Sorry, not sorry😔😠
What I'm about to tell you is going to make you mad!😡 You're going to read a story that will sound like it was taken from the headlines of the local news, a tragic foul on the part of humanity. You'll want to react harshly, curse vehemently and launch a crusade to bring about justice...just as I did when I was the main blonde character of this story...but please don't waste your passion...like I did...just see it through till the end and reassure me that you would've done the same thing, only better and smarter. It was a beautiful summer day, the kind where it's warm but not dreadfully hot. The kind where you MIGHT be able to convince the kids that it's not hot enough to go swimming so that you don't have to deal with wardrobe changes and wet clothes. I had just completed a food replenishing mission and was pushing a full shopping cart towards my car in the parking lot of a local grocery store. As I loaded my bags into the trunk I noticed an SUV parked directly behind me. I don't typically notice cars parked around me, I have enough trouble finding my own, but this one caught my attention because there were 5 very rambunctious children inside that I estimated to be age 5 and under. One was sitting in the front passenger seat and appeared to be peacefully playing on a tablet. 2 were on the right side of the 2nd row protesting that they were still buckled into 5 point harnesses because there were 2 more who were freely roaming about the interior of the car like it was a playground. The 2 emancipated toddlers were very busy climbing over the two rows of seats and squeezing into that space between the driver and passenger seat to see what was playing on the tablet up front. This predictably led to an all out brawl of headlocks and fisticuffs. None of it was overly violent or required intervention, it was typical toddler warfare, but it WAS unsupervised. There was NO adult in the driver's seat making it shockingly obvious that these innocent and defenseless (although some of the punches being thrown didn't make them seem TOO defenseless) children were left unattended in this parking lot while their mother was inside shopping. "Calm down, K.T.!"....that's me talking to myself, sometimes audibly, sometimes not. First let me explain...KT was a nickname given to me in high school by some of my volleyball teammates. No real relevance behind it, my initials were C.T. but that didn't quite sound smooth so they decided K.T. was cooler. No one calls me that anymore, but for some reason I still do when I'm reprimanding myself for being irrational, unfair and just blonde in general...which is often. Anyway, back to my conversation with myself... "Calm down, KT! You don't know if it's their MOTHER or FATHER that left them abandoned in the parking lot. Why did you default to the Mom, that's not fair?" Before I could answer myself I noticed a man just a few feet away, smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk outside of the store. It appeared as if he was keeping an eye on the overpopulated SUV. Thankful that I was wrong about my initial assessment of the situation, I chastised myself once again..."way to panic, KT! Everything is fine, Dad is watching over them from a safe distance and being additionally responsible by smoking out of range rather than in the vehicle with them.". Now relieved, I began to wheel my empty shopping cart back to the front of the store. "Dad" saw me coming towards him and offered to return my cart for me. I handed it off to him and as I said "thank you" I noticed his name tag...he wasn't "Dad" at all, he was a store employee taking a smoke break who was obviously entertained by the shenanigans going on inside the SUV. He finished his cigarette, disappeared back into the store and left me back at square one, berating myself for having lousy instinct and worried about these children. I decided to sit in my car and wait for this woman...this PARENT, to come back out of the store. I refused to leave these kids unattended. I didn't want to approach the SUV and risk being accused of something predatory so I sat there and kept an eye on them through my rear view mirror. I had no idea how long these children had been unattended before I came out of the store and had a brilliantly blonde thought..."I should start the timer on my phone and see how long we sit here and wait for this irresponsible parent to show up so I know how much to charge for babysitting"...ok, my thoughts were NOT on being compensated for my time, they were on what colorful language I planned to unleash when I encountered this person. I sat there for over 7 minutes. With each minute that passed I got madder and madder! Minute 1..."I have ice cream in the trunk that is probably melting...but the safety of these children is more important, K.T.! Continue the standoff"😡🕐 Minute 2..."what if this is some sort of social experiment? What if there is a camera crew standing by documenting my response time, testing whether or not I will intervene or just go about my business like I didn't notice them? I've seen these setups on various segments of the news, I want to be the person who "does the right thing"...Continue the standoff, KT!"... "Ok, drama queen, this isn't really a "standoff", you're standing GUARD, not standing OFF, relax!"😡😡🕒 Minute 3...alternating practice of my aforementioned colorful language and trying to find the positives about this irresponsible mother. To be fair the windows were all down and the children weren't inside suffocating so she's got THAT going for her...however, open windows make it easier for someone to come by and pluck one of them out of there...and NOW we're back to colorful language again.😡😡😡🕔 Minute 4...worrying myself thinking of all the possible horrific outcomes these children may have faced if I hadn't been here acting as a responsible citizen..."this isn't about YOU, KT! this is about them"😡😡😡😡🕚 Minute 5...more colorful language as I envisioned the life these poor children must live on a daily basis with a parent who so carelessly leaves them alone in a parking lot. Why did she even bring them along? Why didn't she just leave them at home unattended, why did she have to involve me? "Again, KT, this isn't about YOU"😡😡😡😡😡🕞 Minute 6...ice cream, melting...grrrrrrrrrrr😡😡😡😡😡😡🕢 Minute 7...ok, this is beyond irresponsible, it's neglect. I need to call someone. I called the local police department directly. I didn't want to call 911 because I felt like I needed to consult someone first, like I needed confirmation that I should be troubled by this scenario. I didn't know if it was necessary to dispatch an officer right away or if they would suggest something different. I felt like I was in an awkward conundrum-I didn't want to offend this mother by reporting her and therefore judging her parenting but I also knew there was great potential danger in leaving children vulnerable like that, and to do so in this day of human trafficking and horrific abuse is inexcusable. I explained the situation to the person on the other end of the phone and she wasted no time in transferring me to 911 to dispatch an officer. "Dammit, KT, why didn't you just call 911 in the first place? this isn't the time to be worried about offending someone." The 911 operator was very calm, I was very nervous. I was reporting a crime, this was serious business. What if this brings about a devastating consequence for this mother, what if her children are taken from her? I knew I was doing the right thing but I felt sick about it....sick because of what this mother might face, sick because I should've acted sooner instead of just monitoring the situation, and sick because the urgency conveyed by the operator confirmed that this had the potential to be a catastrophic situation for these children. The operator asked all the basic questions-my name, my phone number, where I was parked, how long the children had been unattended, if the windows were down, etc. He then asked me the color of the SUV..."Brown? Tan? Wait, no, Goldish?", I answered nervously.🤷🏼♀️ "What is the make of the vehicle?" Looking in my rear view mirror I couldn't see the emblem on the front of the car because it was too close to mine. I guessed, "Nissan?"🤷🏼♀️ At this point all of my answers sounded like guesses, like they are when I go for an eye exam and I'm trying to deny that I can't see the letters..."the bottom row is A? Q? B or S they kind of look the same, and a very pregnant Y...or is that an R?"🤷🏼♀️ Probably losing all faith in me to recite an actual fact about the scene the operator asked, "Are you able to get the license plate number? Do you feel safe going to get that information?" Confident that I could finally be an accurate witness with my newfound assignment I answered, "yes, I can do that." I opened my door to get out of the car. When I stood up in the parking lot I could clearly see the emblem on the front of the SUV... I was right, it IS a Nissan! I am SO good at this witness thing! Trying to sound like the professional witness that I am, I spoke to the 911 operator again, "I can confirm that it IS a Nissan" I made a wide circle out around the car so as not to walk too closely and make it obvious that I was examining it for details. One of the kids inside the SUV yelled out a greeting to me and I naturally turned to respond to them. I now had a clear view into the vehicle through the side window and could see ALL of the contents of the entire 2nd row seat. I was unable to see the area behind the front passenger seat earlier from my lowly vantage point inside my car, but now standing beside the SUV I could. There in the seat behind the child with the tablet was the tiniest, sweetest little Abuela...that's Spanish for grandmother. I'm not implying that she was Hispanic, (although perhaps she was, obviously my powers of observation are not always accurate) I just think "Abuela" is a beautiful word and more accurately describes the grandmotherly figure I saw. Her stature so petite and her demeanor so meek that she went unnoticed in that corral of chaos, but her love so fierce that she would've protected those babies with every ounce she had. I would say we were kindred spirits but I am neither petite nor meek, just fierce in love for my own grandbabies. My heart immediately went into my throat as I realized these children were NEVER unattended at all and I felt terrible for thinking and relaying that they were. I was tempted to maintain a professional tone with the 911 operator and say "Mission Aborted...the children are safe" but instead I apologized profusely. It was quite an embarrassing AND humbling moment. So in conclusion, I'm SORRY and NOT sorry...I'm sorry that I wasted the time of the 911 dispatcher and I sincerely hope I didn't prevent him from attending to any other TRUE emergencies while dealing with my inaccuracies. I'm also SORRY for criticizing the parent of those children, mother OR father, I never did find out which, I just left the scene feeling like a fool. But I'm NOT SORRY for being passionate about the safety of children and calling my own credibility into question in an attempt to preserve it.