Versiti - S2: Episode 6: Sports...Unites, Empowers, Ignites the Disadvantaged | Stand Out From the Inside Podcast Series | Versiti

The Journey of Belief From Adversity

This podcast episode of “Stand Out from the Inside” features Simon Osamah, born with the sickle cell trait within a mixed race family. He served for the English police, which led him to a career fighting organized crime and terrorism in the US. Though he never met his father, the adversity caused him to mentor other young men.

Podcast Specific Hashtags:

#believeinyourself #adversity #hope #inclusion #wellbeing #selflove #blooddonations #blackexellance #bloodmatters #blooddonation #donateblood #savelife

Guest(s): Simon Osamah

Social Media Handles:

Instagram: @simonosamoh
Twitter: @simonosamoh

About Our Host:

Edgar Daggett born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. He currently serves as the Specialty Programs Marketing Associate at Versiti Blood Centers, where he focuses on direct involvement and campaign management on specialty products and diverse groups. Past family experience inspired him to begin his journey at Versiti in 2020. He knew that the need for diverse units was growing year to year, and because of his personal history, he decided to make the change – and help make a change.

Through the Stand Out From the Inside podcast, he hopes to empower new and bright individuals in his community and beyond to spread the word on the need for diverse blood products through donation and blood drives.

“I hope you all enjoy the Stand Out from the Inside podcast presented by Versiti, where we talk about the needs of the community and ways we can become stronger!”

About - Podcast Show Series

STAND OUT FROM THE INSIDE presented by Versiti is a podcast where—we recognize community with light, uniqueness, and identity. Edgar Daggett will talk with individuals to celebrate ethnicity and blood type — it is part of our survival. Because within our communities, we have attributes that we give and serve in our community. This is a fresh podcast that will give voice to diversity and inspiration. We will promote strength, trust, caring, inclusivity, and positivity. And will go deep on the lifesaving impact of blood donation. How do you Stand Out from the Inside?

Download Transcript  

EDGAR: Welcome back to another Stand Out from the Inside podcast presented by Versiti. My name is Edgar Daggett and I'm once again your host. Super excited to bring you guys another episode. And going through Season Eight we've had so many amazing guests, so many amazing experiences, stories that have been told so far, and we have another one for you.

This genuine person... It took a while a lot of determination and I think that's gonna be one of the key words for today. Going back and forth, we've been talking for this for about months and it's finally here. Going back and forth, things were happening and we got it for you.

We pushed through and we have this amazing guest because this story is one that you can't miss, and you have to hear it. So, to not only welcome to the show, we have Simon Osamah here to talk to you all about his life, his story, and what he's doing to this day. Simon, welcome to the Stand Out from the Inside podcast. How are you?

[00:01:00] SIMON: Edgar, yeah, real honor and a privilege to be here. And you are right, you persevered for this interview and this conversation. So I'm really excited to share part of my life with your listeners.

[00:01:11] EDGAR: And it took a while. You know, we've been talking, what, three months, four months?

It's like, alright, we're getting you on the show. You know, a little bit on my end; you know, a little bit on your end. But it was like, alright, we finally got it down and we're here to give it a good podcast.

[00:01:23] SIMON: Yeah. It's that lesson in life. You do not have to be the best, but you've gotta keep persevering. You gotta finish the race you got... and you finished.

You didn't let me down. You kept talking to me.

[00:01:33] EDGAR: Oh, no!

[00:01:34] SIMON: So let's, yeah. I'm excited for this.

[00:01:36] EDGAR: I won't let you down. I won't let the viewers, the listeners, down. No, we're here, man. So how's it going? What's new?

[00:01:42] SIMON: Yeah, really good. Well, with so much stuff has been going on lately. I mean, part of my background will come out, but ... I sort of... I'm a podcaster, entrepreneur, author. One of my passions is around keeping people safe.

And America, where we are now, has been so much acts of violence lately. That's where a lot of my time and attention has been — is training programs to help keep people safe. It's a real sort of passion that I have. So yeah, really, really busy right now.

[00:02:09] EDGAR: No, super excited for everybody to be here. So, just to get everybody started about who is Simon? Where do you come from? You know, who is it? Let's give a little background for all the viewers.

[00:02:21] SIMON: Yeah, that's a lot. My is my background in life, it confuses people and sometimes it confuses myself, if I'm honest. There was too much stuff. I'm like 45 and had like four or five different reinventions to myself.

But a little bit for listeners. So I'm British living in America. I guess I'm an American and I became an American citizen in April, and the judge said to me, Simon, don't let anyone say to you any different. You are none other than an American, but I'll always be British American. That's where I spent 33 years of my life.

So, but very proud moment for me to become an American citizen. America's been really, really good to me, so I'm very blessed to be here. But, grew up in a town west of London; Nigerian father, a white English mother. So sort of raised in a mixed raced family in the seventies. Some good conversation around that for sure.

And go about my take of mixed race families living in England. And then at 19, which is very different culture to here than in the US — I actually joined law enforcement, became a detective by the time I was, I think I was 22 or 23. And then sort of spent the rest of my time... served 14 years in police department in England focusing on organized crime and terrorism.

So I've done a lot of crazy stuff, a lot of different things. And then when I emigrated here to America. People always ask what brings a Brit to America? My wife is American, so I now live in the Midwest in Minnesota. I was head of counter-terrorism at Mall of America, and some people may know that as the largest retail and entertainment complex in the US. It's like 42 million visitors a year go to that building. It's around 7 million square feet to put it into context and... podcaster, entrepreneur, I've done so many different things. But that's my life in a nutshell.

[00:04:08] EDGAR: No, definitely. So you lived in London. How was that? How was life in London compared to life here in the United States?

[00:04:15] SIMON: Well, it's interesting because I would say just taking life in general; life in the UK I believe is actually quite stressful. You're always running from one thing to the next. You know, work life, there's little balance, and I would say the difference between the UK and the US is that US is that— and I can talk about where I am here in the Midwest, but the Midwest is a bit more relaxed in nature.

And the UK is a bit sort of hectic. But, my upbringing was very humble. I mean, I don't, didn't have the luxuries that I have now. The nice car, nice house; you know, I was raised by a single parent. My mum and father were actually — well, I don't, they divorced before I was born, but they had separated before I was even born.

So, never met my father. Caused a lot of validation issues and stuff like that;, grew up in very humble background. And I was most often the kid where you would look at other people's lives thinking, "well, I want that, I want a father in my life." My mom never remarried. My mom couldn't afford school trips and various different things because she was a single parent with three kids.

So, yeah... where I started, I guess that's part of my journey... where I started to where I am now. It really does show if you apply hard work and effort, you really can achieve amazing, amazing things. My upbringing, Edgar, I shouldn't be sat in the house or doing the things that I am now. But, working through that adversity has proven the universe wrong, you know?

[00:05:49] EDGAR: No, definitely. And it's about that determination, that perseverance; like, keep going, no matter where you come from. Now, are your siblings here in the US, or are they still in London as well as your mother?

[00:06:01] SIMON: No. So actually I don't have any of my immediate family here. So my mom used to foster to earn money. And I've got two younger— I need to give this for context, I've got two younger brothers that we fostered and then adopted. So I've got two older sisters, two younger brothers, and everyone is in the UK.
So it's just me here in the US with my wife's family, which, you know, I would say... as guys we can be... we don't necessarily give away all of who we are as men, do we? We can be a bit more reserved.

[00:06:31] EDGAR: Mm-hmm.

[00:06:32] SIMON: So, you know, I've got a lot of good sort of friends that I've sort of made here and stuff, but yeah, I've got no immediate family here.

[00:06:38] EDGAR: No, definitely. So I wanna touch a little bit on, you said your mother, London your father, Nigerian. How was that life as living in a multicultural family? How was that? Did that play any role in London specifically, and how does that different to now here being in the Midwest?

[00:06:56] SIMON: Yeah, and that's a great question. So I don't mind giving my age away because I've still got my jet black hair here.

[00:07:04] EDGAR: Still look good!

[00:07:05] SIMON: Yeah. So I was born in '78. So to put into context, my mom is white, raising three black children in a time when it wasn't really the done thing for a woman to marry a sort of black man and then add the dynamic in there.

But she was also a single parent. So my poor mother had a lot of adversity and stuff going on there. But interestingly, although we were very humble and we didn't have much money — we lived in sort of social housing — but the area that we lived in is one of the most affluent parts of England: a town called Wokingham. Very affluent part of the country.

And so... and it's a shame, I haven't got my picture here. Should have got this to show you on the video. My high school, if you like, there's around 130 kids in my year. And then when you look at the year photo, I'm the only Black kid in that entire year. The only Black kid out of 130 kids.

However, I can't really recall any time when I was at school that I suffered any type of racial abuse or was considered different from my friends. I was just Simon and my friends were just my friends. I did suffer racism outside of school. But if you take 129 other kids in my year, there was nothing that gave me any hint or suggestion that I was treated any differently other than just being Simon and other than the fact that I've got black skin; sometimes I would even forget that I was Black, Edgar. So it's really weird and unique.

But yeah, I didn't... My journey in school, I didn't feel any different. But like I said, there were times when I suffered racism for sure. But most of the time, I mean, England is quite a multicultural society. Great Britain has been built on colonization. I think to answer second part of your question, I think the difference between the US and the UK, is most probably the integration of different ethnicities into culture.

You know, when people say you're from England and they say fish and chips is the number one food in England, that's actually a myth. The number one food in England is actually Indian food. And on a Friday and Saturday night after you've been to a bar for a few drinks, it's an Indian restaurant where you go and break bread and you talk to people.

I think. Now living in— I'll give some context for people— now living in America for coming up to 11 years, I think the difference is how you integrate those different ethnicities. In England, I think there's just because of a colonization and how Great Britain was built there's more of a strong inclusion that people feel.

And of course there's racism. There's always racism everywhere. I don't want your listeners to feel like I'm saying that England doesn't have racism. No, that's not the case. But I just feel it is different. Whereas in America, we have more labels. Sometimes when I'll go to the hospital to doctors and they ask me to fill in the form for my ethnicity and they'll say, "Oh, you've not ticked the box," you know, and wanting me to tick African American. It's like, "Well, I'm not African. And I'm not American, so I'm not any of these." But I think in America there's a bit more of trying to push people into labels. And some of those labels can be sort of segregating, you know?

[00:10:34] EDGAR: No, that's interesting. Oh, and I didn't know about the Indian food being the most popular in London.

[00:10:39] SIMON: Yeah.

[00:10:39] EDGAR: Is it due to the influences, like maybe in the past? The amount of people that came through? Like what made Indian food the most popular?

[00:10:48] SIMON: Yeah, Yeah. I think the above that you just said, I think it's the fact that India was a country colonized by Great Britain.

There's a very, very strong, large Indian population as there are sort of Caribbeans sort of — Barbadians and stuff in the UK. I think part of those people who just brought their cultures into a country and they've become part of what being British is all about. I think it's like a lot of things being, you know, me sat here as a Black man, being British isn't about being white.

Being British is sort of... it's almost like a way of life. Respect for the Queen, respect for others. Having like inclusion for all people. It doesn't matter what color you are. Being British is about trying to strive for the common good. And we've gone through a lot of wars and colonized other countries which might not necessarily be that grateful for Great Britain's coming in, but being British is a way of life.
It's bigger than an ethnicity and a color.

[00:11:51] EDGAR: No, definitely. And I completely agree and I think that should play a role in all places. You know, an ethnicity, a color doesn't determine what the country is. It's just people; the what's inside. The culture. Color shouldn't be like, Okay, London: it's white.

No, it shouldn't be like that. That should be everywhere in the world. Yeah. And that's what we appreciate from a lot of the countries over there.
So, yeah.

[00:12:14] SIMON: And it's funny, being... since moving here, my wife is white, so my son's of very sort of mixed race, lighter skin.

[00:12:20] EDGAR: Okay.

[00:12:21] SIMON: You know, I've had people here in the US say what's it like being in a multicultural relationship?
I'm like, What do you mean? Like, what's it like? And I'm like... well, I'm just married to my wife. Right? It's not a multicultural relationship.

[00:12:33] EDGAR: Normal, yeah.

[00:12:34] SIMON: Yeah. But basically the blending of the two colors. But we're not two colors, we're two people from different backgrounds, sort of married together.

So that's intrigued me when Americans say, what's it like being in multicultural relationship? Like there should with some type of difference just because your skin color is a different tone.

[00:12:53] EDGAR: No, a hundred percent agree. And myself, I come from — both of my parents are Hispanic, but my dad's white and my mom's Black.

And it's like complete, you know, just the same. We're living in, it's just like culture brings us together. That's the only thing where like, maybe it blends in or you get a little bit of one side or a little bit of the other. But other than that, I have multiple friends around the same multicultural race multicultural ethnic ethnicity in the families as well. Where it's the same. It's just, you know, a blend of different cultures that you bring together in a whole.

That's awesome.

[00:13:27] SIMON: Yeah. And, and before we move on, something I was gonna tell you one quick story as well. Funny from last year. So we went to a garden center here where I live in the Midwest. I dunno if you'd call it, maybe you might call it nursery in America. There's a place where you go and buy plants.

[00:13:39] EDGAR: Okay.

[00:13:39] SIMON: I've been here so long, I get confused between with different names. But my youngest son at the time, he's now nine, he was eight at a time. We went to his garden center looking for some plants, and there was around 300 people there because there was music and they had this sort of festival going on.

And my son said to me, he said, Dad, he said, You're the only Black person here. You've noticed? And I looked around and he was right, but I didn't even notice just because how I've lived my life. I've totally removed color. My eight year old noticed that I was the only Black person there.

I didn't. And I felt no different. Just a funny story.

[00:14:14] EDGAR: No, no. And you just walk in multiple places. Like I go areas and I just walk. It's like normal and I don't see it anyway. I don't get treated any other way. And it's just like how sometimes some of us are like, it completely just goes over our heads.

[00:14:30] SIMON: Yeah.

[00:14:30] EDGAR: While there's others that that's the first thing they look at. They're like, Oh, I'm the only one. Should I be here? Yes.

[00:14:36] SIMON: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That means you should be there.

[00:14:41] EDGAR: So what brings you— So America, okay, what brought you to the States?

[00:14:45] SIMON: Yeah, so my wife is American. So I met my wife in 2003 in Australia.
So she was an American study in Australia. At that time I had two good friends that were both living in Australia. It's the old fashioned we met in an Irish pub and in the rest is history.

[00:15:02] EDGAR: Okay.

[00:15:02] SIMON: So she lived in England for five years after we got married. Then I knew at some point she'd want to come back to the Midwest when sort of kids and stuff were born.

So that's what really took me here. And then I spent most of my time in the police doing organized crime investigations. And then I was thinking, well, when I move to America, what does that look like? And I used to do... I used to do phone type investigations, surveillance, covert entries when you go into people's houses, planting listening devices, getting into their cars. I did these crazy things like where does someone with my skill set go?

It's very unique. And I got to know a woman that worked in the FBI and she said, Well, have you ever considered Mall of America? They sort of might be looking for someone with your skills. And interestingly now one my friends was transitioning out of the role of being head of counter-terrorism.

And then I applied and a sort of the skill set was a sort of fit. And then that sort of took me into a sort of security realm of sort of safety and security. So I had background in law enforcement and then it added sort of physical security at one of the largest pieces of infrastructure, as I said, in the Midwest, if not in the country.

[00:16:08] EDGAR: Right. And you started that police in London first?

[00:16:13] SIMON: Yes. So I was 19 when I joined, 33 when I left. And then in charge of counter-terrorism at Mall of America when I first moved here.

[00:16:23] EDGAR: And what got you interested in joining the police force?

[00:16:26] SIMON: You know, it is really, really weird.

I dunno if there's a single thought process or decision that made me join. I know when I was like 13, 14, you know, you watch cop shows on TV and you think, that's really fun. But for whatever reason I must have kept that interest going. And like I said, different here in the US; I joined the police when I was 19, but I applied when I was 18. And I was working in a residential care home for adults with learning disabilities, down syndrome, sort of mental disabilities; and we had like an open house one time and this visitor came and it was someone that worked — very senior officer — working for the police. And he was talking to me saying, you know, what is it you wanna sort of do with your life?

Is this it? And I said, No, I've actually applied for the police force. And he said to me, Oh which police force you applied for? I said, Thames Valley. And he said, Well I work for Thames Valley as a senior officer. He said, My office is next door to recruitment. I'll go and find where your application is.

And then the following day, he must have gone in that office and said, Hey, I've met this guy. He must be good. Because within three days I had a letter saying, Come in for your police testing. And sort of went through the process from there. So it was always... I think it was part of my journey to be the police.

And definitely... it gave me so much Edgar if I'm truly honest. It gave me a lot of skills, lot of communication that I still rely on to this day and particularly working under pressure in highly pressured situations.

[00:17:57] EDGAR: Yeah, no. And that's awesome that you met somebody that got you out the door. So what kept you going? You can obviously stop. What made you keep going? Was it the... just learning the skills? Was it the growth opportunity? Was it people that made you go up there? What made you keep going?

[00:18:15] SIMON: Yeah, that's a great question. So when I when I first started, I was like 19.

And I used to do property developing on the side. I've been in around property for 20 years. I told you I'm very weird. You can't work me out. "Will the real Simon Osamah please stand up?" Is one of those. So I did sort of property developing, and there was times when I started as a young 19 year old and police force was much higher than me.

And I think in time that gap started to get shortened. And I started to maybe outgrow the position in the police. However, one thing that I didn't have was a father figure in my life. And I never really had a sort of male role model because my mom never remarried. And that was something that I think I'd always struggled with.

And I think to answer your question of what kept me going? There was a time before I became a detective, so I was about 23 when I became a detective — 22, 23. Before I applied I'd actually applied to go on a firearms team and the chief of police for my area had to sign off on the application. And he wasn't there that day.

And then a detective, chief superintendent, a gentleman called Melvin Young; he was the most senior officer at the station at the time. So application went on, fell on his desk, and he called me up— I wasn't at work, I don't believe. I think I was somewhere outside the station. He called me and said, You know, I've got your application, I'm going to sign it, but can you come and see me first?

And I sort of said, Well, you know, with respect, sir, I'm not in the office, but yes, I'll come in and see you; and a senior ranking officer says "come and see them," you do. And I sort of went to see him and said, I've got your application for the firearms team. More than happy to approve it and sign it off.

He said, However, he said, I think you'd be better as a detective. At that point I'd had a sort of an attachment, if you like, a secondment. The detective team had seen my work, and he went on to really talk about the next 10, 15 minutes everything that he saw in me as to why I'd make a good detective.

And I remember I left that meeting: I thought, Oh wow. That was really good.

[00:20:26] EDGAR: Mm-hmm.

[00:20:26] SIMON: And then about a week later, my inspector came to me and said, Simon, I've been told that you haven't applied to become a detective. And the deadline closes today. Why haven't you applied? And I gave it the old with respect, sir, when ever anyone starts a sentence with "with respect" they're about to hit you with something. I said, Well, with respect, I said, I don't know if I really wanna be a detective.

I wanna go the firearms route. And then what he said to me was really revealing he said, Simon, he said, You didn't understand a conversation, did you? I said, No clearly I didn't sir with respect. And he said, Simon, he wasn't asking you to apply.

He was telling you to apply. And then that there... went back to my computer, filled an application.

[00:21:10] EDGAR: Yeah.

[00:21:11] SIMON: And it was a really pivotal moment for me. So, like I said, I was a young man at the time, like 23 years old. And it was a really pivotal moment for me, because never having a male figure in my life, that was the first time — and I get goosebumps telling the story now — that was the first time that someone had seen something in me that I didn't see in myself. And I think it was that that then kept me going. It was that that then shaped my career. And I think I've been awarded accommodations of police work I think on eight occasions in my 14 years, which is almost unheard of.

But it was that that kept me going to try and see things in these people that you come into contact with as a detective that they don't see themselves, to help them ultimately try and change their lives. I think that was the moment that kept me going. I can only talk for myself being a young man, but I think we all need someone like that.

We all need someone in our life that sees something in us that we don't see, because when we suffer adversity, when we become challenged, it's really good to draw on that knowing that we do have the reserve to sort of push through that adversity and achieve whatever goal of job productivity you truly have in life.

There's no short answer from me, Edgar. Are you learning that?

[00:22:25] EDGAR: No, no. We're good. No, that's an incredible answer. And it's great that you found a person that was able to take you to the next level. Cause maybe you wouldn't have applied, maybe if they didn't come up to you, where would your journey have taken you?

You know? If you didn't apply.

[00:22:40] SIMON: Yeah.

[00:22:41] EDGAR: And you weren't going to apply until they revised the question. Like, No, I'm telling you now you should go apply.

[00:22:46] SIMON: Yeah. That moment. And it's funny because sometimes I think you've gotta go in fear. When people say I want to leave a six figure salary and go and become an entrepreneur. Want to go and try a different role.

I'm not happy where I am. What I've often said to myself is go in fear, because it's that fear that's gonna drive you to move forward. So if ever you've got a hard objective or something that you don't wanna do, go in fear. You're not a good public speaker? Find some speaking arrangements.

Go in fear because it's that fear that's gonna push you and drive you through.

[00:23:21] EDGAR: Definitely. And do you still keep in touch with Melvin?

[00:23:24] SIMON: No. You know what? I don't actually. I've lost contact, but I keep thinking I should try and work out where he is because I've never really told him how significant that moment was.

I talk about it very frequently, but I've never tracked him down. I should do to try and say, that was a real turning point for me in my life. And here's interesting thing about that as well, Edgar. I'll tell people listening, When you offer praise, when you bless people, when you help people that you don't know... he doesn't even know how important that conversation was.

In my mind...

[00:23:56] EDGAR: Yeah.

[00:23:56] SIMON: It changed the projection of my entire life from him saying how I see these things in you, that I don't believe you see in yourself. So it's a reason why we should all share that with others when we do see something. And I may as well challenge the listeners to, hey, go to someone close to you and say... tell them something that you don't believe that they see in themselves.

[00:24:16] EDGAR: Definitely. And to thank the others as well. No, that's an awesome story. So you came to America. All right? And then how long were you... you said you were in talks with the FBI. How did that go?

[00:24:29] SIMON: Well, yeah, so I was at Mall of America for just sort of three years. And when I've always been...

I've always been very entrepreneurial. So I started consulting when I was just at Mall of America, helping organizations, non-profits primarily. 'Cause that's where my big heart and passion is. But I help for-profits around safety and security. So over the sort of next few years, I built up a team of security and safety consultants that support organizations about how to stay safe and secure.

In today's world we have the sort of real threat of active violence, but there's also a lot of day to day things that companies and organizations have to deal with — sort of where there's humans there's human brokenness. How do we assess threats? How do we identify what our plan is and how do we execute that plan to make sure people are safe?

So I created Kingswood Security Consulting in around 2014 to really help organizations and people stay safe and secure. Really continuing on that sort of passion that I have for making sure that our communities are safer.

[00:25:31] EDGAR: Now, security for people is that just walking down the street, you know? You're walking... in case you get attacked.
What kind of a personal security are we talking about?

[00:25:41] SIMON: Yeah, so a lot of that is around situational awareness. You know, if we take the run, hide, fight as an example that the government uses for active shooters. So there are still some people who dunno what run hide means. But if we have an active violence, most often active shooter, the government tell you to run, hide and fight. Most often people believe that this is an order to follow.

But I'm doing this interview to you in a room with one door in front of me. If an active assailant comes in, I can't run, I can't fight— I can't hide, sorry. My only option is to really fight an assailant. So it's really breaking down situational awareness in and around the lines. You know, you get those people that are on their phones, it's like two o'clock in the morning and are walking down the street with their phone, have "victim" stamped on their heads.

It is helping people educate that the world is a scary place, yes. But we're gonna train there, or we're not gonna live there. We're gonna train there, but we're not gonna live there. We're gonna give you some simple tools to stay safe and secure. Like my two sons example, nine and 11. Even if someone that knows them approaches them and says, Your dad has said to come with us. Your dad's been in an accident. Can you come? You've gotta come with me. We're going to the hospital. My sons know they still need to verify that information first before they get in the car, even with someone that they know.

Because statistically, most of those people are gonna cause them harm, are gonna be people that they know. So we don't necessarily do that in a harsh way, but it's giving people basic templates that if you can follow, my sons can do that to stay safe. Well, yeah. Thank you Edgar, saying that my dad's in an accident and to come with you. Before I do that, I need to ring my mum or ring someone else and just have a conversation with them.

So, I'm giving them these templates for them to be safe so they don't... doesn't cause any harm or upset or rudeness to the person, but they know there's things they've got to do to keep themselves safe. And then when they become part of your daily life, it becomes very easy to see the world differently.

As an example, when you go to a restaurant, most people don't want to sit next to the kitchen because it's loud and it's noisy.

[00:27:59] EDGAR: Right.

[00:27:59] SIMON: But for an active violence, do you know why you wanna sit next to the kitchen Edgar? If there's gonna be an active violence.

[00:28:07] EDGAR: Is there more exitways in the back?

[00:28:09] SIMON: Yes, there's more exitways at the back. So rather than saying, I want this nice seat at the front here. Very, very romantic. Yeah, I do that for my wife, not very often. Cause I'm always saying, no I want that chair, you know.

[00:28:20] EDGAR: Farthest table.

[00:28:21] SIMON: Yeah. Simple things. I never let the hostess sit me in a restaurant. I will look, I'll assess the restaurant and say, Can I sit there?

And if she says no, I say that's my second choice. And I wanna be close to the kitchen because the kitchen always has an exit. So if something happens, I can grab my wife and then we can leave. And again, it doesn't make a big deal. I don't argue with the hostess as to why I need to do it. I just say, Thank you for offering this seats here, but would you mind if we went and sat in those two chairs? She doesn't even know why I'm doing it. But again, it's these templates that I've laid down in my life from an early age, but you do in consistency... with consistency, then keep me and other people safe. So it's just educating people around how to live your life with your eyes more wide open.

Does that make sense?

[00:29:09] EDGAR: Yeah, no. That's incredible. And you know, it's something that— I worked in the past in restaurants and you're right. Those seats are never taken; at least in our restaurants, they're the seats that no one wants. We'll see... and people are getting right back up and leaving. But it's that mindset that... even myself, I never think about it. I'm like, okay, sounds good. Here.

It's perfectly fine.

[00:29:31] SIMON: Yeah.

[00:29:31] EDGAR: And it makes a hundred percent they're in... it makes total sense. So do you never sit by the windows in the front? Or is that different?

I gotta ask.

[00:29:40] SIMON: Well, I'll tell you one thing. I never sit with my back to the door, that's for sure. I wanna see every person that comes in.

So it doesn't matter if you believe in faith, if you believe in a higher power, whatever you believe. Something created us. Something created humans. And wherever you believe in God, a higher power, or universe; what created us, gave us emotions and feelings. And when the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, when your mouth gets all clammy, when when your hands get hot and sweaty, when hairs on your forearm get raised, my body is communicating something to me. What I also train people to do is acknowledge those emotions and feelings and not say, Am I being biased? Am I being prejudiced?

Just say, whoever created me, they're trying to communicate someone to me. What is it that I'm trying to be communicated with? And then take positive action. One of the things that we often do and I relate this as to where to sit and don't have your back to the door, is that we will often feel that we're judging someone or we're being rude, we're inappropriate, but someone gave us these emotions and feelings.

So it's really important that when your body is communicating potential harm to you, but you acknowledge it, just reflect and say, What does this mean? What's being said to me right now? And maybe it's, I need to face the door or someone's walked in that I feel uncomfortable with and we're going to leave. Again there's no rudeness, but, you know, a situation is developing. I don't feel right. We're just gonna leave. And we're gonna go to another restaurant. Those are the type of things that keep you safe. Rather than saying, Oh no, now I'm getting these emotions and feelings. But you're just dismissing it.

Or that person's not harm. I'll give you an example I've got. So during COVID a couple of years ago, I went to a car place. So I think I needed something for my license plate. And I walked in there and behind me in the line, in the queue, was a young guy, most probably 20, 21, and he was open carrying. So he had his firearm visible, which in Minnesota, where I am, you can do that.

And just something about me said this just does not feel right. He was stood behind me and it just... he just didn't fit with the environment. So I didn't dismiss it and say, Okay, no, he's not gonna be an active shooter. He's not gonna do anything bad. Am I judging the person? All I did was I stepped outside of the queue and on that time, I decided to stand behind him.

[00:32:12] EDGAR: Okay.

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