17% Streetwise

After last week’s close call, I reconsidered pepper spray. Kudos to my mom, who gave some to me probably 4 years ago. I remember laughing at her.

“It’s Shelton. I’ll never need this, Mom!” I shook my head and shoved it in the glove box.

Well, never has arrived.

I pulled out the clear containment unit.


In case you can’t read the label, it says “17% Streetwise”. I thought it odd. I don’t want to be only 17% streetwise. What about the other 83%? I need to be 100% streetwise. Hence the spray with cayenne pepper in it.

The directions stated to fire it at least every six months if not in use regularly. D’oh! I turned the red nozzle a quarter turn.

“Even works on drug addicts!” the page yelled.


I pointed it away from me and sprayed on the insert. Watery, bright orange goo spurted out of the bottle. Guess it still works.

This morning, I picked up the vial. It felt light and compact in my hand for such a strong deterrent. Where to put it? Would I be quick enough on the draw if I placed it in my left coat pocket? I opted for the right, mp3 player on the left.

I opened the back door. The dark morning was cold. Stars glittered above me and temps hovered at 40 degrees. Rex followed me down the driveway to say goodbye.

I ran along by streetlight. But I couldn’t relax. I listened. What was that? Any and every strange sound made me jump. I passed the first bench-and-garbage can combo on my route. The lights showed me nobody there. Good.

I pressed on to the next pairing. This was where it happened last week. The two objects sat side by side in shadow. Nothing moved. No sound. Cars passed on my right, beyond the median. I kept going. It, too, was empty. I breathed a sigh of relief. The entire 3-mile run passed without incident.

I thought about fear. It’s so crippling. FDR once said, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Fear holds a wealth of deadly imagination within it, a potential frightening world within our day to day reality. But we don’t need to live there.

I want to make the most of this life, every bit. I don’t want to live hoping nothing bad happens. I want to live, looking for good to happen. I have to believe, should anyone ever approach me, that God would be with me. I have to know that He would direct me and protect me in critical moments. He does it now. I only have to pay attention. In that, maybe I can be more than 83% Godwise.

Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. – Psalm 119:105


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