WT: Basically, I did my "don't look at the dangerous animal and you won't enrage them," routine. I fortunately was very close to the larger, more populated path at that point, and I figured if he was doing something he didn't want to be caught at - or was trying to show women something he wanted to be caught at - if I pretended not to see him he would leave me alone. The one time I got hit by a stranger it was because I caught two teenaged guys doing something they shouldn't. More on that later.
CB: You do have a point: there's always danger in the big city. Of course, there's danger everywhere. Suburbs have rampant economic, drug and drinking problems, and the random violence that go with them. Plus, if you're out in the country, no one can hear you scream...
CD: No thank you. As angry and scared as I get sometimes, I can't wrap my mind around carrying a weapon. It just seems too likely to escalate things, or be turned against me.
I did study Goju karate and self-defense for several years, which has made me feel slightly more competent when it comes to looking out for myself. However, given my propensity to freeze like a deer in headlights in the face of strong danger, I find it most practical for me to practice the flight response rather than the fight response. As any good martial artist will tell you, the best self-defense is avoiding a fight as much as possible. Plus, I'm pretty much a pacifist.
Of course, there was the one time I got hit by the teenagers cited above. Punched right in the jaw where I'd just had oral surgery, when I discovered them defacing a subway hallway. I surprised my self by swinging up one of the very heavy suitcases I was holding and smacking the attacker upside the head. When he ran away, I yelled up the stairs to his compatriot (who had scampered up at my arrival), "Yo! Your boy just hit me - and if I see him again, I'm gonna kill 'im!"
I had no idea I was so ghetto.