Saturday, January 8, 2011

Rural Town Rectification

Rural Town is my hometown. I didn't really like growing up here, largely because I didn't like how everyone was always in everyone's business. For teenagers, who often don't want people to know what they're doing, a small town is not a fun place to be. For parents, it's wonderful. "It takes a village to raise a child" really rings true in a small town, where people tend to watch out for other people's children. It didn't happen often, but there were enough times that I got in trouble because one of my parents' friends saw me misbehaving and called them to make me happy to move to a Big City.

Now I'm back, as a parent and with nothing to hide, and I love Rural Town. Of course, being a parent in Rural Town has forced me (or should I say allowed me?) to become involved in Rural Town Rectification. I got my first opportunity this week.

Son had forgotten his gloves and needed them for an outdoor gym class. So, I drove in to bring them to him. The roads haven't been great because of the snow, and there is one spot about a half mile from Rural Town where houses on both sides of the road keep the wind from clearing things out. I always slow down when I get there. About that time, I saw in the rear view mirror that a pickup was right on my tail. The road wasn't too bad on my side of the road, so I sped up to 60 mph. The pickup whipped around me into the snow packed lane and got back into the correct lane just in time to slow down for the 4-way stop on the edge of town. There was another car in front of him, so by the time he got to turn, I was at the stop sign myself. I couldn't believe someone would do something so dangerous! And what did it gain him? Nothing!

I followed him as he fishtailed around a corner and then pulled in and parked at the school. I drove in right behind him, parked at the curb by the front door and waited for him to get out so I could see who he was. He seemed to take forever to get out of the truck! I didn't recognize him, so I went inside. After I gave Son's gloves to one of the women in the school office, the driver finally walked by. I asked them his name, but didn't recognize him or his parents (after 20 years of living Elsewhere, I no longer know everyone). I told the ladies what had happened, and one of them asked, "Do you want to talk to him? I'll call him up to the office!"

"Yes," I found myself nodding in agreement.

I waited outside the office for him to return, planning what I would say. The most important thing, I figured, was to make sure I didn't yell like some crazy person.

When he got there, I told him I was the person he'd passed half a mile out of town. I told him what he'd done was reckless and irresponsible. I told him that he gained nothing by passing me so close to town, since I pulled into the parking lot right behind him. I told him that road is dangerous, and that a high school student once hit a school bus on it, killing himself and injuring several other students. And I asked how old he is--17--and told him that he's old enough to know better. (Maybe a compliment will help the idea of responsibility to sink in better.)

To his credit, he was respectful, and didn't offer a load of excuses. Just that he was running late. I wish I'd thought at the time of the way he sauntered so slowly from the truck to the school building. If he'd just run across the lot, he'd have made up more time than he did in his dangerous passing maneuver!

I ran into the lady from the school office last night. She told me that the young man asked her who I was. She told him, but also let him know he was lucky I chose to talk to him myself rather than call the police.

We don't need to bother the police with a matter like this. We have Rural Town Rectification.

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