I had to run out to the store tonight to pick up some things for our family outing tomorrow — I’ll be participating in the Rugged Maniac obstacle run. One of the errands I had to do was to fill up the minivan with gas for the trip.
I went to the convenience store/gas station just down the street from our neighborhood where I usually fill up at least once a week. As I pulled into the lot, I noticed it looked like the outdoor and inside lights were out. The sun wasn’t completely down yet, and although it was very cloudy and raining, the lights being out didn’t make the area black like at night, just dim. As I pulled up to the pumps next to the store, I saw a man standing just inside the glass door. He waved to tell me not to stop, and to move on. The man had on a red toboggan, and he wasn’t wearing the uniform the workers in the store usually have. I thought that was odd.
But I didn’t stop at the pumps, and just kept coasting through. I saw at the pumps farthest from the store was a big black pickup truck, and a man was standing behind it, with something in his hands pointing at the store. I was still driving through the lot, and the outdoor light was dim, and it was raining, so I couldn’t identify what the man was holding. But the whole scene just seemed very weird.
Sure, there are several explanations for why a 24-hour station might be closed, but taking in the strange bits all together, it made me suspicious. So instead of driving on home, I pulled into the car dealership lot next to the gas station, parked, and took out my phone. I called 911. The line rang more than six times before the operator answered. (I almost hung up before the answer.)
“911 – what is your emergency?”
“Well,” I started, “I’m not sure.” I described the scene and the men and how although I couldn’t say anything bad was definitely going on, it just seems suspicious.
The operator put me through to the local police department. When the police operator answered, I repeated my description, adding, “I just thought it might be a good idea to have an officer cruise through and make sure everything is okay.” The operator asked for my name and phone number, and although I gave both to him, I said there’s really no need to call me back because I won’t be at the location. (I was going to drive away after giving this phone report.)
The police operator said he’d send someone out to check it over. I hung up and drove on to another station to fill up with gas. I have no idea what was going down at that first station, and I probably will never know, although I’m terribly curious. I’ve called 911 a few times over my years to report a suspicious scene, and I’ve never heard the results of any investigation. I don’t need to hear back, as I’m just doing what I feel is my civic duty as a good citizen, but my mind always conjures up some really exciting scenario. And then my rational side waves that off and assures me that it was probably nothing sinister, just people going about some perfectly mundane activity — I probably wasted a cop’s time. But, even if so, I feel better for reporting something and having the police check it out rather than not reporting something and letting something bad possibly happen.
When I got home, I told Wifegrit and our sons what I saw and did. I figure it can serve as a good life lesson for the boys. When you see something that just gives you a gut feeling that something isn’t right, err on the side of caution and report it to authority. Who knows, someone doing that might save a life or something.