I AM not used to shopping or watching movies alone. Don't get me wrong, I do go to the office, the nearby mamak restaurant, sundry shop and laundry by myself.
It's just that I hate going to shopping complexes and queuing up to buy the movie ticket alone. I don't like it when I have to push a trolley full of stuff alone in the car park. It leaves me feeling vulnerable.
I was at a loss recently when my brother asked me why I insist on waiting for him just to watch a movie. He said that there was nothing wrong about enjoying my day off alone.
However, developments in the city reminded me why I always prefer to have company. There were news reports about a woman who was robbed with a parang and another who had her finger severed, in shopping mall parking lots.
When I was discussing the women's scary encounters with a friend, I told her that I would only go to shopping malls if there was someone accompanying me. She told me that I was just being paranoid.
I told my female friends that they should not ride the lifts to the car park alone. "Go in with a crowd. Wait if you have to," I told a journalist friend.
It's best to park in front of the lifts, but hey, unless if you are shopping in a deserted mall, it's quite a task to find such spot. The next best thing is to park near the exit so that you can get into the car quickly. At least, you will be in full view of the other people coming out of the lift.
When you enter the car, lock the door. Don't sit in the car for too long before making a move. I don't decorate my car with hanging plush toys, nor do I leave too many items which indicate that they belong to a female driver.
In a Streets interview recently about women drivers' safety in car parks, an individual suggested that a buggy service be provided to ferry women to their cars and for women to keep a baseball bat in the car. Some suggested that there should be reserved parking lots for single women near the lifts. I appreciate the fact that security guards are stationed near car park lifts.
Keep your eyes and ears open, not only for yourselves, but for others who may need help when terror strikes. If the situation doesn't permit, instead of being a hero, alert the building management or authorities immediately.
Shopping complexes should educate their customers on who to call if they see suspicious individuals or suspect that someone is being robbed.
It doesn't hurt to remind our loved ones to be more careful or accompany them whenever we have the time. Please don't make it easy for the criminals. If your sister or girlfriend asks you to accompany her to watch a movie, say yes.