Wednesday, August 8, 2007

In which our hero almost becomes an agent of Darwin

I was late to work Monday. Part of my commute takes me past a Church and its parking lot. As I approached the parking lot, I saw a group of kids playing with kick balls and one lone, distracted adult apparently pretending to supervise them.

By reflex, I slowed down to about 20 miles an hour. This is just something I do when I see kids on the side of the road. This proved to be a good reflex, as in short order one of the kids bounced her kickball into the street. I screamed at the kid to "Stop" as I slammed on my brakes.

The woman screamed "No, it's going into the street!" but the kid was already darting in front of me to retrieve her ball.

I screeched to a halt stopping inches from the kid.

The woman came up and slammed the palm of her hand against my car's hood and started screaming at me , using phrases like "Driving like a maniac" and "You nearly killed my niece!"

My first impulse was to let her vent. After all, a kid in her care had nearly been run over, so she had good reason to be upset. After a few minutes, I tired of her verbal abuse.

I leaned out my window, and she backed away as if I'd threatened to hit her. Mustering all my self control I said as calmly as I could, "I was driving UNDER the speed limit, and it looks like I was paying more attention to those kids," I pointed at the parking lot, "than you were."

She continued to yell at me, more and more profanity creeping into her tirade. The child had long since reached the rest of the group, and most of then were watching her scream at me, some laughing.

The woman stepped forward again, raising her arm as if to hit my car again.

"What the HELL are you doing?" I said.

She looked shocked.

"Listen" I said, "If I'd been speeding, if I'd been going the damn Speed Limit, I wouldn't have been able to stop in time. I'd slowed down because I assumed you were an incompetent hag who can't babysit a spider plant and you proved me right. Now get back to those kids and WATCH them until a GROWN UP shows up to take over."

"You fuc-"

"And watch your language, there are kids around."

By this point she'd backed away from my car.

I called out the window, "Is there anything in front of my car?"


"Have any of the kids you're supposed to be watching wandered in front of my car?"

"No," she said.

I put my car in gear and pulled away, going very slow for the first couple car lengths in case any other kids decided to get in my way.

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