So last night I had dinner with a friend, and after she’d left me at my door and I’d gotten one shoe off, she called me.
“I’m standing here looking at a car on your corner, and it looks like the man inside is dead.”
“I don’t want to be one of those people who just walks by and doesn’t say anything, then they find him days later …”
“Yeah. Do you want me to come knock on the window or something?”
“I’ll be right out.”
So I put my shoe and my coat back on and go outside. As I walk up to my friend, I get a look at the man in the car. He’s in the driver’s seat, his mouth is hanging wide open, and he looks green. I step past him quickly to avoid looking at him longer. I immediately know I’m too spooked to go up to the car and knock on the window.
I tell my friend he looks dead alright. We decide she should call the police.
It always takes a much longer time to tell the police anything than you think it will. My friend says there is a man in a car who doesn’t look like he’s breathing, describes the car, names its make and color, repeats the address a few times, steps around to the back of the car to read off the license plate. She explains a few more times that it doesn’t look like he’s breathing, that she doesn’t feel comfortable knocking on the window because she doesn’t know him. (Nice explanation, I think. Much better than saying you are too spooked.)
Just as she’s finishing the call, a young boy walks up from across the street with a violin case. He jumps into the back of the car. The driver sits up immediately and they drive away.
When we regain the power of speech, I tell her, we’d better call back and stop them.
So my friend calls up and says, I just called before about a man sitting in a car, cancel it, the man is okay. The dispatcher tells her they can’t “cancel” anything, only issue updates.
I say, “Let’s get out of here before the police get here.” She agrees and we scram, walking quickly in our separate directions.
A few minutes later, a fire truck and a police SUV come cruising by with sirens wailing, down the street past where the car was parked and then back again, turning down another street. Someone else’s false alarm, I can only hope.