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Living Counter-Intuitively

photo of vehicle traffic around a school

Parents driving their children to school? They might already know better how to reduce school traffic.*

One afternoon, following a student leader meeting at an elementary school, I took a stroll, amongst the conga line of waiting chauffeurs. Just before the dismissal bell, a parent once explained 'it' to me:

“If we’re in a rush, I park a block away.
But if we’re in a BIG rush, I park two blocks away!“

With her car sitting in the queue along the “No Stopping” Drop-Off Zone, she had time to leave her vehicle and chat with me by the front door. Apparently, today was not one of her busy days.

Naturally, she was in full support of the work I was doing at the school: supporting student engagement in a walk & bike to school program. It offered youth leadership, skill-building, health, green-living, etc. etc. …and quite possibly, less traffic.

It’s just crazy to see so many parents driving children to school here…”, she whined to me.

What?! ...wait a minute??

Maybe I couldn’t hear properly over the clanging of her charm bracelet of a key-chain, but this driver was complaining about the traffic spread out in front of us while spinning car keys around her finger?

…her monologue could not have been any more absurd…

Although violence is never the answer, my imagination went to some day-dream sequence in a movie to have the other actor reach across -rolled-up Walk To School student leadership workbook in hand- and smack the top of her head like Cher in Moonstruck: "Snap out of it! Your car in that line IS the problem you’re complaining about!"

Of course I didn’t do anything of the sort.

How do you talk, in the moment, about the logic of parents who drive their children to school, complaining about other parents who drive their children to school?

How do you begin to engage a parent who sees an incomplete picture of what’s in front of them? ...who doesn’t recognize the potential damage behind their best intentions? Yet, who on their busiest days, has the awareness to walk two blocks to avoid the traffic jam in front of the school. Like, why not do that on the days when they aren't busy?

Seriously, dear reader - how do YOU engage with parents about this?

So, what did I say to that woman who complained to me about school traffic?

“Well, ya know, I’d guess that walk away from this stress (cue the Vanna White arm sweep) would be even more enjoyable on a day like today when you're not in a great rush. You'd get more time to chat with your kids and hear about their day..."

“Oh ya, we do that.” She replied.

I wonder…

* an updated revisit to an old blog post from years ago


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