parking lot.  She wasn’t.  She mentioned that there were sometimes people who just come and park and hang out.

I assured her that I had a membership there, and that I was there to work out, not hang out.  She said she knew that because she’s seen me around, going in and out of the gym. I thanked her for the information and drove off.

The gym parking lot where I go sometimes has a security guard and sometimes not.  From now on, when I go to the gym, I will seek out a parking space that is visible from inside the gym.  I will carry my valuables into the gym with me and put them in a locker, and I will put my Club on the steering wheel before going in.

This is significant because I think I’ve become a little complacent about safety.  I don’t have much in my van that can be considered a “valuable” by most.  I have my laptop – which is more valuable to me than it’s market value, since this is where I do my writing and my research.  Losing it would be devastating.  But other than that, really everything I have in the van is valuable to me, because it is necessary.  I don’t think anyone would steal my dirty laundry, but I would be hard put to replace all that if someone did.  I have a few books and some health and hygiene products.  My bed, blankets pillows… but in the end, it’s more the idea that I would feel violated if someone went through my van looking for something valuable. In addition, it would make me feel less safe sleeping.  It’s time to be vigilant about my safety again.

I expect that the risk is higher than normal right now, because it’s the holidays.  But I also fear that, as the gap between the affluent and the poor widens, car break-ins may become more common.  This makes me a little more hesitant to just leave my van on the street as I go to do things in the city.  Yeah, it bothers me!