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How to Be Street Smart: Step One, Ask the Internet (Or Perhaps Don’t)

Keep track of your nearest exit! Carry a decoy wallet! Wear sunscreen?

Being book smart is great and all, but being street smart — that is, having the ability to deal with whatever life throws your way — can often be more practical. There’s only one real way to become street smart, though: By throwing yourself into this increasingly precarious world and figuring that shit out.

Sadly, asking the internet for advice about how to be street smart — as the creator of this Reddit thread has done — results in, at best, a mixed bag that often sounds like it comes from people who learned everything they know about rough neighborhoods from reading Batman comics. Here are some of the best/worst tips from the thread (sic, obviously, throughout)…

If You Want to Stay Safe While Traveling, Hang Near Women and Children

“If I’m in an unfamiliar city, I’ll explore every neighbourhood as long as there are women and kids around,” commenter Xiazhu writes. “Most moms don’t hang outside with their kids if the street or area is unsafe. This worked very well throughout Latin America, Europe and Asia.”

Take Care of Your Skin

“Buy a daily moisturizer with sunscreen in it,” commenter H3rta writes, to which commenter Local_Owl responds, “This guy has been through some serious shit.”

Set Traps for Potentially Untrustworthy People

“If you want to know if you can trust somebody you let in your home, leave a five-dollar bill in a place that looks like it was forgotten about and that they would see,” commenter Somatose- writes. “If they take you for five dollars now, they’ll take you for more later.”

Don’t Wear Headphones (Or Stare at Your Phone) in Public

“Earbuds and headphones signal that you’re not aware of your surroundings,” commenter Corey307 writes. “Staring at your phone indicates the same, and makes you an easy target.”

Always Be One Step Ahead

“Count every possible exit in any room you enter,” commenter jayjohann writes, to which commenter ForcupinePucker adds, “I sometimes also scan for anything I could use to defend myself if need be.”

Carry a Decoy Wallet

“Stash maybe a fiver and some coins in it,” commenter redditmunchers writes. “If you get mugged, give them that. They probably won’t want to stay around much longer after you give it to them, and you’ll still have your real wallet with your cards and money inside.”

Walk the Walk

“Walk like you know where you’re going,” commenter Semi921 writes. “If you look like an easy target, chances are that folks around you are thinking the same thing. Most bad areas are infested with poverty-stricken people looking for an easy come-up.”

Listen to Your Gut

“You know that feeling where you didn’t like some teacher because he just seemed ‘off,’ so you said that you didn’t like him and then your parents told you that you can’t say mean things like that?” commenter holddoor writes. “Undo the years of training where your parents taught you to ignore that feeling. Listen to that feeling, and if it says someone is off, then leave the situation.”

Always Call a Lawyer

“Don’t talk to the police without a lawyer,” commenter asoneva writes.

Need to Use to Bathroom? Stop into a Hotel

“Hotel lobbies are great places to use the restroom,” commenter Budra25 writes. “They’re usually clean, safe and hardly ever occupied, since most guests go up to their own room instead of using the public location.”

Dress Like a Tough Guy

“Look like you’ll fight back,” commenter Roland_T_Flakfeizer writes. “Not so much that it looks like you’re issuing a challenge, but just enough so that anyone looking to get the twenty bucks in your wallet will wonder whether it’s worth the effort.”

Only Ask Slow People to Take Your Picture

“If you’re a tourist and want a local to take a picture of you with your phone, either have it be an employee or someone you can outrun,” commenter radpandaparty writes.

Don’t Turn Your Back on Dangerous People

“Never turn your back to someone who you don’t trust or who’s aggressive,” commenter Guy_up_north writes. “YouTube is full of videos of people getting sucker-punched from behind.”

Keep Your Mouth Shut

“Don’t talk if you don’t need to,” commenter hafuhafu writes, to which commenter Mightisr1ght adds, “It’s so hard sometimes but the right thing to say in so many situations is nothing.”

Drive Slow When It Rains

“The most dangerous time to drive is right when it starts raining, cause any oil on the street has mixed with the water, making it slippery, but it hasn’t had enough time to wash away yet,” commenter cosmololgy writes.

Wow! I feel WAY more street smart now!