I thought there’d be an earth-shattering kaboom

Sunday at the train station I found myself face to face with a black plastic trash bag standing under a central support post in the bottom floor of the parking garage, no one around it. It wasn’t someplace you might leave a bag while unpacking your trunk. It was clearly full of “shaped” stuff, like things in boxes rather than, say, trash.

The entire train station has signs all over it proclaiming “IF YOU SEE SOMETHING THAT’S TEH WEIRD, LET US KNOW!”  *sigh*  So I unbuckled the two-year-old and hauled him back into the station to find someone to notify.

The Amtrak Police door was locked up tight, so I went to the ticket counter. “I feel really stupid telling you this,” I began, and I explained about the bag.

This is truly weird what happened next: the ticket counter clerk went with me to go take a look. I’m a jaded New Yorker and figured she’d write on a post-it “Idiot woman with baby, frightened by trash bag.”  But instead we walked into the parking garage and I showed it to her.

She prodded it, agreed it looked suspicious (actually, it looked downright creepy) and then told me, “It’s not ticking.”

Hooray. We’re safe.

We might have been safe, but I’m also not stupid, so I shut myself inside my car while I buckled the Kiddo into his seat, then climbed into the front and backed out of the space. As I left, the clerk turned to look at me, and for the first time, she appeared worried. She didn’t touch it again, and she left it there to go back inside. I hope to get someone who knew what to do other than listen for ticking. (Or beeping.)

I checked later for news about the station being evacuated. I found none. I imagine my law-enforcement-working family members laughing at my face, but as I was driving away, I also could visualize in my mind one of those Drain-O bombs, and it shamed me how, the first moment I saw that bag, my instinct was to take the baby and escape. To just leave the whole situation in my rear-view mirror and make it someone else’s problem.


  1. Illya

    You did the right thing….remember that Times Square was saved from tragedy by an alert bystander. Good work!

  2. capt_cardor

    As a retired law enforcement officer I can tell you that you did the right thing. It is normal to feel embarrassed and awkward when we are faced by these “inconvenient” situations. Most New Yorkers try not to get involved, but actually most people would rather drive away than notify “the authorities” and then become subject to criticism later.

    The important thing is to overcome these feelings and to do what should be done.

    Good work!

  3. Cricket

    That was an SEP field (Someone Else’s Problem). Not many can even see them, let alone realize they could be a Problem. (Yes, Hitchhiker’s Guide really does make the long drive go faster.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Somebody_Else%27s_Problem

    (You did the right thing by calling attention to it.)

    1. Philangelus

      I love the SEP field.

      1. Cricket

        I’m guessing (if your kids are like mine) that there are many SEPs around the house.