Daily Archives: July 18, 2014

Hot Car Summer


Is there something in the water?

Does this kind of thing happen all the time and it just never got news play this big before?  Is it the fact that this schmuck who apparently murdered his toddler by locking him in the car that’s thrown the spotlight on other inadvertent cases?

It seems like every day there’s another news story of another kid locked in another car, and it just makes me wonder, what the fargo is going on?  Are people really forgetting about their kids?  Or, worse, are they really just not thinking about the fact that it’s summer and the temperature in your car can get up over 120 degrees in the space of a few minutes in the sun?  Or, worse worse worse, are people who hate their kids trying to murder their children without actually having to murder their children?

(Strap yourselves in, it’s about to get preachy in here.)

Whatever the case, this sharknado is happening too often.  I refuse to believe that a rational adult, functioning with all the years of development in a human spirit and parental instinct could at best forget about his kid, or at worst leave the kid in a hot car to suffer and die.  It’s torture in addition to neglect.  Does this not bespeak the need to step up the penalties for committing a crime like this against a helpless child?  I understand that not every parent wants to be a parent, and certainly not every parent is cut out to be a parent, but that doesn’t mean that the kid should suffer for that parent’s shortcomings, EVER.

I think it’s time to get a little bit medieval on this particular crime.  Throw it back to the old code of Hamurabi.  This is not facetiery.  I’m being very serious.  To commit a crime like this against a child is indicative of a fundamental lack of something human, whether the crime is intentional or accidental.  If your own parental instinct isn’t going to keep you from torturing and murdering your child, isn’t it the job of society to make sure you don’t, through deterrent and harsh punishment?  You do this — you lock your kid in the car, INTENTIONALLY OR ACCIDENTALLY, and part of your sentence is that you have to sit in the same car in the same heat for at least as long as you let the kid sit.  The kid died in the car?  Guess what, waste of skin?  You get to suffocate and burn just the same.

Say what you want about capital punishment for murderers; that’s a whole separate issue.  These are, in the unholy majority of cases, parents acting against their kids, and that means they’re unfit at best, and downright psychopathic and depraved at worst.

Let’s take the three cases: neglect (I forgot the kid was in the car), idiocy (I only left him for a few minutes), and outright murder.

Neglect.  You forgot your kid was in the car with you?  Really?  What were you so engrossed with, what was so important?  What, in short, demanded SO MUCH of your attention that you FORGOT about the life that you brought into the world?  You forgot that that life was in your care and depended on you for the basicest of basic needs (shelter from harm)?  “Sorry” doesn’t cut it.  “I wasn’t thinking” doesn’t cut it.  If you weren’t thinking, if you “just forgot” your kid was in the car, you need a reminder.  Enjoy your penance in the sun box.

Idiocy.  You knew what you were doing, but you were only going to leave the kid in the car for a few minutes.  Okay.  Some people are not the most empathetic or sympathetic; in fact some of us can barely see past the end of our own noses.  Look no further than viral videos of morons texting on their cell phones as they wander into traffic or into water fountains to see that some people aren’t concerned with ANYBODY outside of their own skin.  So you aren’t thinking about consequences another person might have to endure, that’s plain.  But that’s not good enough.  This is your child.  A life that you created, that counts on you to make the world a safe place to the best of your ability.  You’re going to knowingly leave that child in an enclosed space in the dead of summer for any length of time?  I feel bad closing the door on my kid and then loading groceries into the back for thirty seconds before I can get the A/C on.

Here’s the rub for this instance.  Would you sit in a car with the windows up for ANY length of time in the summer heat if you didn’t have to?  If you said anything other than “no,” you’re lying to yourself.  You wouldn’t sit in the car while your significant other ran into the grocery store.  While she got her nails done. While he went to have a beer.  And if somehow you DID find yourself sat in a car with the windows up and no A/C running, within twenty seconds you’d be looking for a way to break the windows out, because YOU’RE AN ADULT and you have that capability.  Kids don’t have that capability.  If you really thought it wouldn’t be so bad for your kid to wait in the car while you ran in at the post office or picked up eggs from the store, then you need a reminder.  Enjoy your penance in the sun box.

Murder.  What can be said?  If you intentionally leave your kid in a hot car knowing he’s likely to die, you don’t deserve your worthless hide, and you deserve to exit it smothering and suffering and suffocating, whether your kid died or not.

There’s no excuse for it.  There’s no reason a child should have to suffer for an adult’s idiocy or negligence.  A stronger message needs to be sent to protect these poor kids.

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That Time I Overheard a Jerk in a Restaurant and Learned a Lesson About Writing


It’s odd how one little detail, left out of a situation, can completely change your read on it.  Or, to cut in the opposite direction, how you can think you have a handle on what’s going on, and then you learn something new about what’s happening, and all of a sudden you feel like a horrible sharknadoheel for thinking a certain way, or maybe you feel totally vindicated.

The wife and I went to dinner while the grandparents kept the kids for the evening.  Sidenote: when I say dinner, for us that means we hit the restaurant at about 4:30.  I know, we might as well be geriatrics, but when your kid’s bedtime is at seven, you have to rethink the way you live your life.  So it’s 4:30, and we’re at dinner at a nice little pasta place we like where there’s tacky 90’s stereotypical Italian decor and they serve you way too much food so you eat leftovers for two days afterward.  Because it’s 4:30, we have the place almost to ourselves, so we get served quick and we eat quick, which is nice, because having a two-year-old has left me unable to savor a meal; all I know how to do anymore is shovel foodstuffs into my beak while my mind wanders to the sprout and whether or not he’s likely to get into mortal danger before I can swallow a half-chewed mouthful.  But the kids aren’t there so we actually get to focus on each other and the ambiance, a really rare treat.

I don’t know if it’s my inclination as a writer that makes me such a shameless eavesdropper or if I’m just a jerk, but while we’re at dinner this other couple comes in and I immediately start with the judging.  There’s nothing special to say about her, but he is a paunch-bellied, unshaven slob, and that biases me against him before he opens his mouth.  To be fair, this restaurant isn’t the swankiest of joints, so there’s no dress code, but, come on.  Call me old-fashioned, but if you’re taking your wife / girlfriend / main squeeze to a dinner that’s gonna cost more than ten bucks a plate, maybe don’t dress like you just came from a World of Warcraft marathon session in your mom’s basement? Continue reading


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