It had been a long day of no adult conversation, no one to talk to except a 4-month-old child. Again.
Most of my days were that way, so when my husband called to say he would be late coming home from work that evening, I decided I had to get out of the house.
So, I packed the baby into his car seat and headed out to the mall. Not really because I needed anything, just for something to do out in the real world where there were other people, the sound of other voices besides my own. I shopped for a while, window-shopping mostly, and then decided to head back home. By that time it was dark, bringing some welcome relief from the sizzling heat of the August sun.
The huge mall parking lot was mostly empty by then. As many women do, I felt a little uneasy about my vulnerability as I pushed the stroller through the lot, but I reached my car without mishap. I unloaded the baby from the stroller and buckled him into the car seat. I closed the door to the back seat and pulled on the handle of the front driver's side door, ready to get in and start the car. It didn't budge. I ran around the car and frantically pulled on all the door handles, hoping that one of then would be unlocked. No such luck.
Now I had a dilemma. Should I leave the baby in the car and go looking for help, or should I stay with the baby and wait for help to find me? I dithered a while, looking anxiously around me at the vast, almost empty, dark stretch of asphalt, partly for help and partly for danger.
After a few minutes, the baby realized he was alone in a dark, hot car, which was not moving as he wanted it to. He opened his sweet little angel mouth and screamed, and screamed, and screamed. That, of course, made me cry.
Finally, help arrived. A man walking out to his car saw (or heard) my distress and asked if I needed help. I explained my situation. He couldn't fix my problem himself, but he offered to go get the mall security guard to assist me.
A few moments later, the security guard whizzed up in his little golf cart. He pulled out a "slim jim" and began trying to slip it around my car window to reach the door lock. Throughout this delicate operation, the baby continued to scream. His pudgy little face was bright red, his cheeks were tear-soaked. He was mightily perturbed. I crooned useless reassurances to him through the car window.
The security guard worked and fumbled and tried again and again, but could not get the "slim jim" to work. Finally giving up, he offered to call the police to see if they could help. So, added to my fears about how hot and the baby was and how frantically upset he had become, I began to fear what would happen when the police arrived.
My fears were two-fold: Would I be arrested for child endangerment? Or would a news crew show up and shoot video of what a bad mother I was, making me the top feature on the ten o'clock news? Or both? Well, I am happy to report that neither of those fears came to pass. The police arrived, had a good chuckle or two at my predicament, and unlocked my car within seconds. I wasn't chuckling. I was hugging my baby, crying with relief, and thanking God.