Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow ... Okay it can stop now

Two snow days in a row.  Ugh.  Yesterday was a complete mess.  We ended up with gridlock at Nathan's school as parents stopped to pick up their kids and ended up blocking the entire road.  (We sat hemmed in by minivans for over twenty minutes.)

In retrospect, it was an interesting balance of social awareness.  The school is on a standard two lane residential road.  With the snowbanks and minimal plowing, there was not enough room for more than one car to pass if anyone stopped on the side of the road.  If two cars stop, one going each way, the road was plugged.

Now, we all understand that we are all trying to pick up our kids and that it is a difficult and tricky situation.  People were having to walk on the road because the sidewalks were still buried (past chin height on some of the littler kids) and cars were everywhere, which mean drivers had to be constantly aware that a pedestrian might dash out between the cars at any moment.

One van stopped in front of the school and was waiting for the family's children to come.  Unfortunately, those kids were running late.  Now, most cars were circling.  If the kids weren't out front, then they would drive around the block to make another pass, thus keep the whole system creakily moving.  This van decided to stop and wait, opposite an empty car whose owner had obviously gone onto the school lot to pick up their child.  Immediate gridlock.

If it had only been for a few minutes, people probably would have understood.  But as time ticked on, people got more ticked off.  You could see parents getting out of their cars to figure out where the blockage was, muttering to themselves and passersby.  But it took almost twenty minutes before tempers flamed to the point that someone approached the blocking van.

This is one of the things which bothers me.  People won't approach someone who is doing something inconsiderate or mildly offensive until they've reached such a boiling point that all hopes of a polite and productive interaction are gone.  The person in the van was being inconsiderate, but didn't deserve to be yelled at by three or four other people.  (I was five cars down with the engine running and windows up and I could still hear them shouting.)  Since my kids and other people with autism are unlikely to pick up on the more subtle social cues or even be aware of the social protocols, they are likely to get more than their fair share of frustrated shouting.

Maybe I'm not aware of the whole story.  Maybe people had politely gone and asked the driver to move or pointed out that he or she was causing a major blockage.  Maybe that driver was picking up a handicapped student and couldn't risk having them stand out in the cold.  (The school driveway was blocked by a couple of cars which had gotten stuck in the snow.)  Maybe there were good reasons on everyone's side for why they acted the way they did.  But it certainly didn't play out in a pleasant fashion.

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