Lynda Waddington of the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Gazette is lucky to be alive after her recent encounter with a concealed handgun carrier.

No, he didn’t draw or even touch his firearm, or even say anything to her. For that matter, she didn’t even see so much as a gun or a holster, so we aren’t even sure they exist.

She merely saw a bulge in a random man’s jacket that might be a gun, and worked herself into a hysterical fit:

 There’s a mantra quickly repeating in my head: “Please have a badge. Please have a badge. Please have a badge.” It’s a steady heartbeat as I begin a conversation with a shop clerk and reposition myself so I can peer over her shoulder.

I’ve already seen the bulge in his jacket, and it’s clear from the size and shape that he has a holstered gun. Now my eyes are quickly scanning, hoping to find a law enforcement badge clipped to his belt.

I’m in a local bookstore and there’s a sticker near the door asking patrons not to carry weapons on the premises. My two children scurried off the moment we entered, each in search of their own treasures.

The man with the weapon is as interested with the bookstore patrons as he is with the books on display. I’ve watched him watch others. The way he tracks them is unnerving.

I do not know this man, have no knowledge of his profession, personality or character. I am unaware of his mental state, of why he feels the need to carry a weapon into a bookstore. Frankly, I’m not that interested in his reasons right now. My mind is too busy filtering through the various scenarios that could be taking place. They flick before me like movie trailers, and I watch, casting some aside and mentally marking others for further consideration.

There’s no badge — at least not one I can see. And my inspection of him has not gone unnoticed. I rotate my handbag so that more of it rests toward the front of my body and gently pat it. It’s a tell by women who are packing heat in their purse. Many do it without thinking, a subtle check of hard steel through the leather. My touch is greeted by the bristles on my hairbrush, but no one else knows that.

The man recognizes the gesture, his eyes briefly flicking to my own before he moves past us in the aisle.

I still don’t know him, and the movie trailers increase. He could be the stalker, searching for his mark. He could be contemplating a robbery, or seeking someone to abduct. He could be an off-duty police officer, or even one that is undercover. He could be paranoid, thinking the world is out to get him or knowing someone truly is. He could be a fugitive, a drug dealer, a rapist or the owner of a sporting goods store…

Mrs. Waddington then grabbed her children and fled the store, her fantasies having overwhelmed her rationality.

This is quite the revealing article, isn’t it? Waddington didn’t even see a gun, she just saw a “bulge” that could have been a pair of gloves or a checkbook and let her imagination run wild in some perverse paranoid fantasy.

It seems to me that she should switch to decaf… as a start.

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