July 1, 2009: Great mystery of running engines


To The Editor:
Thank you Diane Galusha for your letter about your pet peeve: cars left parked with their engines idling. It’s one of my pet peeves. I live in a first floor apartment and am sometimes subjected to the smell of parked vehicles with their engines idling.
My neighbors know enough to turn off their parked cars’ engines, but visitors often leave cars and delivery trucks parked with their engines idling. That means I have to close my windows and sweat in the warm weather or breathe the fumes.
Why do people park and leave their engines idling? One of the great mysteries of the world. Forgetfulness? Lazi-ness—too much trouble to turn the ignition key? Or do they think the engine is a life-support system and if they turn it off they will die?
One woman in New York City learned the hard way to turn off her car’s engine. She left her car parked with the engine idling while she went into a shop for just a few minutes. When she returned, her car was gone, stolen—with her infant baby in the rear seat. The thief apparently soon saw the baby and abandoned the car a short distance away, where it was found by the police, the baby safe.
Hey, drivers, turn off your parked car’s engines unless you can find some good reason to leave them idling. But I can’t think of any.

David Ivins,