In life there are confrontational people and there are people who hate confrontation. People who will back away from an argument, find themselves pretending to agree with something they disagree with, people who will get shaken and upset and maybe even cry if someone has a go at them. I am the latter person.
But there are some things worth fighting for. Sometimes the sheer selfishness, thoughtlessness and downright stupidity of people gets me angry. Particularly when that selfishness is threatening the safety, indeed the LIFE of others. Particularly when those others are children.
Yes, I’m talking about PARKING ON THE ZIGZAGS.
Every day, hundreds of people take their life into their hands near our school. And every day tens of people put their needs above the hundreds and park on the zigzags, block drives, chuck their kids out of the car while it’s still moving or they’re stopped at the lollipop lady, reverse without looking, pull out of spaces without looking, open doors without looking…
The sheer stupidity and selfishness of people is quite incredible.
Apparently our school is one of the worst in town and we do have the police and PCSOs out every now and then keeping an eye on things and issuing tickets. But it doesn’t get better, it just gets worse and this current school year is the worst it’s been in all the time I’ve been at the school (since 2005).
If I see a car parked on the zigzags or blocking someone’s drive, I take a picture on my phone so I can pass it on to the school. I’ve been doing this for a long time and will continue to do it. I’m not the only one either. I’m doing it for the safety of children.
Yesterday, as I snapped a car on the zigzags, another car raced in and pulled in front of the first car on the zigzags, so I snapped that one too. The mum ran out.
‘Did you take a picture of my car?’
‘Yes, you’re parked on the zigzags.’
‘But I’m late for my child,’ and she ran off through the gates.
So that makes it all OK does it? You’re late for your child so that gives you the right to break the law and put the safety of hundreds of kids at risk?
I thought that was the end of it. But as I walked home, she was waiting across the other side of the road talking to another parent (obviously slagging me off) and staring at me.
‘Why did you take a picture of my car?’
‘Because you were parked on the zigzags. You’re putting children’s safety at risk and you’re breaking the law.’
‘It was only for minute.’
‘A minute is all it takes to kill a child.’
‘But I was late. I work in an office, you know what it’s like when you work in an office.’
‘Well that’s not my problem and it’s not the problem of the children whose safety you are putting at risk. The police would fine you for parking there.’
I was SO angry. I was shaking. My blood was boiling.
She really couldn’t see that she’d done anything wrong. To the extent that she had deliberately waited for me after school so she could have a go at me. So I was angry at her thoughtlessness and stupidity and I was angry at her for yelling at me and dragging me into a confrontation. My first confrontation since I’ve had kids at the school.
I walked away. She drove slowly up and down my road several times. She obviously now knows where I live.
I got back and I emailed the head and site manager of the school, telling them what had happened – both the parking and the confrontation.
Then I ranted on twitter and, because you can’t say enough in 140 characters, and because I wanted to talk to people who understand the situation, I ranted on Facebook too.
Light the blue touch paper and step back…
I’d hit a nerve as I knew I would – people from our school and people from other schools. It’s a universal problem that everyone can relate to. And I’m pleased to say every single one of them thought I’d done the right thing.
It’s not fair that a selfish few parents think they are above the law and put children at risk, annoying the 95% of parents who park and drive safely. Many parents are in favour of naming and shaming (I didn’t tell them who this parent was, but she had moaned to one of them about me, so some people know), or at the very least publishing registration numbers on the school newsletter.
If parking is a problem at your school, take photos. Send them to the headteacher and the police. Only if they’re bombarded with photos will they realise the scale of the problem and maybe do something about it.
BEFORE A CHILD IS KILLED.