Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

I am not a nosy person. Most of the jobs I've had required confidentiality. One of them, in human resources, required that I familiarize myself with the types of questions the law says employers mustn't ask. So, whether it comes naturally or through years of practice, I mind my own business, sometimes to the point that it comes across as indifference. I'm not nosy, but I'm not indifferent, either.

Yesterday, as I loaded groceries into the trunk of my car at the hottest place in the world (the Walmart parking lot), I kept hearing the muffled barking of a dog. I looked around while I situated slithery plastic bags but couldn't figure out where the sound was coming from. Finished, I closed the trunk. Part of me wanted nothing more then than to get in the car, turn the air conditioner on full blast, and head for home. I'm sure the man who was waiting to park his pickup truck in my space expected me to do just that. But I couldn't.

Instead, I took off walking, following the direction of the barking dog, until I finally narrowed the sound down to a couple of cars. The little dog, a cute, fluffy, spotted thing, was standing up in the backseat of the first car I approached. The car's front windows were both down about two inches, but the back windows were up, and the interior of the car was black. I would not have wanted to be stuck in that backseat.

Not sure what to do, I decided to call the Sheriff's Office. Not 9-1-1, but the main office, where I hoped to get advice about what steps I could legally take. Having worked for the Public Defender, I knew the Sheriff's Office number by heart. I tried and failed to dial it half a dozen times. First of all, the shine on my cell phone makes it almost impossible to see the screen in bright sunlight. Secondly, my hands were shaking like crazy, so I kept hitting numbers twice and having to back up or start over. Then I noticed a young woman approaching very slowly, pushing a grocery cart. She had a worried look on her face and was staring straight at me.

"Is this your car?" I asked.


"I was calling the Sheriff," I told her. "It's way too hot to leave a dog in the car."

"I take good care of my dog," she replied.

"Not like this," I said. Then I quoted statistics to her, facts I'd learned by watching TV and reading websites like this one. I finished up by asking her to please hurry up and get that dog in some cool air.

She said, "Thank you for your concern." She didn't say it sarcastically, but so calmly that I detected a tone of let-me-be-careful-how-I-talk-to-the-crazy-lady. Whatever. I'd had my say.

I walked back to my car, turned on the A/C and waited a couple more minutes--just long enough to make sure John QuiƱones wasn't going to show up.

So, have you ever been in a position where you weren't sure what to do? What was the situation, and what did you decide?


  1. Poor little dog. I am glad you took a stand. I bet she will think twice before doing it again. I went to Kroger early this week and an elderly man left his Feist like dog in the pick up...but mornings are cool and he had the windows half way down. Don't know if the dog was straped in or not. When the man game out, the dog went crazy seeing his master. They were an good pair. The man was crippled and had to use a ride around cart. Truck was old, but I could tell the two loved each other.

    1. I think most people who take their dogs along for a ride do so because they love them, and I don't believe they'd leave the dogs alone in the car if they understood how hot it gets--and how fast it heats up. I guess we can educate people one at a time if we have to.


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