Something just isn't right...
October 14, 2008 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I would like to increase my awareness of surroundings. Have you ever discovered something “that you shouldn’t have”? Have you ever believed that shady activities were going on at/in a certain place? That a certain person was into shady things? That someone was going to do something shady? ….and had those suspicions confirmed? What were the tip offs?

I think I have pretty good situational awareness, but I believe this is a skill that we can always use some improvement. This is something I value for both personal safety reasons, and for amusement. I have an example for both.

Personal safety example: I have some creepy neighbors. It’s a family of four. I almost never see the mother, though she lives there. I see the father and daughter, but they never speak to us or any else on our street. The creepier part comes in with the son, he has a pick-up that he loads stuff into several nights a week, anytime from midnight to 3 a.m. What ever he’s loading into the truck is heavy, because we hear a BOOM BOOM noise. What could be going on?

Amusement and plain ol' curiousity: For some reason, I’ve always wanted to identify a whore house. Going by the news, I’m certain that they don’t look like anything in the movies. I know I’m not going to see a man in a lime green suit with a glass cane walk into some fancy house. Every time they show a brothel (which are illegal here) on the news, it looks like any other house or hotel. I’ve always wondered how they were discovered and what were the tip offs.

I’m curious to hear about your experiences, too. I try to be alert of my surroundings, but I’m sure that I still probably miss a lot of tip offs, that some of you may not miss.
posted by sixcolors to Society & Culture (19 answers total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is pretty weird and chatfiltery. -- cortex

 
I can't say I've ever lived near a brothel, but the blogger at My Neighbours Are Hoors did, and wrote fairly amusingly about the obvious signs.

I do live down the street from an honest-to-gosh crack house-- at least, that's what my apartment manager calls it when he issues little safety bulletins. Crack houses have people stopping by at all hours of the night, people sitting outside acting shady, and the occasional outburst of domestic violence. Ours gets raided by local PD every 10 or so months, things get quiet, and then it starts back up again.

(The last time, someone in the crack house robbed the neighboring apartment building, which apparently ensured a SWAT team response later on in the summer. Don't shit where you smoke crack, kids.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 1:22 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


I'm not sure what the question is. This seems rather chatfiltery. Are you asking how to increase your personal safety through powers of observation? If so, I don't understand how your neighbor's activities are affecting you except possibly by awakening you, and aside from that, you're just being nosy. Are you asking how to be nosier?
posted by desjardins at 1:28 PM on October 14, 2008


he has a pick-up that he loads stuff into several nights a week, anytime from midnight to 3 a.m. What ever he’s loading into the truck is heavy, because we hear a BOOM BOOM noise. What could be going on?
and
For some reason, I’ve always wanted to identify a whore house.
I think you need to take a break and consider that your motivation may be putting you at risk for developing confirmation bias. The activities you've described don't sound even remotely whore-housey (not that I have any experience with that industry, but I think that if there were a whorehouse next door, you'd hear different sorts of boom-booming at odd hours. I'm just saying). If you're concerned about the safety of your neighborhood or the welfare of members of that little family, keep a weather eye out, but don't jump to conclusions too fast. There may be nothing for you to land on.
posted by Flipping_Hades_Terwilliger at 1:30 PM on October 14, 2008


I'm not sure what the question is. This seems rather chatfiltery. Are you asking how to increase your personal safety through powers of observation?

Si.

I don't understand how your neighbor's activities are affecting you except possibly by awakening you, and aside from that, you're just being nosy.

That was a pretty bad example. While I don't think I will be personally affected by those neighbors, I'm quite concerned about what may be going on. I don't want to live by crooks, and if I discover something wrong (with proof), I think it is my responsibility to report them.
posted by sixcolors at 1:37 PM on October 14, 2008


The activities you've described don't sound even remotely whore-housey (not that I have any experience with that industry, but I think that if there were a whorehouse next door, you'd hear different sorts of boom-booming at odd hours. I'm just saying).

Those were two entirely unrelated examples.
posted by sixcolors at 1:39 PM on October 14, 2008


I don't think it's exactly chatfilter. I think he's asking why some people are more perceptive to visual cues than others, and what he can do to increase his awareness. With the added bonus of giving out an example of what he would like to find. Seems up and up to me.

I've been offered drugs in front on my then girlfriend on several occasions, and she had no idea it had even happened any of the times. On the street, at parties. "You get high?" Seems like a pretty straight forward question to me, but to someone that probably hadn't even gone through D.A.R.E> it went right over her head. "Big fat rocks?" said in near-ebonics on the street only got her to ask me what had been said, since I replied, "No thanks." After I translated she asked, "He was selling jewelry?"

I'm also pretty sure I avoided a mugging at one point because my spider senses went off.

I have no idea how to increase this ability. Maybe read a lot. If you know the subject, you'll know the clues.

p.s. you're neighbor works as a Refield. If you drive a stake through his master's heart he'll be free!
posted by cjorgensen at 1:40 PM on October 14, 2008


I don't think it's exactly chatfilter. I think he's asking why some people are more perceptive to visual cues than others, and what he can do to increase his awareness. With the added bonus of giving out an example of what he would like to find. Seems up and up to me.

Pretty much. But, I am looking for concrete examples too. because....

I'm also pretty sure I avoided a mugging at one point because my spider senses went off.

I am often given similar advice when I go to self-defense seminars. That doesn't go well for me. When I'm out, I'm in an constant "paranoid" mode, I can't distinguish that from a "gut-feeling".

The first reply was a very good response and the type of answer I'm looking for.
posted by sixcolors at 1:47 PM on October 14, 2008


Re: the first example:

There are any number of legitimate things that someone could be doing early in the morning. For example, my father regularly loaded antiques into his truck to take them to antique shows at 3 or 4 in the morning. I helped him. We had a three hour drive to the market that opened at 8am. The fact that we were doing this at 3am does not make us creepy. In fact, all of your groceries, your newspapers, most of the crap you buy gets loaded on trucks at 3 or 4 in the morning at some point. Sometimes on a pickup truck by poor souls who have to work in the middle of the night. Creepy? No. perfectly normal? Yes.
posted by gyusan at 1:48 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Heh.

I once lived opposite a smack dealer. What gave it away was the police asking to use our lounge as an observation post.
posted by mandal at 1:52 PM on October 14, 2008


I assume smack is the same thing as crack? How did the police find out, what made them suspicious?
posted by sixcolors at 1:56 PM on October 14, 2008


Furthering on what gyusan said: midnight to 3 AM is when your shift begins if you're delivering morning papers or servicing a weekly route. The BOOM BOOM? Could be bricks of papers bundled 50 a piece getting tossed or slid into the back. (Or out, if he's dropping off from the press to his garage before re-loading.)
posted by greenland at 1:58 PM on October 14, 2008


You could get a pair of these binoculars to keep an eye on the neighbors' truck late at night. Or you could ask them, "What's up with the heavy loading noises?"

I used to have a building superintendent who was a thief. One time he unlocked my door and came into my apartment when he thought I wasn't home (I was; awkward!), and one time I heard another tenants banging on his door, screaming, "YOU FUCKING THIEF! YOU CRACKHEAD!", and one time I got a letter from my landlord saying that the super had been fired and there was a restraining order keeping him away from the building and to contact the police immediately if I saw him. How did I know he was a thief? Just a gut feeling based on that stuff, I guess.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:59 PM on October 14, 2008


I assume smack is the same thing as crack?

Oh sweetie, stay off the streets!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:07 PM on October 14, 2008 [18 favorites]


If you want to be more aware of your surroundings, use what you already have: look and listen and smell. For instance, I live in a neighborhood of many young immigrant men living away from their families. I don't understand a lot of Spanish, but from listening to inflection and catching a few words I comprehend I'm able to pick out the distant sounds of a fight brewing as distinct from a few guys horsing around, even though the breaking bottles and loud ranchera music remain the same. I know, among the single-family attached houses a block north of me, which people regularly smoke weed out on their little patios until the late hours. I can distinguish pretty easily between the sound of a particular motorcycle belonging to a guy up the street and most other motorcycles because of the way the exhaust system allows reverberations. None of this really goes to my personal safety, but it's all learning from acclimation: spend enough time in a particular area paying attention to the constants, and you'll be able to pick out most anything out of place.*

*Offer void in case of ninjas
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 2:09 PM on October 14, 2008


I once caught my brother stealing cookies from the tin in the kitchen. He forgot to wioe the chocolate off his face when he came upstairs to bed.

My advice is to be skeptical of everything you see. Usually you are right.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:09 PM on October 14, 2008


I assume smack is the same thing as crack?

Smack = heroine
Crack = freebased cocaine

How did the police find out, what made them suspicious?

There could be several reasons, none of which would be relevant to you (known criminals in the building, a tipoff).

This is an extremely chatfiltery question that you've managed to wrap in a long-winded... something...
posted by mkultra at 2:10 PM on October 14, 2008


I never ever see my neighbors unloading groceries out of their car. I'm pretty sure they're all vampires.
posted by grateful at 2:13 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Smack is heroin. Crack is cocaine (in rock form).

I live in a marginally bad neighborhood, with a history of gunshots and drug houses that I can see from the front door.

While a pickup getting loaded up after midnight would be pretty annoying, it isn't by itself a sign of anything happening. Drug sales require customers. The place would have strangers coming by at all hours. There will be observable patterns -- somebody going in to smoke a bowl for 20 minutes, then coming out and rushing off. People parking around the corner for no reason and approaching on foot. People cutting through your yard to approach the neighbor's back door.

More blatant drug houses might have a constant party in the front yard or porch and seem to be a nonstop rotation of "friends" coming by to visit. You may see lookouts (often teenagers on bicycles, who might endlessly circle back an forth instead of going anywhere) and heavyset, obvious thugs acting as security.

Even a discreet fence (dealer in stolen property) will require people coming and going with the goods.

There's nothing in what you've said to trigger my suspicions. I would take the opportunity to go over and have a casual friendly conversation about the weather or whatnot, then lightly drop in a reference to hearing the truck loading just as you're drifting off to sleep.

More generally, Gavin de Becker's book The Gift of Fear is often recommended.
posted by dhartung at 2:14 PM on October 14, 2008


Smack is heroin. Crack is cocaine (in rock form).

I know what crack is, but I know zero about heroin.

While a pickup getting loaded up after midnight would be pretty annoying, it isn't by itself a sign of anything happening. Drug sales require customers. The place would have strangers coming by at all hours.

They have that, all through the night, some nights. Sometimes, the people just sit in their car with it still running, sometimes they enter/exit the house from the back basement door. The son has a nice pick-up, plus random second cars. Cars that he only keeps for a week or two and some of the cars are really nice.

Even a discreet fence (dealer in stolen property) will require people coming and going with the goods.

This is what me and my family suspects. Even without the strange 3 am activities, the father and son, rubs many people on our street the wrong way. The vibes are quite creepy.
posted by sixcolors at 2:23 PM on October 14, 2008


« Older Perl & mod_fcgid- how can I make sure it's...   |   Should I stay or should I go? (Education remix) Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.