They say wisdom comes with age. You would think that, by this time in my life, said wisdom would start to show his face. I fear he is hiding from me. Just recently, I did another one of my absentminded mess-up.
I had been grocery shopping. I don’t mind shopping but I’m not crazy about bringing all those supplies into the house and putting them away. So I usually go often so as not to make it such a chore. The fact remains that I view it as a chore so my attitude was slightly out of sorts. I was ready to be done with it and get home.
Coming out of the store, I located my car, and made a beeline to it, using the clicker to unlock the doors. It was just across the driveway, where I usually park, right in front of me. I pulled the cart up beside the backseat door for easier loading and opened the door. And there, in the front seat of my car, sat a stranger! Moreover, she was shouting that I had the wrong car! This was not my car! she said. She was adamant that this was not my car.
Shocked, I glanced around and, sure enough, across the way sat my car, just opposite us. She was right. I was, in fact, trying to get in the wrong vehicle. In my defense, it was identical to mine. There are a lot of those silver cars around! What followed was an immense amount of apologetic groveling. Then I closed the door and slunk off to my own vehicle, loaded my groceries, and went home. As quickly as I could manage.
Now, I agree that I should have been paying better attention. And I take all responsibility for the embarrassment felt. It was entirely my fault.
But the longer I stewed about what had happened, it became clear to me how this innocent mistake could definitely have turned into a bad situation. Obviously, my clicker had not unlocked her car door. In fact, she had been sitting there on a public parking lot in an unlocked vehicle. I don’t know about you, but my doors are always locked.
What if… What if I had been someone with less than honorable intentions? What if this had not been an honest mistake but a calculated observation? What if I were a stalker. What if there had been children in the car? Children left unattended happens more often than we would like to admit. Abductions occur all the time and I had demonstrated, in my absentmindedness, just how easily it could have happened. If it had been my intention, I could easily have slipped in beside this woman and hijacked her car. Or reached in and grabbed a child. Or a purse. Or some other valuable sitting on the seat.
Luckily, this woman, whom I did not know, only yelled at me. She could have just as easily overreacted and pulled a weapon. That happens all the time too. I could have been shot! That was a sobering thought, as well.
I went home wondering just how many times we escape horrible things simply because we made a different choice. And all the tragedies that we never realize were just around the next corner that we didn’t turn.
So here’s my advice. Pay attention. Be observant. Make sure it is your vehicle before you try to get in! But, maybe more importantly, keep your doors locked. Why invite trouble? Be vigilant. And I’ll do the same; I’ll try to stay away from your car. I promise.