So Monday I was away from home for the evening and had to grab dinner on the run. I started to drive through the aimless suburbs that surrounded me, foraging for food. Love the Trio Salad at Corner Bakery and just happened to see one as the hunger pangs kicked in. Three cheers for Cous Cous, Asparagus, Chicken and of course the mixed greens. Once I saw their little striped awning I yanked my steering wheel and pulled across three lanes of traffic to make the proper turn. It was either that dramatic driving maneuver or spend the next four months circling the massive strip malls in the area that all seem to forbid the left turn that I would need to take.
As a side note, that drives me INSANE, the no turning and keep on driving thing. Why spread ourselves across two driving lanes and two turn lanes in both directions. And all the little arrows telling me I cannot turn anywhere. Makes me want to jump curbs and drive like the Mini-Cooper scene the Italian Job.
I pulled in. Turned off my car and got ready to open my door when another car raced into the vacant spot next to me. Almost took my little door off. The driver jumped out, yammering away on his cell phone, slammed his door and left his car running (with no one else in it) as he headed into the Corner Bakery. I stood there, thankful I still had a door, and seething at the fact that he was idling his engine. It was not cold out (meaning it was 30 degrees in February, a virtual heat wave in Chicago). There was no reason for this.?
Of course I did not have the guts to tell him how ridiculous he was. He stood in line chatting on his phone, wearing an enormously puffy North Face expedition weight down jacket. Totally unnecessary in the Chicago suburbs (especially when he would be getting back into a warm car). Everything about him screamed obnoxious.?
Of course I am being super wrong and judgmental here, but tell me you have not had those moments. The ones where you look a person up and down and snap to a sudden judgment, it’s not right but some people are begging us for these looks. It’s like they woke up in the morning and said “hey, how can I get you to notice me.” This guy was big and loud and obnoxious and he liked it that way.
It took forever for the gal at the counter to ring him up and another 5-10 minutes for his carry-out food to arrive. It was a full 20 minutes before he left. I wanted to walk up to him and tell him that he owed my kids 20 minutes of fresh air. Wanted to tell him that his coat belonged in the Himalayas on some deserving sherpa, not on his back. Wanted to tell him to pay attention to the world around him.?
But I am mostly a wuss in moments like these and truth be told, he was sort of scary, so I just glared at him and prayed that he would stop idling his car next time.?
So my thoughts on that day end up here. One, what does it take for me to say the things that need to be said. What if that guy was not scary at all and what if my little tap on his shoulder followed by a green tip was actually well received? Maybe I owe my kids 20 minutes of fresh air here too. Two, let’s not idle our cars. Sure, they burn less gas idling than they do racing 65 (or 75 or 85) down the interstate, but idling them releases unnecessary CO2 into the air.?
So let’s turn them off. Off in the pick up lanes at our schools, off as we wait for our kids to come out of the library or the dance lessons, off as we dash into the post office for just a quick minute. And in case you are wondering “well, if I am idling for just a short moment, won’t it waste more gas to just turn it on and off so quickly?” I’ve read and talked to a few car experts on this issue and rumor has it that with the technology in cars today, unless you are idling for less than 30 seconds, you should shut it off.
So let’s shut off the cars. Wanna be crazy green? Consider a campaign to make a “no idling” policy in front of your child’s school. What an odd thing to pick them up from a school, the place we hope fosters a better future for them, while we burn through their oxygen. Doesn’t make sense. Gentlemen, stop your engines.