When doing nothing is not the answer.

An older man and woman are standing in the parking lot, just next to my car when I come out of the grocery store. I hear a dog barking and the woman say, “What should we do? It’s so hot out and the car is all locked up.”

“Is there a dog locked in a car?” I ask as I stop beside them. I’m thinking that is where the barking is coming from.

“Not a dog,” the woman responds, pointing to a red car parked next to the empty stall in which they’re standing. “A senior.”

And I look at the car she’s pointed to and see an older man, head resting on his chest, sitting by himself in a closed up car.

“Is the engine running?” I ask.

“No,” she replies. “And it’s so hot.”

“Why don’t I knock on the window and make sure he’s okay,” I suggest, walking towards the car.

The other man who was standing beside her walks away. He doesn’t want to get involved or perhaps he just thinks the situation is taken care of, no need for him.

The woman is nervous. “Do you think you should?” she asks. She holds up a piece of paper. “I have the license plate number. I can go into the store and have them call out for the owner.”

“That may take too long,” I reply. “It is really hot and he’s very still.”

I rap on the window.

The man doesn’t awaken at first. I rap again, thinking about how I’m going to have to break the window if he doesn’t stir.

He opens his eyes. Lifts his head. Slowly.

“Are you okay?” I ask him through the closed windows. I can see the keys in the ignition, but the car is not running.

He opens the door slightly. The woman hovers beside me.

“We were worried about you,” I tell the man through the open crack of the door. “It’s really hot out and we wanted to make sure you were okay.”

“I like the heat,” he replies.

“Oh. Okay. Well perhaps you may want to open your window a little bit so others don’t think you might be in distress,” I tell him with a smile.

He nods his head and closes the door.

The woman and I walk away towards our cars.

“Thank you for your help,” she says. She is hesitant. Shakes her head. Raises her shoulders. “I didn’t know what to do.”

“It is good that you noticed him,” I told her. “It’s much too hot to sit in a locked car with the windows up, even if you do like the heat.”

She smiles. Gets in her car next to mine.

I load my groceries into my car, look back at the man. He has opened his window a bit.

I am relieved.

It is much too hot to sit in a locked up car exposed to the full heat of the sun with all the windows closed.

The dog is still barking where he is leashed up to a pole near the grocery store doors.

I hope the owner comes out soon ’cause baby, it’s a scorcher.


Years ago, I saw a young woman sitting in a coffee shop by herself, crying. I did nothing.

I have learned that doing nothing is not the answer. This was for her and all the others I have walked by or not noticed who needed help or just someone to care enough to make sure they were okay.


8 thoughts on “When doing nothing is not the answer.

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