Encore: What Happened When I Found A Dead Woman In Panera's Parking Lot

Since I'm working on my memoir this week, I posting some of my favorite blogs from the past (for different reasons). Yesterday I posted a link to my first Christmas as a single mom and how I broke my foot on the day I bought the Christmas tree. Today, it's an encore from March 08, 2012. If I ever had to say what my blog was about, I might point someone to this story:

 What Happened When I Found A Dead Woman In Panera's Parking Lot

On my way to the studio, I like to grab a coffee right before I start work. Narrating starts at 8:30AM so that’s pretty early, and the warm coffee and caffeine jolt helps me. So today, I swung by Panera for my $1.75 cuppa joe.

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The parking lot was pretty full, but I found a spot. As I got out of my car, I noticed there was a woman in the parking lot sitting in her car. Then I realized that she wasn’t really sitting, she was slouching. And her car was running. And she was slouching back with her mouth wide open. Like, WIDE open, like zombie open…and I thought…holy shit. That woman is dead. She is dead in the parking lot of Panera Bread and what am I supposed to do?

I briefly thought of moving my car to another spot, and getting my coffee, and pretending I hadn’t witnessed her there like that, but I just couldn’t do it. What if she wasn’t totally dead, but NEARLY dead? I’d be responsible if I didn’t do something.


But first I needed to find out if she was totally dead, nearly dead, or just taking a nap. I mean, she could be taking a nap. So I did the only thing I could think of at the time. I stared at her. I stared and stared and stared at her, just willing her to breathe. If I saw she was breathing then I’d be fine and get my coffee and no one would know. If she wasn’t breathing then I’d…I don’t know…run into Panera and scream “THERE’S A DEAD WOMAN IN YOUR PARKING LOT AND CAN I HAVE A TALL HAZLENUT TO GO?”


I stared at her. For a long time. Like a really long time. I couldn’t tell if she was breathing or not. She was wearing a big red sweater and I couldn’t see her stomach moving. It slowly dawned on me. She was NOT breathing. I just found a dead woman in Panera’s parking lot and I was somehow responsible for her passing and what was I supposed to do and what about…SUDDENLY the woman jerked awake, saw me staring at her and SCREAMED.


I mean, if she wasn’t dead at the beginning, I probably gave her a heart attack. Imagine, there you are taking a quick little nap, you wake up, and immediately notice there’s a crazy chick with her face pressed up against your window STARING at you.


It was horrible. What could I do? How could I explain to her that I was only trying to save her life or make sure her loved ones knew she’d expired? I was being a good Samaritan, and not a Peeping Tom. You can’t explain that to a perfect stranger, so I just immediately turned and ran into Panera for my coffee.


I’m still embarrassed. I might just give up drinking coffee because I don’t EVER want to repeat that experience again. EVER.