At the beginning of the year, writer, activist, and possessee of a GREAT head of curls, Ben Faulding, was shopping for conditioner and other grooming sundries when he found himself facing down police officers with drawn firearms.

Fortunately, he lived long enough to tell his story and give me his blessings to submit my own take on it, but let's back up to what happened on the 3rd of this month.

Ordinary night, the new year's just started, and a local curly man decides he's going to do some good ol' fashioned post-gym shopping. He leaves his headphones on, since it should just be a quick in and out for the conditioner he needs, and why kill the K-pop vibes? I'm an f(x) fan myself, so I get it.

As soon as he's made his selection and is on his way to the counter, he's facing down the barrel of a gun

And then another.

Because he didn't want to risk any "sudden movements", those headphones had stayed on—providing what I imagine to be an incredibly dissonant soundtrack to the situation.

Yeah that's...that's not quite the vibe here.

Thinking back to another deadly situation, he follows instructions and clarifies his headphone-handicap as best he can…

Ironically enough, it takes him being handcuffed to feel a little more safe.

And then the truth of why the officers came in so hot to begin with was revealed.

Armed. Robbery. First of all, is an ARMED ROBBER robbing the shelves of a hair store, and not the register up front? Can y'all imagine..


I mean...seriously. I know there's a market for hair products that "fell off the back of a truck", but it's not that deep.

Also? How is the clerk, who Ben let me know is black herself, sleeping at night knowing she didn't even try the fakey 'Can I help you find something?' routine before calling the police? I've worked in a head shop before, selling much less savory materials (yes, even if they're only meant for tobacco use, smoking is bad) and it's pretty easy to not have to go that far with loss prevention. The police force is intended to protect and serve, but that doesn't mean us civilians are meant to be totally inactive in non-lethal situations. Remember that incident when the cops were called because a woman "felt uncomfortable" with a man walking near her? Remember that Reddit thread where several police officers reported that they'd be contacted because people were asking them to PERFORM HITS on "undesireable", re: black, individuals in the neighborhoods of some particularly nasty pieces of work? I do. I can't stop thinking about them actually.

Whatever her reasoning, apparently, his gym bag knocked some products off the shelf, which he didn't hear, and that was enough to make her feel like the merch was being threatened. And whether it was her, or police dispatch that used the term 'armed robbery' why report the issue as something it wasn't?

He's already expected the comments of course. 'Why were you wearing headphones, don't you know it's important to be aware of your surroundings at all times, I'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for you darn millenials…and your avocado toast.' His counter to that is as humble as it is effective.

Now listen, y'all. I'm a clumsy woman.

I like to say I have all the reflexes and grace of a lobotomized cat. And while I don't typically have a gym bag on me as I shop, it's not unusual that I have a basket of goods, or my laptop bag, or my 50" hips on me to swing into things and cause all manner of gravity-based havoc. I've always been afraid to use noise cancelling headphones in public, not so much because I just LOVE hearing catcalls and racial epithets as I'm walking around, but because I'm scared that if something DID happen, all my poor mom would hear was 'Well why was she wearing headphones?'. I keep the volume low and do the one bud in, one bud out thing if I'm shopping, but sometimes, darn it, you NEED to block the world out for your own sanity. I know that when my twist out is out, my curly hair absolutely obscures my headphones just like it does my earrings. But that should hardly be an executable offense.

For those of you that still aren't convinced, I have to ask this.

Are you ACTUALLY committed to being at 100% attention at all times, for the rest of your life? Outside, at work, at home, as you bathe, as you eat, as you try to sleep? Newsflash, that's actually called 'hypervigilance', and it's a symptom of serious trauma. As much as you can attempt to hedge your bets and be cautious, things happen. I've installed anti-slip tracks on my tub, secured my bathroom rug to the floor, and I wash my feet with one hand FIRMLY on the grip in the tub. Did that prevent me from slipping on my moisturized soles, and breaking a toe because I was daydreaming about a good looking Cajun dude? Nope. Caution is great, but believing you can ever have ultimate control is to put your faith into an illusion.

The police officers in this case were fed bad information that lead them to come in to what they thought was an escalated situation, so I can't fault them for their initial response. But looking at how WRONG this whole thing could have gone down due in part to big hair and big music combining...I shiver. And after my own fashion, I pray.

Do we ever know when 'just one of those days' is going to be our last?

You can read more about the incident in Ben's own words at The Washington Post, and follow him for more justice and nerdery on Twitter , where you can also read the full version of his thread detailing that night.

Curlies, have you ever had any near misses because your headphones were hiding in your hair? Let us know in the comments!