Wake up calls come to us in different shapes and sizes. For some, it might be a medical result to kickstart a healthier way of living. It might be falling out with a friend that teaches you more about others or yourself. Or, in the case of the small hours of White Night this weekend, it might be having your phone and wallet snatched from your hands as you text your life away, completely unawares of what's around you.
Melbourne is wonderful. But it's a big city that's getting bigger and as with any big, wonderful city there comes the inevitable darker side of crime. Naturally, if you put yourself blatantly in the path of this crime, you face becoming more susceptible and vulnerable to it. Point in case at 4am Sunday morning as I walked down a darker, quieter part of Little Collins St under the false security of a city alive with activity.
Complacency can creep in when you live in the lucky country. I'm always incredibly cautious when I travel overseas and it's usually with a sigh of relief when I return back to the comforts of Australia. But we are not bereft of our own increasing societal issues and the fact of the matter is that walking home at 4am on one's own is generally not a good idea in most cities. Sure, in a perfect world we should be able to walk home at whatever time we like without fear of consequence. Alas we do not live in a perfect world.
My mother taught me about personal safety from a young age; being conscious of your surroundings, not putting yourself in the line of danger, listening to your inner voice. However, a few too many wines, a fun night with trusted friends in a trusted city, added crowd comfort from a big event, and the distraction of a world on the other side of your vortex of a phone, can be enough to momentarily forget these essential life skills passed down.
So it's a time like now that acts as a good reminder and wake up call that, actually, we do live in a major city that has real and increasing potential for serious danger.
My little run-in with the city over the weekend could have been infinitely worse and it's a chilling, sad reminder of lessons that can never be learnt for innocent victims like Jill Meagher, who also simply chose to walk home along an often traveled path under the faux comforts of a busy Friday night around her and CCTV cameras.
I'm sharing this with you as a friendly reminder to never, ever get complacent when it comes to your personal safety or that of others. It's a wake up call that I want you to benefit from too, without you having to lose your phone, credit cards, confidence - or worse.
I do not agree with the advice from police for women to never walk alone. That is neither practical nor helpful. Being conscious of what's around you, assessing your surroundings and situation, and avoiding putting yourself clearly in harm's way, however, are absolutely doable.
Correction: they are essential.
From your resident city girl, stay safe Melbourne. Keep an eye out for you and others.