I’d do it again


It was raining. Not a drenching downpour, more of an annoying, unrelenting shower. The parking lot was full, but I was lucky enough to find an empty spot in front of the Radio Shack, next door to the Food Mart.

I sat in my car for a while, rummaging through my coupons and hoping for a break in the weather. I didn’t have a lot of groceries to pick up, but it would be easier getting in and out of the car if I was prepared. As I reached into the back seat to stow my coupon file, I noticed the car parked beside mine. The windows were starting to fog, telling me there was someone inside.

Gathering my purse and flipping up the hood on my rain jacket, I opened my car door and made a mad dash for the covered sidewalk. Once under shelter, I pulled back the hood, shaking rain off my hands. I had to wipe water off my glasses on my shirt before my vision was clear again.

When I looked up I could see inside the car adjacent to mine. There were people inside, but at that point all I saw was a little boy who couldn’t have been three. He was leaning over the front seat, but kept looking into a car seat beside him. There was no adult with him.

We made eye contact, and he abruptly sat back in the seat, slumping down where I couldn’t see him. I walked slowly around to the side of the car, ignoring the rain, to see he wasn’t alone. A small baby was asleep in the car seat.

I was stunned. Here were two very young children, left alone in a car.

Not knowing what to do, I went into the first store, asking a clerk if he saw who was driving the car outside his business. He even made an announcement when I told him about the kids. No one claimed responsibility.

Still unsure what to do, I went back to my car. I could at least keep a watch over the kids until someone came back. Maybe who ever was in charge of them had just run into the grocery store for a couple of minutes.

I rehearsed my rebuke while I waited. After another 10 minutes, I made a decision I thought I’d never have to make, but one I’ve never regretted. I called the police to report two children unattended in a parked car.

After giving the emergency dispatcher my information and location, I agreed to stay where I was until a patrol car arrived. By this time, I estimated the children had been in the car, alone, for at least half an hour.

The officer had impeccable timing. He pulled behind the car just as an older woman walked up, presumably their grandmother, pushing a cart full of groceries.

My guess was that both kids were asleep when she arrived. Not wanting to wake them, or struggle with two small, tired kids in the rain, she just locked the car doors and went shopping, hoping they would stay asleep until she was done.

Once the officer arrived, I got out of my car, nodded to him, asking if he needed me to stay. He thanked me and waved me on. I don’t know if the woman was cited or if she was only given a warning. Regardless, I did hope that this was a harsh lesson for her, and was glad it didn’t end in tragedy.

Dam Burst

For Story Dam, an online writing community offering weekly and monthly writing prompts. This week’s theme is: I didn’t want to do it

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

13 thoughts on “I’d do it again

  1. We’ve all been there. I don’t care how hard it’s raining, you either wake your kids up and run into the store or you decide a trip to the market can wait. Way to hang around and make sure those little kiddos were ok!


  2. I popped over from Story Dam. I feel slightly embarrassed I guess, for my mother. She used to leave me alone in the car all the time. Wait, not all the time. That sounds like neglect. I mean only sometimes. I, oh bother, there is no way that comment is going to sound right. Forget I said anything. Although I guess that explains a lot about me, eh?

    As for the post itself, I agree with the sentiment. Children should not be left unattended, ever, when in public. (I was a special case. I was born old.) and I’d support you making that decision again.

    You’ve a strong voice and I enjoyed the setup for this post. You had me hooked.


  3. When my kids were little I longed for a drive through supermarket or drug store! Where you could drive up with your sleeping kids and have a few items brought to your car!


  4. This one made me grit my teeth. I can see it happening… what a horrible feeling that would be for the child old enough to know that he was there, but young enough not to know how to deal with it all. They were lucky you were there!


  5. Ugh, I see this all the time. Did you know that it’s not illegal to leave your kids alone in the car for up to 10 minutes in IL? That always flabbergasts me. The closest I come to leaving my children alone in the car is at carpool pickup in the parking lot of our church when I am the closest car and Mister Man’s class is already out, and Little Miss is waving at us for the whole 30 seconds I’m grabbing him. I have seen too many freaky things, and it makes me so mad. You waited far longer than I would have, had I been in your situation. And shame on Grandma! Inconvenience sucks, but like I’ve said to my friends who took their kids out of carseats before they were big enough – it may be inconvenient to you to have to buckle the five point harness, but I bet it would be a heck of a lot more inconvenient to have a dead child because the booster didn’t support them well enough.

    Off my soap box now.


  6. I agree with what the others said….I can understand how hard it is to drag kids out but still, I could never, never leave them. And I’ve been there.
    You did the right thing!


  7. I SO agree with what you did. It’s just too bad an opportunity for Excessive Humiliation didn’t present itself. After all, “Granny” gets a point for taking care of *somebody’s* kids, but loses two points for not doing so properly – so she comes out short on that whole karma thing – and EH could have evened that out for her. Now she’s walking around short on karma – and that’s not good for anybody. You would have done her a favor.


  8. I’m so torn with you!! Yes, absolutely that was the right thing to do, and you handled it perfectly. I can’t BELIEVE that woman left for so long! I’m so glad Caroline at least has reached an age where she can hang out in the (engine on) car with her DS if she wants to.


  9. You know, I get it. I’ve been there. BUT instead of leaving my kids I just sat in the car and waited until they woke. There is just no way I’d ever leave them in a car alone for longer than a minute and then only if I had the car in my full view at all times.


    1. That’s the thing, I’ve been there too. It’s a pain to drag 2 little kids through the rain, especially if they’re tired and grouchy. You either suck it up, or run errands another time. I never left my kids alone in a car either.


  10. I’m so glad you did that!! Good for you! There’s no telling what could have happened to those little ones. Car doors don’t always stay locked just because a parent locks them. They can be opened up from the inside. I can’t imagine what may have happened if the older child had opened up his door and gotten out of the car into a crowded parking lot. Parking lots are dangerous places for kids to be left alone…not just the dangers of cars, but there could have been a pedophile lurking nearby. I never understand it when I hear about kids being left in cars alone while parents or caregivers shop.


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