Old Woman Asked: “Who Left Their Car On Outside?” The Dry Cleaning Story

By | March 28, 2015

By reading this book, you notice that a lot of interesting stuff happens to me. I suppose these kinds of things are just part of life, but I’m surprised when others make it a top priority to intervene in the lives of others.

Dry Cleaning

At least once per week, I take my clothes to the dry cleaners. Is that too often? One might argue that I need to buy more clothes, and perhaps they are right.

The $2.25 per item dry cleaners that I use is just a few miles from my home. The ideal situation is for me to take the clothes on Saturday morning because traffic is light, and the store is not too busy. However, I’m not a very good planner, which means that I show up at the dry cleaners when the need arises. For example, a day or two before a business trip, I drop off the clothes needed while I’m traveling.

The Story

On this particular Thursday, I arrived at the dry cleaners at 7:15 a.m., a quarter hour after they opened for business. Not too surprisingly, there were a few people in front of me. Most people take advantage of the same day service by dropping off their clothes before 9 a.m. Of course, this only applies to dry cleaning, and not laundry.

I was lucky that I found a parking spot directly in front of the store. I decided to leave my car on while I went to drop off the clothes. I could see my car, and felt comfortable that all was okay.

As I waited my turn, and older, and perhaps retired, lady walked in and initiated this conversation:

Lady: Who left their car on outside?

[It took a few seconds to register. I could see the car, and didn’t think that I caused anyone any trouble. This is my car. Don’t have I have the right to leave it on? I was the one taking the chance that someone could possibly run off with it, right?]

Me: Ma’am, are you talking about that SUV [pointing to my car]?

Lady: Yes! That’s the one. You know that you shouldn’t leave it on. It’s easy for someone to steal it.

[The rest of the customers were hoping this would be a short conversation, but it continued.]

Me: Ma’am, I guess you’re right. I was in a hurry, and failed to turn the car off. It’s not the brightest thing I’ve done.

Lady: If that car is stolen, you can be cited for contributory negligence. I read about that in the San Antonio Express News.

[Who cares what you read in the San Antonio Express News! That’s what I wanted to say, but I controlled myself.]

Me: I certainly don’t want to go to jail or even pay a fine for this mess-up. I’ll make sure to heed your advice.

Lady: I hope you do. I’m sure you don’t want to get in trouble with the law.

Me: You’re right. I’m sure that going to jail is low on my priority list. Have a good day.

The conversation wasn’t too bad because I didn’t take it seriously. I suppose this older woman felt important by making a big deal of the situation. She did have a point, but most people prefer not to learn the lesson in a public setting.

From time time-to-time I do leave my car on when going to the cleaners. I’m actually more concerned about the old lady catching me violating an obscure law than having the car stolen.

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