When I lived alone in San Francisco, there were a few things that made me feel safer at home at night: I kept a phone right next to my bed, I was friendly with a few neighbors — and I slept with a hammer under my mattress. Of course, this meant I could never find my hammer when I needed it for actual hammering...
For years, I'd slept with a picnic knife under my mattress, the kind that has a hard plastic sheath (perfect for preventing sleep-stabbing). I happened to show it to a guest, who gently pointed out that the thing was broken and the sheath was permanently attached. It was still good for poking, but nothing more. I replaced the knife with the hammer my grandpa gave me when I was little. I don't remember him, as I was very young when he passed away, but how can you not love a man who gives a 2-year-old girl a hammer?!
I stuck the head of the hammer between my mattress and box spring, leaving the wooden handle sticking out a bit for easy grabbing. It was undetectable when the bed was made, but I knew it was there, at least at night. During the day, I'd occasionally find myself searching for my hammer, panicked that I'd lost it again.
The thought of a break-in is a truly terrible one, and so far I've been lucky enough not to experience one (except for a thwarted attempt in my early teens). I never want to live for The Worst Case Scenario, but I don't want to be naive, either. Sleeping with a hammer close at hand made me feel a little safer, a little less vulnerable. If nothing else, surely I was protected by my grandpa's ghost, right? What makes you feel safe at night?
(Image: Tess Wilson)