Keep Your Car Doors Locked!
Closing Thoughts

Keep Your Car Doors Locked!

Screeching tires, rubbernecking drivers and a terrifying few minutes in traffic.

Chana Shapiro

Chana Shapiro is an educator, writer, editor and illustrator whose work has appeared in journals, newspapers and magazines. She is a regular contributor to the AJT.

Photo by Dim Schliefman
Photo by Dim Schliefman

“This is the kind of thing that always happens to you!” my daughter Sara declared, as a preface to telling me about a strange incident she had just experienced.

“Let me be the judge of that,” I answered.  For the record, in spite of Sara’s claim, I’ve never undergone anything even remotely like it, and I hope I never will.

Sara was the first in a line of cars waiting to exit the Target parking lot on North Druid Hills Road. The light changed, and she entered the eastbound lane.  But as soon as she completed the turn, she was forced to jam on her brakes to make an emergency stop. Cars were already moving at a snail’s pace because it was the middle of Friday rush hour; nevertheless, they were moving.  Sara’s sudden stop caused a domino effect of screeching brakes and near-collisions from the vehicles behind her, and the rubbernecking drivers heading west slowed traffic in their direction, too.

In other words, Sara’s car disturbed traffic in both directions on a main thoroughfare during the week’s busiest rush hour.

What happened? Sara’s car was immobilized by a man who had suddenly darted into the street and positioned himself directly in front of her.  While there, he began jumping around crazily and, at the same time, hurling insults at a police officer who was standing on the side of the road, calling back to him.  She was trying to calm the fellow (let’s call him Mr. Jump) and convince him to return to the sidewalk, where they must have been engaged in some sort of altercation. So the officer and Mr. Jump each held their respective ground and yelled at each other while Sara sat in stunned silence.

Cars were honking and people were on their smartphones desperately exploring alternate routes, but most of them were stuck bumper-to-bumper.

The police officer on the scene seemed stymied, so Sara tried to figure out what she, herself, might safely try. But before she could do anything, Mr. Jump executed a dramatic flying leap onto the hood of her car and started banging on the front window, at the same time making menacing faces and screaming at her through the glass. Fortunately, he didn’t have a gun!

Sara didn’t know how to remove Mr. Jump, but she was wise enough not to communicate with him or get out of her car. Unable to engage her, the fellow acrobatically rolled off the hood, landed on the driver’s side of the car and grabbed the door handle. It was locked, Sara was trapped inside, and Mr. Jump was trapped outside.

Obviously, Sara had to figure out how to avoid being carjacked or attacked by Mr. Jump or the irate motorists blocked behind her. And she was also plagued by visions of expensive repairs to her car, fearing that it now bore permanent indentations from Mr. Jump’s performance.

Mr. Jump decided that he’d been playing nice for too long and it was time to get Sara out of her car, so he began to jerk the door handle with all his might. Sara couldn’t understand the reluctance of Officer Number One to come to her aid. However, out of the blue, Officer Number Two (perhaps called as a backup) heroically appeared from the other side of the street.

Number Two ran to Sara’s car and cuffed Mr. Jump. With Mr. Jump contained, Number One motioned for Sara to get going, which she did. No one asked her to pull over to give a statement, and no one asked how to contact her. Sara drove home and traffic started moving down North Druid Hills Road again.

Oddly, there was no permanent damage to Sara’s car, and, without physical evidence, the whole incident was so bizarre and unreal that Sara wondered if she had imagined the whole thing. She soon learned it was true when she went onto Facebook and read confused comments asking if anyone knew what happened to stop traffic on North Druid Hills during rush hour.

Sara was relieved that the following day was Shabbat, the day of rest, good food and friends, but not driving.

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