Living Smarter

A modern-day, less-violent example of this “sense” might involve a mother of two or three kids at a restaurant. She moves the children’s chocolate milk cups around the table like chess pieces, knowing that little arms flail around as kids talk and laugh, getting up or sitting down constantly. She has a sense of constant preparedness and awareness.

To that end, here are some precautionary measures I try to practice:

• As I am sitting down in a restaurant, I look for the “exit” signs. It’s not paranoia or pessimism, but I have a family that I love and want to protect. In an emergency, my knowing where to go gives me added security. I do the same on busses, rapid-transit trains, stores, etc.

• When approaching my car in a crowded parking lot, I have my car key ready. As soon as I get in, I lock the doors, start the engine, and depart as quickly and efficiently as possible.

• At a drive-up ATM, I make certain the doors are locked and the radio is off so I can hear any sounds around me. Before I begin the transaction, I always check the rearview mirror to see if anyone is behind me. Someone may be impatient or irritable, or perhaps there’s a carload of guys with the radio blasting that might become a problem. If I get any bad vibes, I move to another ATM or to let them “play through.” I can always come back later.

• When someone knocks on my door at home, my two large dogs bark. Once they recognize who is knocking, the dogs stop. A thief might think twice about entering a home where dogs are growling and barking on the other side of the door. And don’t go to great lengths to tell mailmen and delivery men, “Oh, he won’t hurt you, he’s really just loud.” It’s OK if people think you have a protective dog. The word will pass along, and people will take notice.

• Although I don’t participate in social-network sites, I do encourage others to think about whether they really need all of those sites in their life. Do they have any idea how many people unknowingly give critical information away? For example, a woman’s photo is displayed on the site with the beautiful dress she wore on New Year’s Eve, along with her beautiful, expensive jewelry. Now, in random, posted conversations, she tells the world that someone close to her has passed away, and she doesn’t know how she’ll get through the funeral and the sadness. Some unscrupulous person sees the site and says, “Wow, I bet Gladys has lots more of that gold in her jewelry box; plus she’ll be at that funeral all day on Friday. Her profile says she’s a widow and she lives just minutes from the library — I could find that place.” C’mon, everyone, is a revelation of your privacy worth hooking up with an old high-school flame? I think not.

We can approach life in a number of ways. We can lament that being aware and cautious is too much responsibility, and we had rather be carefree and let the life chips fall where they may. But I think the real answer is somewhere in the middle. I simply call it living “smarter.”

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at

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