Slice of Life: Oh … Behave!


(This is part of the Slice of Life Challenge with Two Writing Teachers. We write about small moments each and every day for March. You come, too. Write with us.)

After spending a day with antsy 12 years olds whose outdoor activity during the day has been curtailed by a lingering winter cold front and who spent almost three hours, silent and mostly focused, while working on their state reading assessment, I was happy to see the buses roll out of the lot and head home yesterday.

First, I had to pick up my son from his after-school band rehearsal — he is a rather reluctant percussionist — and I pulled into the loop a few minutes early, thinking I would read a magazine in the quiet of the van. But outside my window, something else ensued as two mothers almost went to fisticuffs over something … so … stupid.

Let me set the stage with my journalistic hat on my head:

A few cars are in the loop. More are coming. There is car on the other side of the loop from me, parked just fine, when another car pulls up in front of it, and then reverses to get a little closer, in order to make room for other cars in front of it. I think nothing of it. We all do that — make room for others.

The woman in the first car — let’s called her Lady Z — suddenly jumps out, and raps on the window of the woman in the second car in the front — Lady Q — and says, quite loudly, “You’re too close. Move it forward.”

I look over now. Lady Q’s car is fine. There’s plenty of room for Lady Z to pull out. I go back to my magazine until I hear Lady Q get out of her car. Uh oh, I think.

“What?” Q says, now looking at the two cars. She points. “There’s plenty of room. Are you telling me you can’t turn your wheel and get out with that amount of space? What kind of driver are you?”

Lady Z pauses. “Move your car. If I pull out and hit your car, it’s all your fault. That’s what I will tell the police.”


Now I’m watching, wondering if I am going to have to jump out of the van in a minute and break it up. Really, all I want is a few minutes of quiet and my magazine.

I can see Lady Q fuming. “Move your car,” Lady Z says and heads back into her car. Lady Q goes into her car, and starts up the engine. Instead of pulling forward, though, she slowly, slowly, slowly inches backwards until her bumper is a mere half-inch from the bumper of Lady Z’s car. There’s no getting out now. Lady Q shuts down the engine, jumps out of her car and raps on Lady Z’s window.

“How about now?” she yells, a smile on her face. “Can you get out now? Don’t you dare tell me how to park my car. Don’t you dare tell me what to do,” and then she pulls out her cell phone, and makes a call to someone. She circles Lady Z’s car like a vulture, talking all the time to an invisible person.” …. I don’t know who she thinks she is …. here is her license number … let her try to call the cops on me …”

As she rounds the driver’s side of the car in her wagon circling, Lady Q glares at Lady Z, who does not leave her car. Now, I wonder, what will happen if Lady Z’s child comes out from band and they need to leave? Luckily, Lady Q’s child emerges from the school first, and they take off, leaving plenty of space for Lady Q to get the hell out of there without another word.

It was like being in the classroom, watching immature sixth graders fight over the space between their desks, and all I want to say is: Really? This is how you spend your energy? Behave.

Peace (please),

  1. Oh. This was too real :-). “Behave” yes. Sometimes I wonder what people are thinking, I can imagine a mom being a bit stressed about something, anxious she won’t be able to get out of her spot, even if there is plenty of room. . .annoying/overreactive maybe, undiplomatic for sure. Deserving of hatefulness and scare tactics not so much. glad the kids weren’t out for this!

  2. Ugh… just ugh. I know there are days when I FEEL like busting with anger and frustration… but I’m a grownup!

    What happened to being a good example?

  3. Kevin There are way too many parents who do not seem to have emotionally matured past the stage of early adolescent behavior and sometimes those who are even developmentally younger when it comes to dealing with people or resolving conflicts.

  4. From a distance, this seems amusing. I am sure I would have had my phone at the ready so I could call the police if they had actually started something. But you are right: Like two grade-school children fighting over the inch of space between their desks. In my last class, I put the three “my space” vigilantes in a group together to give the rest of the class a break. It was annoying and amusing and ultimately instructive to watch them sort it out amongst themselves! I hope they learned something.

  5. For a moment I had to check to see whether you live in New Jersey, Kevin, because hat kind of stuff happens every five seconds here. Rude and immature parents who pass these traits along to their kids….sad.

  6. We had an ‘incident’ almost like that a few weeks ago, I was told, with parents picking up. One parent did hit another because she wouldn’t wait for a ‘snarl’ to become ‘unsnarled’. How awful to think that those parents “parent”. Sorry you didn’t get a nice, quiet magazine article read.

  7. OK…I agree, crazy…bad day…I have to say I love that you used the word fisticuffs in a slice. I’m jealous!!! 🙂

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