Very close to my house, there is a Magical Stop Sign. No really, ask around. I don’t make this stuff up. It’s a very special sign. You see, it’s disguised as a perfectly ordinary stop sign. I mean, it’s got all the details right. It’s your basic octagon, it’s red and standard height. It even has a limit line, a crosswalk AND (wait for it) huge white letters painted on the street in front of it which read, “STOP”. If you didn’t know better you’d think you were supposed cease all forward motion.
You’d be wrong. Turns out, boy, did I have that one screwed up. Imagine my surprise watching people NOT stop, they don’t even hit the brakes, in some instances they actually accelerate. I’m not sure how they know, the Special People, I mean. How do they know that this stop sign is the Magic One? That’s a puzzle. I have some theories, of course, one usually does.
Perhaps the Magic Stop Sign is emitting a ESP pulse and only the Special People can hear it. It whispers, “Go. You don’t have to stop. This isn’t meant for you. Cuz’, you’re special.” Or maybe the Magic Stop Sign is from outer space and written on it, in ink my puny earth eyes can’t read, are instructions to the Special People telling them to move on through. Of course, this would mean the Special People are aliens. (Honestly, that would explain a lot.) Ooh, ooh, I know, the Special People are wizards and there’s a trap, or a curse, or something on the Stop Sign. So, to avoid the trap they need to speed through it. Drat, that must mean I’m a Muggle. Tragic.
Maybe I’m being silly, it’s probably not magic, merely mundane. I bet I missed a memo, or an email. Was there something about it on Facebook?
Alright, alright, I know. It’s not magic, darn it. It’s just perfectly nice, reasonable people going a tinsy, weensy bit insane for a little while… every day. Let me elaborate.
Okay, I’m really going to show my age with this next part but hey, such is life and besides, I like my age. It’s a good way of keeping score. Every year I add to my grand total shows I was able to dodge, duck and otherwise triumph. What’s that they say on Survivor? Outwit, outplay, outlast? Words to live by, my friend, err, literally.
Where was I?
Right, showing my age. I can remember being in fourth grade in Clovis, California at Jefferson Elementary sitting in the cafeteria/multi purpose room for school assemblies. Sometimes they would have us watch movies, usually educational ones, films with a purpose. I always liked when they played the Disney ones. (Remember Jiminy Cricket, “I play safe for you and me ’cause I’m no fool”? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Udk1S93KGc4 If you know the words, please, feel free to sing along.)
One of the short films that was included in a safety assembly was called Motor Mania. You can see it on Youtube and it’s still funny. Here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hk-c5jlk48s , just a head’s up, there is about twenty seconds of credits at the beginning then it’s all Goofy.
You may be sitting at your computer, tres confusado (I know, I just butchered three, count them three, languages with that phrase) as you try to puzzle out what Goofy has to do with the Magic Stop Sign. Work with me, people. As parents we are hardwired to be careful and cautious with our children. We purchase helmets, carseats, shinguards, the works. We take them to school and carefully drop them off as we remind them to be good, turn in their homework and to try and find that sweatshirt they lost last week. To illustrate how the parents look as they drop their children off here is a picture of Goofy in the role of Mr. Walker from Motor Mania.
When Goofy, or in this case the parents, walks somewhere or first gets in his car he is a lovely, caring, considerate individual. He is patient and sensitive to the needs of others. Likewise the parents I see daily are driving like sensible people, at first.
I’m not precisely sure what the exact factor is that flips the switch. Somehow as people leave the school and their minds shift on to the next thing they need to do, get to work, grocery store, run home and eat bon-bon’s, they forget about the rest of us. Perhaps they don’t care, who knows? All I know is that I’m still trying to get my kids safely to or from school and Mr. (or Ms.) Wheeler has almost plowed us over more times than I can count. It’s pretty flipping terrifying each time, too.
Why don’t they stop?
It’s not just that they don’t stop. Parents regularly speed in the parking lot and go the wrong way on a one-way aisle. My personal favorite are the future Darwin Award candidates who text while they drive through the school parking lot as it is absolutely crawling with small children. Can you say “tragedy waiting to happen”? We’re talking Shakespearian proportions here, folks.
The fact that this stop sign is a Magic Stop Sign really makes me wonder what else I’ve been missing. I mean, are the rules that I’ve been living my life by like the Code in Pirates of the Caribbean? You know, “more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules“. What other seemingly absolute rules do I get to break? Run with scissors? Drink Nyquil and operate heavy machinery? Fight a land war in Asia? Go against a Sicilian when death is on the line? Oops, I just switched movies, but the point stands.
So my plea is simple… please stop at the stop sign when you take your kids to school… and don’t drive like a maniac… and stop texting… oh yes, and please, whatever you do try NOT to kill me and my kids as we try to negotiate the couple hundred feet that separate us from the campus.
Thank you very much. No, I mean it, thank you.