Monday, July 06, 2015

A Parable from a Parking Lot

Last week, Pumpkin moved back to our usual YMCA camp, after spending the first two weeks of summer break doing a gymnastics camp at a different local Y. She says she prefers our usual YMCA for camp, and I do, too, mostly because traffic is so much less of an issue when we are at that camp. Pumpkin doesn't care so much about the traffic, but says she gets more playground time at her usual camp, and the "spirit activities" aren't as annoying.

There is one thing that is more annoying at our usual camp, though: the exit from the parking lot. To leave the parking lot, you make a right turn onto a fairly busy road. Meanwhile, there is a line of cars waiting to either turn left into the parking lot or make a U turn and go into the next parking lot (which is reserved for people going to the Y to workout, not do camp drop off or pick up). Sometimes, the people waiting to make a U turn get impatient, because at peak drop off or pick up time, there is a fairly steady stream of cars trying to get out of our parking lot, preventing them from making a U turn even when there is a break in oncoming traffic. And sometimes, when they get impatient, they do questionable things, like make their U turn while someone else is turning left, thereby almost hitting the car coming out of the parking lot.

Last Monday morning, I came very close to having an accident with a man in a blue BMW
The car looked a lot like this. (Image credit)
convertible. Luckily for both of us, I saw what he was doing in time and slammed on my brakes. Luckily for me, this did not get me rear-ended by the next person trying to get out of the parking lot before the traffic light down the street changed and we all lost our window of opportunity.

I'll admit that I said some not very nice things about the man in the blue BMW as I drove away.

From the glare he gave me as he turned, I suspect he said some not very nice things about the people dropping off their kids at camp and making it hard for him to get his morning workout. I suspect he hates the camp season. I had the right of way and I didn't even honk my horn at him. Why else would he be glaring?

Once the adrenaline was all out of my system, I realized that we were both blaming the wrong thing (each other) and letting the real problem (inadequate infrastructure for the traffic in and out of that parking lot at peak times) off the hook.

Later that week, I watched a fight play out in my Twitter stream between two groups of women. One woman had tweeted something that another woman felt was demeaning towards women who do not have kids, and it kind of snowballed from there into a strange and yet familiar argument about whether mothers or women who do not have kids get more shit from society.

And it occurred to me that this was the exact same dynamic as what happened between me and the guy in the blue BMW.

I know this isn't a profound observation, or even a novel one. But dammit, I wish we could learn to stop yelling at each other and focus instead on the real problem of a society in which there is literally not a single way to be a woman without catching shit for it.

On a somewhat related note, I fully intend to keep using my natural speech mannerisms like "just" and "sorry," and this post from a linguist explains why. There is only so much tightrope balancing I can do.

But I also swear that I will not judge any woman who does manage to eliminate "just" and "sorry" and all those mannerisms. After all, how other women talk is not the real problem here.

1 comment:

  1. Or blaming Title IX for dropping men's baseball when it's really the fact that men's football takes so much $,$$$,$$$. They could run a college baseball team for less than what they pay one assistant football coach, but they blame women's sports anyway.


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