July in Virginia, tempers can run hot.
Join us in August and cool down with Andy Offutt Irwin.
Remember: You Matter. Your Stories Matter. Tell Them Well!
The Storytellers Channel
This past Saturday I had the honor of sharing my Thoughts on Crafting a Good Story at the Toastmasters District 66 Summer Leadership Institute here in Richmond.
If you’d like a copy of the PowerPoint I used for the presentation drop me an email and I’ll gladly share it.
Work-Life and Motivation expert Paul Artale was the keynote speaker.
He’s as big a fan of the Clifton Strengths Finder as I am.
I encourage you to check out his website.
Last Friday afternoon, I walked out of a meeting into the hot, bright sunlight of July in Virginia. As my colleague and I approached our cars there was a dog barking at us from a locked car. I was concerned and walked over to the car. It was a Prius. The dog grew even more agitated as I approached the car.
The Prius is a very quiet car and it turned out the car was running. I placed my hand on the windshield and it was too hot to leave my hand there. I placed my hand on the side windows and they were significantly cooler and then I placed my hand on the back windshield and it was as hot as the front windshield. I made the assumption the owner had left the air conditioning running and frankly I was tempted to walk away.
But my colleague’s concern tipped the scales and I decided to walk into the businesses that were closest to see if I could identify the owner. I opened the door to Chipotle and using my stage voice asked if anyone in there drove a silver Prius with William & Mary and VCU bumper stickers with a dog locked inside. Other than the employees there was only one customer and no one responded.
I ran next door to Petco and then Fresh Market repeating my inquiries. I then returned to the car. By this time the owner had returned. It was the guy who had been in line in Chipotle. I don’t know what had transpired between my colleague and the young man, but when I got back to the car the situation was tense.
He was half in his car, and she was outside, and he was giving her what for.
I attempted to engage him, “Young Man”, but I got now further as he responded, “Don’t you ‘young man’ me, I’m in my thirties.”
I responded, “Then sir, how would you like me to address you?”
He was taken aback for a moment and then responded, “Sir will do fine.”
“Sir,..” but I got no further as he launched into, “Didn’t you see the car was running?”
“Yes, sir, I did and when I put my hand on the windshield it was too hot to leave it there.”
“Well, put your hand in here.”
Throughout all of this his dog, sensing his master’s agitation, was barking up a storm.
“Sir, I am not going to put my hand inside your car.”
“No, you just chose to overreact. Asshole!”
At which point he jumped in his car and backed out of the parking space.
I pulled my camera out and took a picture of his license plate.
He stopped his car and I thought he was coming back and then he sped away.
My colleague was a little shook up. Apparently, their exchange had been quite heated.
As I drove home, I vacillated between questions about the legality of leaving an animal in a locked car during the summer and my sadness at the way the incident was handled.
I’m sure he felt having left the A/C on he had left his dog in a safe environment and was embarrassed by our questioning his judgement. His indignity was evident, and I poured fuel on it by having the audacity to call him, “Young Man.”
I hope should I find myself in his position I will have the grace to respond with something along the lines of, “Thank you for your concern about my dog’s well-being, but it’s quite comfortable inside and he is safe.”
That said, I don’t always handle having my judgement or integrity questioned in an adult manner.
I had no desire to humiliate or demean him. I am proud I didn’t laugh when he told me he was in his thirties. I didn’t even smile, but at that moment he seemed like a little boy protesting how grown up he was. Had I so much as smiled, things might have truly gotten out of hand.
When I pulled up in front of the house, I called the Police Non-Emergency number asking about the law as it related to this situation. They referred me to animal control. The officer was as kind as he could be. He explained, there are laws about neglecting and mistreating animals, but nothing specifically prohibiting leaving a dog in a car under these circumstances.
He said, in the future if I was concerned to call 911 and officers would respond and if it were necessary to break into the car, they would take the appropriate action.
I thanked him, and as I hung up, I wondered what the fella’s response would have been had I dialed 911?
I’m not sure, what I’ll do should I be faced with this situation again, but I hope I’ll have the presence of mind NOT to begin with, “Young…”
I Want to Hear from You
Drop me a line at email@example.com and let me know what stories or storytelling topics you’d like me to explore.
Til next time,