Sunday, February 03, 2008

Shutting off the Engine in an Unattended Car

The Click and Clack article in this morning’s paper about finding a car running, no one around, and the questioner wanting to shut it off, reminds me of a story.

Many long years ago, it seems, about 1957, I was going to Milwaukee School of Engineering in Milwaukee Wisconsin. One of my part time jobs was working at a downtown parking lot. My job was parking cars or telling people where to park them as they came to work, and then digging them out when they left. At the time I had a 1951 Buick. I did not drive it much as I lived close to school and had to keep my nose to the grindstone. But it did get me back home to Indiana once in a while.

Anyway, 1 day there was this car parked at the back entrance to a store at the edge of our lot. The motor was running. I kept watching it. No one came to check it. I was thinking the driver must have forgot to turn off the key when they got out. Finally, being the helpful person that I was, I decided to go over and turn it off. Which I did. The door was unlocked so I did not have take off my sock or find a potato and stuff it up the tailpipe.

After some time a man came out of the back door, yelling “Who in the hell turned off my car?” He was pretty livid. Of course I had to admit the deed. “Well get your car, because we have to push/toe it to get it started”. No one had a chain so ‘push it’ it was, with my nice ’51 Buick. It seem like I pushed him forever, several blocks before it started. The bumpers scraping and grinding. I remembered the scratches on the front bumper for a long time.

From that day on I have never turned of the engine in a car that I have seen running with no one around.

Ps- My boss was interesting also. Telling me stories about his escapades running bootleg whiskey from St Louis to Chicago in the roof of his car, during prohibition.


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