Monday, March 14, 2011

"Just the facts, ma'am"

This morning, I was reminded of that signature phrase by Dragnet's Joe Friday from the days of black and white television, which will ring a bell for anyone over fifty.

It was a beautiful, sunny, cold morning and a good chance to leave the treadmills indoors to get some fresh air for my morning walk/run. I went to the local township cross-country track to enjoy the birds, the scenery, and to say hello to the Yellow Labs who were walking their owners and reading their "nose paper". 



In the hours before noon, when there aren't a lot of people present,  I tend to walk the part of the track nearest the parking lot and the street beside it. I wait until over six or eight people are present before heading to the back of the track. Ten or fifteen minutes after I arrived, only three other people were present and a car entered, parked a space away from my car, and no one got out. As much as I enjoy that outdoor track, I am always on alert which takes away from the enjoyment a bit.

For the remainder of the hour that I was walking and running, I could see a man sitting in the car but he didn't get out to walk the track. I felt that was suspicious behavior. It reminded me of a story that was in our local news recently about restaurant parking lots where cars were burgularized while patrons were eating in the restaurants.

It is tempting to embellish this story at the track, but I am fairly certain that there was a perfectly good explanation for his ill-considered behavior. Maybe he works from his car like Mickey Haller, The Lincoln Lawyer (the movie opens this week) created by Michael Connelly, but perhaps he should consider that it sets off alarm bells for observers who see him just sitting in his car. In the morning hours, the track has housewives, retirees and a few dogs, so anyone up to no good would find vulnerable pickings. I like to give the benefit of the doubt, while being prepared for the worst. My students used to say, "Don't you trust me?" To which I liked to reply, "Of course, right after I remove this temptation." 

I always have my I.D., my cell phone, and my keys in my pockets when I go to the track. I lock my car, but I suspect some people don't. Some may leave things visible in cars while thinking they are close to home and are safe in their own community. Because I had my cell phone with me, I thought I would take a few pictures of the track and, oh gee, the parking lot just happened to be in the background. I made a production of the fact that I was taking a lot of pictures of the area from various angles. I never felt enough comfort to head to the back of the track out of sight of the parking lot today.


So I finished my walking and fearless fool that I am, I walked back to my car in a path that took me straight toward his car. I took a close look at his face, and memorized his license plate. I could describe the car perfectly, and I jumped into my car, locked it and wrote down the info. I left and he stayed, so if I ever need that information, I've got your number pal. I'm ready if Joe Friday needs me.


  1. Well, you must be a closet sleuth! I hope it is all for no reason, but it would make me suspicious, too, if a man sat for a long time in his car like that.

    Good for you, being proactive like that!

  2. Sorry your walk/run was spoilt today - a lot of salesmen sit in parked cars ... especially if they are ahead of schedule!

    My husband was a policeman for 20 years and was forever reminding me to be alert and take down details.

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  4. It looks a nice run. I used to run on a track that looks like that but by a river, when I lived in Bratislava Slovakia. Slovakia is vary clean and the air is fresh and its a safe place. I would run for 40 mins and only ever see one or two people walking their dogs.

    Be careful and be alert the world is full of nutters and loan women running could be in danger. Run without music and maybe run with a dog or friend if you can? Never run at dawn or dusk.

    In Moscow, its not possible to run outside at the air is polluted and there are wild dogs. I do it on a treadmill at a gym which is very boring but I have no choice. I prefer outside.

    Nice photos and keep up the exercise