A series of events occurring the past two months has caused me to question, “What are people thinking?” Singularly none of these happenings would warrant a column on human behavior. Collectively they cause me to question some folks’ decision-making skills.
The first event came at Douglas MacArthur Elementary School one brisk October morning. Despite posted metal traffic signs, repeated principal pleas, PTA notices, backpack mail and more, parents driving their children to this school continue to pull u-turns on Janneys Lane and deposit their children in MacArthur’s bus bay. On this morning, the reading specialist assigned to “bus duty” and I were discussing how many parents disregard the signs and continue to break the law. Almost as if on cue, not one, but two cars barreled into the bay. When reminded that parents are not to pull into the bay, one parent launched into a tirade about how bad her day had been already and that she is not a frequent offender. She then barely missed backing into the other offender as she roared off in anger about being confronted. The incident caused me to pause and think, “What are you thinking?” (Along with my own private thoughts about how much worse her day would have gotten had she smashed the car behind her.) Not even two short days later I witnessed a driver heading west on King Street stop their car in the middle of morning rush-hour traffic, just short of the bus entrance to T.C. Williams High School. The driver proceeded to let two teenage girls out on the yellow line separating traffic. While cars, trucks and buses whizzed up and down King Street in both directions, the girls had to figure out how to get across the lanes of traffic and over to the sidewalk in front of the school. In my wildest dreams I could not believe what I was seeing. All I could think was, “What are you thinking?”
Or the public school bus driver who nearly ran me over because she failed to look both ways while pulling out of T.C. on a clear and sunny late morning. “What are you thinking?” I wondered as I pounded on her door so I would not be killed. Is anybody thinking?
But the straw that broke the camel’s back happened to my daughter while referring youth soccer. Now that the Alexandria youth soccer season over, I feel free to write about this without fear of reprisal for Mimi. Fortunately for her, I happened to arrive 30 minutes early to retrieve her from a Sunday afternoon, three-game, U10 boys’ soccer game stint on TC’s turf football field, with football boundaries crisscrossing the lines of the soccer field.
During games two and three, male parents on certain teams harassed her about line calls, slide tackles and penalty shot decisions. Mimi is a 13 year-old-girl! Yes, she is paid for referring and yes, she took a class. And yes, she signs up to referee. But somewhere along the way someone forgot to tell these grown men (and sadly one offender was a coach) that this is recreation league U10 soccer — not a tournament, not playoffs and certainly not the Olympics. Mimi did not sign up to be yelled at and humiliated by grown men. She got in the car after the games and burst into tears. My heart broke for her. Once again, I was thinking, “What are you thinking?”
I know there are lots of good things happening in the world and we fail to point them out as quickly as incidents that are of a negative nature. I also know that none of us are perfect and without fault. Most likely that is why the Bible perfectly states, “Forgive us for what we have done and what we have left undone.”
However, at some point as a community must bring situations such as these to public notice in hopes that people will start thinking. It’s not all about time, being right or ourselves. It’s about civility, common courtesy and plain good manners. Our kids are watching. And if they fail to notice, there are a few of us out here who do.
The writer is a mother of five and wife of one, who runs her own business in Alexandria.