Van E. Harl


The Colonel was out of town so I was doing my dad-taxi driver chore, getting our daughter to all of her appointed rounds. I know parents worry when their teenage child first gets a driver’s license but I am looking forward to that day. We were headed home from some event when I noticed that the truck was low on fuel. It is a diesel vehicle so you have to know where the gas stations are that sell diesel. This means going for fuel is a destination trip, not just getting fuel on the fly like the gas burner people do it.

First I told my daughter I was going to stop for fuel and then I decided not to. She immediately started in on me about not being prepared. She advised me driving around with half a tank of fuel was not safe. “What if there was an emergency and we needed to drive out of town in a hurry and the gas stations were closed because the power was off” she asked me. She gets this stuff from me, so I guess I should be happy she thinks that way. I drove past the truck-stop on the east end of town and was headed home when she stated “Dad, live life on a full tank of gas.” So I pulled into the Wilmes GMC dealer with the intention to turn around. Of course she thought I was going to stop and look at new vehicles.

I went back to the truck-stop and fueled up. For me there is a small feeling of security having a full tank in my truck. It is that old Eagle Scout thing that always wants me to “be prepared.” Prior to the fuel up we had been shopping. Now that is a red letter day when I go shopping with my teenage daughter. In the old days I was taught to open the vehicle door for ladies and help them in. I don’t do that anymore. I am not trying to un-chivalrous. I realized that as my back was turned to the world helping a female into a vehicle, we were both exposed to the potential misdeeds of the bad guys. Now I let my wife and daughter get themselves into a vehicle as I scan the parking lot looking for problems.

Never walk up to your vehicle without looking around and most importantly looking behind you. Remember that young woman in the Target store who was abducted in the parking lot and later found dead. I don’t know but I would suspect that her assailant come up from behind. You are actually more vulnerable in the daylight hours than at night. Most people are worried about something bad happening in a parking lot at night, but sadly give little thought to their safety in the broad day light. “It is a busy place with lots of people, nothing was supposed to happen” is the story I have personally hear as a cop when something happened to a child after the parents dropped her off at the mall to “hang” with friends for the day.

One of the false senses of security is the video monitoring cameras that are everywhere in the business world. People look up and see the cameras and believe that they are being monitored at all times by security personnel. If something happens of course, with our 911 call for help mentality, it is falsely believed that help is instantly on the way. There were lots of cameras at the Target store but the young woman is still dead.

In the Air Force we always talk about “check 6.” If you are looking straight ahead that would be looking at the 12 o’clock position. So checking the 6 o’clock position would be looking to your rear, looking to see if the enemy is sneaking up on your back. Checking your “6” where ever you go is always a good idea. As you are walking to a vehicle or anyplace, stop and completely turn around and slowly sweep the area with your eyes. Try it in a parking and watch to see it people look at you. If a “bad guy” is casing you they get the message you are paying attention.

That evening I took my daughter to the meet a large group of friends at the movies. She got out of the truck with a jacket and umbrella. I overheard one of her friends comment, “you are always prepared.” As an old scout that was music to my ears. Keep your fuel tank full and always check “6”.