They don’t think like us

A 78-year old man was pumping gas, when 2 thugs approached him, knocked him out, and robbed him. Watch the video, it’s key to understanding this event.

Video and full story here. (h/t M.D.T.S.)

Here’s what stands out to me from this video.

They don’t think like us

The big thing that stood out to me was the mindset of the criminal.

They don’t think like us.

They don’t think like normal members of society. These two scumbags had no reserves about walking up to an elderly man, punching him, letting him fall to the ground (concussion, and yes falls can kill a person, especially an elderly person), rummage through his pants for whatever the might find, then leave him – bleeding – on the ground.

All they cared about was a quick score, and they were willing to do it at any cost.

I know you could never do something like this. I’m pretty sure you are appalled by this behavior.

Given that, it’s important to realize we cannot apply our same standards to people like this and expect them to comply. Reasoning does not work. Laws do not stop them. More laws will not stop them either. If you want to stop a criminal, you have to speak their language, and the law isn’t it.


I’m not going to claim to be the ultimate tactical guru that’s got his head on a swivel and is always in “code yellow” – because I’m human, and it is impossible to always be in code yellow (gotta sleep sometime, right?). Nevertheless, there are times when we need to make an effort to ensure we stay mindful of our surroundings, such as 4:30 AM at a gas station.

It’s unfortunate the victim had his back turned for so long. He never looked up from what he was doing, never kept his eyes open to see what was going on around him. This may not have prevented the attack, given there were multiple attackers and they obviously had planned to flank him then come up and surround him, blocking him in.

Keep looking at what you are doing. You’ve pumped gas a million times, you know what’s going on and probably could do it with your eyes closed. Given that, divert your eyes and attention elsewhere. Do you really need to stare at the gas cap while you screw it in? Or can you use your eyes to ensure the cap is seated, then look up and around to keep your attention on other things while your hands blindly screw the cap in?

It’s hard. We all get task fixation. We all let our guard down. But look for opportunities to break your fixation (SCAN! SCAN! SCAN!).

No Escape

I’ve started to make it a habit that when I pump gas to:

  1. Pull up to the pump, as far away as I can from the pump
  2. Minimize time between the car and the pump

When I pull up to the pump, of course you have to come close to the pump, but you don’t have to kiss it. Yes, you have to gauge the hose length, room on the other side (for someone using the next pump over), and other such measures. But the key is, the more room you can have between you and the pump, the more room you have to move, if you have to move.

The thing is, the pump is a wall, your car is a wall. Now there are only two ways in or out (or worse, leaving your car door open like this gentleman did, and now you have 3 walls and only 1 escape route). In this situation, the attackers knew this, with one closing in from the front, and the other from the rear. The guy in front was the initiator, the distraction, and the guy in the rear was the heavy that did the dirty work. Yeah, it seems they had a plan and had experience (and success) in doing this before. They weren’t stupid.

Make sure to give yourself an escape. Don’t fence yourself in between your car and the pump. Yes, you will have to to some extent because you have to get in and out of the car, you have to work with the pump, but just keep it short. While pumping, flip up the little gizmo that keeps the pump going automatically, then walk out of the area. Use it as time to walk around your car and look at your car (a useful maintenance tip; maybe you’ll see something that needs fixing or that your tires need air), but don’t just focus on your car – use it as time to get a good look all around the area. So many people focus their eyes and attention on the pumping – don’t; focus on everything around you. When the pump clicks off, finish your work quickly and get back in the car – don’t linger and tend to things. You can’t avoid being in this “funnel”, so just keep the time minimal.

A Gun

No, I don’t think a gun would have helped the victim here. What would have helped would have been skills to avoid the confrontation in the first place. I always go back to SouthNarc’s (Shivworks) “Managing Unknown Contacts” (MUC) skills, because Craig’s stuff is some of the best for dealing with this sort of thing and avoiding trouble before it starts.

The way a gun might have helped is that often when someone chooses to carry a gun, they also choose to have a different mindset about themselves. They tend to be someone more aware of crime and the possibility they could be a victim. They tend to be people that pay more attention to what goes on around them. And if this situation went far enough south, well… realize that a muzzle pointed at you speaks a language criminals understand.

But on the subject of guns, I did note the fact this happened in California – a very restrictive state when it comes to guns, at least for law-abiding citizens. It’s quite obvious from the video of the armed-robbery that those who don’t care about the law don’t care about the law, including gun laws.

Laws should enable good people to live their lives. Alas, gun-control laws rarely work out to enable good people; they tend to only embolden and enable bad people.

What do you see?

When you watch the video, what did you see? What is something we can learn from this?

Please share in the comments.