I am pretty sure I averted a robbery last night in the Mexico City metro. My family and I were about as ridiculously conspicuous as could be, the only people dressed in formal wear on the train platform (we were here because my spouse was to officiate at a wedding and we were on our way there).
A group of three people standing about 10 feet away from us went from speaking quietly with one another to one person tilting their head towards my husband, and then moved to within 2 feet of us on an otherwise not crowded platform. I told my spouse and son to move down as the train arrived, so we could just get on another car (hoping this was all in my head and would just be over once we moved), so as the train arrived, we moved down about 20 feet to get on one car down.
The three people ran to get on the same car as us (neither car was crowded when the train arrived) and split up, entering the car behind us through both doors and sitting spread out from one another across the car. I made very solid, uncomfortably long and serious eye contact with the individual sitting nearest to me (while I stood with my back against the doors). Scanning the train, I also saw that a train security officer was in our car. I made eye contact with him as well.
When we left the train, I was prepared to make noise, and the security officer held up the train, making eye contact again with us (I nodded and said in Spanish that we were okay) before the train pulled off with the three people still on it.
I'll never know whether they intended to rob or otherwise harm us, and I am fine with that. It was an uncomfortable situation where my first benefit-of-the-doubt assessment revealed that something was not right about the situation, and I acted upon that assessment. We've ridden the metro several times since then with increased awareness and have encountered nothing but grace from our fellow riders.
Thank you to everyone who has taught and practiced self-defense with me for helping me manage this situation, whatever it was, and helping me develop tools to make myself and others around me safe in the places where I want to be. Thank you Sei Shihan Nancy Lanoue, for having us practice physical self-defense last Wednesday in black belt class!
Kate, Thousand Waves Martial Arts and Self-Defense Center