Ever since I moved to Portland, Maine I’ve had several people talk to me about safety.
“Don’t walk alone in shady areas at night. If you have to walk at night don’t wear headphones. Always be aware of your surroundings. Don’t leave your doors unlocked.”
I truly appreciate my new friends and coworkers looking out for me, but what they seem to forget is that I grew up in Chicago. Granted I lived in the suburbs for most of my life up until I moved to downtown Chicago last year, but the same basic, safety rules applied even in the suburbs. It’s just what you did. From a very young age my influencers taught me how to be safe almost to the point of paranoia:
- Always wear your purse across your body, not just on one shoulder.
- Always have the zippers of your purse facing towards you, not away from you.
- Never hang your purse on the back of your chair at a restaurant.
- If you’re walking home and you feel like someone MIGHT be following you, change direction so they don’t see where you live.
- Walk with a purpose even when you’re a tourist.
- Keep your windows and doors locked when you’re not at home.
- Never advertise the fact that you live alone when you’re talking to strangers.
I admit some of these rules sound a little silly, but I’ve been following these rules for most of my life and have never been robbed, attacked, or had my purse stolen. Again it could just be the paranoia that was instilled in me at the age of 5.
Technically I now live in the Parkside neighborhood of Portland, and while the neighborhood has its characters I don’t consider any of them dangerous—just a little kooky. In fact I have a pretty good rapport with most of them. They usually ask how pup is doing, how I’m doing, etc. Most of my neighbors are pretty nice people who keep to themselves.
I like to think that I have a pretty good head on my shoulders, and while anyone can fall victim to a crime I do believe that if you use a little common sense (and perhaps a little paranoia) you can significantly cut down your chances. Moving to a new city is scary, but I’m glad that I moved from a truly scary, crime-filled city to a pretty calm one.
What safety habits have you picked up in your new city?