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Rambling Anna: Vermillion isn’t dangerous at night

In one of my classes, we got off on a tangent about how males see things differently than females. For instance, walking to your car in a deserted parking lot after dark in Vermillion is a lot scarier for women than it is men.

I was the only one in class who didn’t agree.

About a week ago, a series of strange, alcohol-fueled events found me standing at the intersection of Plum and Cherry streets alone at 3:30 a.m. I stood there for a moment and surveyed my surroundings. I was an unarmed female with a dead cell phone in a city full of potential rapists, muggers and heavily armed criminals.

Who are we kidding — it’s Vermillion. Maybe it’s just me and maybe I’m naive, but I always feel completely and utterly safe. I have a knife and pepper spray, but I constantly forget them and still don’t feel threatened. When you’re comfortable with your surroundings, you’re more likely to feel at peace, but I’m no idiot. I make sure to look around when I’m walking in the dark, and I’ve seen enough horror movies to listen for the faint sound of approaching footsteps.

As a senior, I just feel like I’ve learned that you are less likely to get mugged in a college town, because it’s common knowledge that we’re all broke – or really, really poor.

Still, one of my roommates recently told me a story about one of her waitress friends in Yankton who got jumped and beat up there. While that’s scary, I still felt perfectly and utterly safe walking through Vermillion at 4 a.m. last week. As I passed the hulking bushes on Plum Street, I thought about all the silent killers they could hide and felt no fear. The streetlights gave me no particular peace. The soft rustle of the leaves on the pavement had no effect on me.

I spent a summer in Bakersfield, Calif., and that was a whole different story, but here in South Dakota, I just feel like the odds of me knowing the person trying to steal my car are way too high. I probably know their aunt and their older brother’s best friend’s uncle probably played baseball in high school with my mom’s boyfriend. The world is too small for me to feel threatened here.

And I think that’s a great thing.