On two mornings a week I walk Eddy to school. Normally it’s pretty uneventful – he zig zags in front of me on his scooter, I try not to get annoyed and we both have great fun guessing what the day’s temperature is going to be on the big digital thermometer in the village centre.
Today’s walk was a slightly different kettle of fish though. It started much the same as usual, we got to the village centre and I won the temperature competition (7 degrees brrrrrrr) but as we walked up the street that the school is on I heard a car horn pap. I stopped and looked, thinking that it might be someone I know. In the car sat a woman who I didn’t recognise but she stuck her thumb up at me and smiled. How strange, I thought, but as I didn’t know her I began to carry on walking with Eddy.
At which point, the car accelerated and pulled directly in front of us and onto the driveway of the nursery that’s opposite the school, forcing us to stop in our tracks and watch in bewilderment as it narrowly missed us. And for once in my life I was momentarily speechless.
‘Mum, why did that lady pap at us?’ asked Eddy.
‘Oh, it was just to warn us that she was about to run over our toes.’ I replied lightly and left it there.
Except that I didn’t leave it there.
I waved Eddy off, crossed back over the road and saw that the woman was still there, sorting out her children and bags and checking her tyres for any evidence of body parts that she might have collected when she’d driven past us.
‘Were you in a bit of rush just then?’ I called over to her. I kept my tone light but anger was really bubbling away inside of me.
She walked towards me and smiled. ‘You were hesitating,’ she replied, ‘I wasn’t sure if you were stopping or going.’
Of course I’d bloody hesitated – she’d papped at me as I was walking, causing me to stop and see what was going on! Negotiating a street full of children on scooters, people pushing pushchairs and little toddlers walking slowly is always going to be a stop/start affair, so I wasn’t exactly walking at top speed but I certainly hadn’t stopped to let her push her car in because I get absolutely fed up with the complete disregard a lot of drivers have for pedestrians during the school run and I make a point of not giving them priority.
I didn’t say any of this of course, I was too wound up to think on my feet and the best I could come up with was:
‘Papping your horn at me doesn’t make me stop so that you can go. This is a right of way you know.’ (I really need to brush on the Highways and Byways Act so I can come up with something better next time).
At which point, her smile dropped.
‘You were stopping….’ she retaliated, ‘…Listen…You….Oh, just shut up you silly cow!’ And with that she flounced off and into the nursery.
I don’t like confrontation, I’m not the type to engage in a verbal slanging match in the middle of the street – I’m normally as passive aggressive as they come and this isn’t a trait that I admire in myself. There’s just no reasoning with some people, especially when they can’t see that they’ve done anything wrong and I think this is partly what stops me from saying something a lot of the time. Oh, and I don’t want to get stabbed.
But I’ve seen a car reverse out of that nursery driveway far too fast and almost knock a small child down in the past. I’ve also seen cars bomb down the road without so much as thinking of slowing down for children trying to cross over. Eddy was standing next to the road when that car pulled in front of us and it was the thought of something happening to him as a result of her thoughtlessness that really angered me.
Sometimes passive aggression isn’t always the answer and it’s not sufficient just to sit back and vent my anger in writing. Sometimes you have no choice but to challenge things publicly and although I might not have said much, it was enough for me. Sometimes a silly cow has to grab the bull by the horns and make a stand, however small it might be!