Gear shift stick–(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
. . . I left my children, one of whom was a teen (in the back seat) another, a baby (strapped into an infant car seat in the front) in the car while I stepped into a store to confirm an order.
Just for a moment.
The engine was off and in the parking gear. The town was population 100 or so, all friends and neighbors. The street was seldom trafficked.
This was a safe practice 30 years ago.
The baby was in that “twos” stage, when (we all know) it takes expert managing to control their little adventures. He was ready for adventure that morning.
We did not know he’d been studying how to extricate himself from his car seat.
The teenage child was in the midst of inexpertly admonishing him (from the back seat, remember) to get back into his seat, when the baby grabbed the gear stick and—in direct defiance of the manufacturer’s promises about parking safety specs—pulled it out of gear.
The car began to roll backward.
A grocery sacking attendant happened by at that moment.
And yanked open the door on which the baby was leaning for support.
The baby fell out.
The car continued rolling.
The sacker guy grabbed him, about one second before the wheel could crush him, tossed him back into the car, jumped in, stomped on the brakes, and put the car back in gear, averting further disaster.
He then proceeded into the store where he chewed me out, half explaining and half blaming me, in his total anxiety/trauma/relief-reaction to his recent activities with my children.
I, wondering what he was talking about, left my business in the store to check on my children. All was seemingly fine. They were somewhat upset, but the baby had learned the lesson and was totally compliant about being in the seat, into which his older sib had succeeded in returning him.
Outside of anger that the car could be taken out of gear, when the engine was off and the keys in my purse, contrary to new safety regulations, with which the manufacturer made loud claims to have been in compliance, I really felt only relief and thankfulness for how things turned out.
But that night, it started . . .