I noticed something ridiculous today (besides yet another crusty looking hand towel). On my way home from work I passed several cars going the opposite direction and for whatever reason I looked at the drivers. Two of the first three had their mouths wide open. The third, a broad smile, like maybe she’d just won the lottery and was driving to claim her prize. After that, it became an obsession. I looked at each passing vehicle and realized that driving makes you look like an idiot. In addition to gaping mouths and silly smirks, I saw a few furrowed brows and scowls, someone gazing off into a corn field, and one guy behind the wheel of a pickup that I swear looked like he was clapping like he was gearing up to get down the fiddle and bow. Hands on the wheel, buddy!
The lesson here? Be aware of your facial expressions at all times. If you don’t mind looking like that pink thing that shoots eggs at Mario and his friends in Mario Brothers 2, go ahead and sing. Angry? From where the other driver sits, you just look constipated. So smile. But not too much. You don’t want to look like a lunatic.
(And why I don’t look like the cute pink guy shooting eggs from Super Mario 2.)
Yep, I’m that angry guy.
We moved to a new school district a year and a half ago. I like the school. It has an excellent rating, the staff is friendly, and the community is involved in school activities. I have no doubt my children will be getting a great education. There is one problem…… the drop-off and pick-up area is a disaster. The school is new and situated a distance from the road. There is a single drive to the building. During pick-up and drop-off, there is always a line of vehicles down the drive. The drive goes up to the school, takes a left turn and runs along the front of the school. To leave, another left is made to the adjacent parking lot and back out to the drive. This would be a great idea if most drivers had common sense.
At the beginning of the year a newsletter comes out and a portion of it explains the procedure for picking up and dropping off students. The same speech is also given at the PTO meeting prior to the first day of school. Vehicles are to pull up as far as possible to allow cars behind them the opportunity to also pull up. This would make the process more efficient. There is an extensive sidewalk along the entire front of the school. The idea is for children to utilize the sidewalk so multiple cars can be loading or unloading at the same time. This never happens. In the morning, every other car stops directly in front of the front door so their children won’t have to walk. There is ample room to pull up beyond the front doors but people must think it may cause harm to ask students to walk a small distance to the door. If I have the opportunity to pull forward, I do it hoping others will follow. That never works. In the afternoon, the kids find their way to the waiting cars and that sometimes speeds up the process. The problem in the afternoon is the one car that parks in the loading area. They also refuse to pull forward and this causes problems. Other drivers are unaware that the vehicle in front of them will not be moving and after waiting, they put their car in reverse so they can leave and allow others to pull forward. With kids walking around the loading area, this is concerning. Bad weather makes all of this worse. Last year I had to call the school and explain why my son was tardy. It was a rainy day and because of the increased traffic, it took twenty minutes to reach the front door. I learned to leave my house no later than twenty five minutes before school starts and I live in town.
It have learned to tolerate this disfunctional process but today, I couldn’t take it anymore. At pick-up one woman decided to park three cars in front of me. There were several cars waiting behind me. The line was not moving. When one of the two cars in front of me put their car in reverse, I knew it was another parked car causing the slow down. I pulled up behind the parked car. My son came and got in my vehicle. On the way out, I rolled down my window and told her she may want to rethink parking where she had because it was hard to get around her. I also pointed out that there were several cars waiting behind her to pick up children. The woman looked shocked. I didn’t yell and I wasn’t angry, I clearly told her what others may have been afraid to say, or at least pointed out what her common sense didn’t. I passed her and saw the superintendent in front of the building. He knows me and he knows what I drive because of the special circumstances with my special needs child. I guess he will know who to contact if he gets a complaint.
I immediately felt remorse as I knew the kids arguing in the car and the stress of my day probably pushed me over the edge and prompted me to say something. I realized I had not considered her circumstances. She was smoking and seemed to be casually waiting but I shouldn’t have assumed anything. This sums up my life. I believe I have a great deal of tolerance for many things. When I have finally had my fill of some sort of injustice, I speak up and fill with regret. I worry if I hurt someone’s feelings and it really upsets me to think I could have made someone cry. I admit that I am a bit intolerant of other drivers and I have liberally used my horn to vent my frustrations. I recently aired my grievances when another driver became impatient and narrowly squeezed between my vehicle and a mail truck. In those moments, I don’t feel as bad but I still worry. After watching drivers for over a year use very little common sense when negotiating an area full of cars and children, I had reached my boiling point. I now know that I must keep my frustrations under control in the future before I earn myself a reputation for being the crazy parent who yells at other parents from my vehicle.
I imagine everyone has their weaknesses. I am pretty sure mine is not other drivers as much as the notion of people who do not consider anyone but themselves. Maybe that is why today bothered me and why it bothers me every time I speak up, I don’t want to turn into one of those people. To make up for it, my husband suggested I do something kind for someone else. I think the world would be a much better place if we all spread a little kindness first. I think I will need a lot of practice spreading that kindness behind the wheel. I am sure other drivers will continue to give me plenty of opportunities to practice restraint.