The other day, I drove across town to deliver my daughter to soccer practice.
I parked in the parking lot, tied my daughter’s cleats in double-knots and chided myself for my failure to teach her to tie her shoes. I keep meaning to do that but somehow never remember when we’re at home and have a closet full of shoes with laces to practice upon. I will probably remember to teach her to tie her shoes on the same day I remember to start teaching her piano lessons.
My daughter opened the van door and scooted out with her soccer ball. At the same time, a woman knocked at the driver’s side window and I rolled my window down, happy to chat with another soccer mom.
Only she was not a soccer mom. She was the self-appointed Monitor of the Stop Sign at the Corner of the Park and she was irate.
She said something like this, all in one breath:
You did not even stop at the stop sign! You rolled right through and YOU! DID! NOT! EVEN! STOP! You are a mother! There are children at this park! And you did not even stop! You need to be careful! You have to stop!
She was a mishmash of judgment and sorrow and fury and busybody and I was so shocked that this woman jogged from the corner of the park, down and around the sidewalk and across the parking lot to confront me about my poor driving skills that I just greeted her outrage with slack-jawed puzzlement. I said nothing. She jogged away carrying her burden of self-righteousness while I rolled up the window.
I wonder if yelling at me was satisfying for her.
To be honest, I don’t set out to break the law and I don’t normally disregard stop signs with wild abandon. After this odd parking lot confrontation I tried to recall exactly what happened at that corner. Did I stop? Did I roll through after slowing down since there were no cars at the corner? Did I even know there was a stop sign? Was I distracted? What happened, exactly? Should I be arrested and thrown into jail for my recklessness?
I don’t know.
But I do know that when I walked through the intersection a little later with my dog, I noticed at least five cars slowing and rolling through the stop signs before turning into the park. So I am not alone in my criminal behavior.
Not that five wrongs make a right. Clearly I don’t want to ignore stop signs.
But that woman? The outraged jogger who chased me down to yell at me in front of my child? She is not my mother and it was really weird for her to scold me.
For the record, I have never run over anyone while driving. I’ve never had an accident and it’s been 20 years since I’ve had a traffic ticket.
But you can be sure I will never roll through that particular stop sign again, lest the wrath of the woman who is not my mother explode in my general direction again.