Escalade Escapades

2003-2006 Cadillac Escalade photographed in US...
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Luckily, my resolution around judgmental thinking was simply to be aware of judgmental thoughts. Because if it was to not have judgmental thoughts, I would have had a much bigger challenge Wednesday than I did.

I took the children to Whole Foods Wednesday morning, a place just ripe for judgmental thinking on an ordinary day. On this particular morning, the woman parked next to us in her Cadillac Escalade upped the ante.

I pulled into the spot next to her in my VW Jetta. As I removed my children from the car, I noticed that her vehicle was idling, and she was talking on the phone in the driver’s seat.

“Huh,” I thought. “I wonder why she’s idling her 8-cylinder engine on a red air quality day? Perhaps she is waiting for someone in the store and has a sleeping baby in the back seat she’s trying to keep warm.” A quick look in the back seat while I lifted my son from his car seat showed this wasn’t the case. I started to take a deep breath but remembered I was standing next to an idling SUV on a red air quality day, so I waited until I was inside the store to breathe deeply and make a note of my judgments about her.

We did our shopping, which involved my daughter smelling all of the flowers in the floral area and my son throwing an eggplant on the floor (I ended up buying the bruised eggplant). And what trip to the grocery store would be complete without a trip to the bathroom? About 45 minutes after we’d walked in, we were headed back out the door.

As we approached the car, I was surprised to see the Cadillac still sitting there. As we drew closer I noticed that it was still idling. As I drew closer still I confirmed that the woman was still on her phone in the front seat.

I grew more agitated. I got the kids fastened in and the groceries stowed and pondered what course of action I could take. I really wanted to say something to her. I could see myself infusing my spirit and countenance with love and smiling gently as I knocked on the driver’s side window. When she rolled down the window I would say…what?

This is where I got stuck.

I wanted to let her know that it was a red air quality day and that turning her car off while she talked on the phone might be a responsible option. But I didn’t want to be yelled at. I wasn’t sure my diplomatic skills were up to the challenge.

In the end, I walked the cart back up to the entrance of the store then stood for a few more moments outside my driver’s side door looking at her on the phone before getting in my car.

Her face looked serious. Maybe she was on a stressful phone call. Maybe this wasn’t a good time to remind her about our shared responsibility to help keep our air clean and my children non-asthmatic.

Just yesterday I was thinking over what else I could do to help improve the air quality in the valley and slow the melting of the polar ice caps. We’ve already replaced all of our bulbs with compact fluorescents, we keep our thermostat under 65 degrees, we take short showers, we buy local meat, we put fewer than 6,000 miles on the car every year, we turn off lights, we use re-usable bags, my husband bikes to work year-round, we only own one car.

But I could bike more. Even in the winter, I could bundle the kids up in the bike trailer and take that instead of the car for our errands. Or we could take the bus and light rail. Granted, that always involves a few miles of walking, but I could put the baby in the stroller or the mei tai and my daughter could walk with me. It would be a good lesson, good exercise, and good for the environment. I wasn’t doing as much as I could to keep the air clear. How could I call this woman out on her behaviors? Let she who is without sin cast the first stone, I thought.

Disappointed with myself both for not doing as much as I could be doing and for not saying anything to the driver of the idling SUV, I slid behind the wheel and directed us towards home.

2 Replies to “Escalade Escapades”

    1. Thank you, Christy. My husband is mostly worried about me hitting a patch of ice on the road. (He’s not gotten frostbite, but he has wiped out on the ice more than once.) And the kids likely would have staged a mutiny had I tried biking yesterday.


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