Dearest Knitting Diary, the following is a true tale of bullying, discrimination, and appalling inequity. Although I was stunned into inaction yesterday when it happened, the subsequent anger-aneurism boiling my blood hours later forced me to contemplate the close encounter once again. So, Diary, it comes to this: I am reduced to writing my wrath, as a way of leveling the playing field…
I was in the school parking lot 15 minutes before the release bell rang, ergo, at the very end of the school day. While the school’s field is large enough to land the Space Shuttle, the parking lot is inexplicably the smallness of an inner city Jack-in-the-Box. Naturally, 90% of the spaces are marked “staff”. But when the “staff” spots are vacant, especially in the last few minutes of the school day, it is fair game for a lowly parent to park there, and knit of course, while she waits. So, there I was, backed into a prime spot, knitting for Comicon. Comicon!!!! Along comes a brand new $50K Mercedes, dealer plates, passing by all of the vacant spots, driven by a teacher whom I recognize, only because my son has been a captive at this school since 2nd grade. (Mercifully, he is in fifth, and due to be ‘promoted’ to (gasp!) middle school this week.) Fool that I am, I smile and wave at the apparently affluent teacher because she is staring at me. I got a quick hot flash of shame for parking there, but then I thought of several factors: the bell is going to ring in a few minutes therefore I am allowed to park here; there are MANY other vacant “staff” spots still available to her; and since she just drove on campus with a parent in her passenger seat, she must have been off today (paid substitute). So, I return to my knitting.
Tap Tap Tap. “Hi, this is technically MY parking space since I am a teacher here, so I’m going to have to ask you to move.” Dumbfounded, stunned, and ashamed all over again, I pulled out, then backed up only 5 spaces, and parked in another “staff” spot, of which there were still at least 10 available. A spot she passed in her Benz when she was creeping up to me, but apparently not good enough for her. This is where reparations are actually due: I let loose a tirade that nearly deafened my teenager, who came along to pick up his little brother but became the only unwitting witness to this crime. It may have repercussions on his finals the next few days. He’s never heard those swears uttered by his mom before.
It was my Bell, California moment Diary: I was bullied by my own tax dollars. And when I think about it, the fact that my taxes pay for the teachers’ salaries (and judging by the Benz, slush funds as well), and with all of the (mandatory) volunteer work parents do at the public schools, does that not technically make us ‘staff’ also, even if indirectly? At least for the final 15 minutes of the third-to-last-day of school?
Now parked in steerage in my oh-so-ghetto economy car, paralyzed with rage and therefore unable to knit (it is a kind and gentle craft after all), I pondered the apparent caste system that was ruling the untouchables of the younger-generation teachers. In another glaring example of the dire need for education reform, we are slaves of our own machine: cushy, iron-clad pensions doled out whether or not performance reviews or good behavior earn it. Every year the teachers hand out flyers of protest, threaten strikes because of their hardship, and cry “Budget cuts!” but they remain, lose their manners, and drive luxury cars.
May God smite me with the pensions and security of a public school teacher’s plight, supported by an infinite stream of volunteer parents and union-bought politicians!!!
I tried to calm myself by remembering that my son’s outstanding fifth grade teacher, the most beloved in the school for merit and experience and kindness, drives a 30-year old VW Rabbit with probably 800,000 miles on it. By choice. There is still good in this world.
My teenager, ever the wise and drama-free presence in my life, admonished my overreaction (who, me?? Overreact??) and reiterated that it is, technically, a teacher’s spot. The he exited the car to go extract his brother from behind the ‘East Gate’.
Hmmm. He’s right of course. But why weren’t the other spots good enough for her? Why did she go out of her way to inconvenience and piss-off a parent (=taxpaying employer of public servants), as if I was loitering illegally? Why would anyone risk the inevitable and subsequent bad karma? How could she possibly have the countenance to be rude from behind the wheel of her new Mercedes, to bully me out of the spot, just because she could? Where is the love?
In order for me to move on, I must find a way to compartmentalize this encounter, embrace and accept some reasonable catalyst that triggered this incident. And since none of the aforementioned makes any sense at all, it must be that she saw me knitting, and was having none of it. Not in her parking lot, not during school hours (even though she was coming from off-site), and not as long as she had the power to stop it, even in the last few minutes of the school year. This was an act of blatant knitscrimination: She caught me knitting in a “staff” spot, was overcome with malevolence (or jealousy? or disgust?) based on her own past epic-fail with the craft, and used her uber-unionized, hyper-pensionated powers to oust me from her realm.
Makes more sense than an employee calling caste rank on her employer, right?
Knit well and prosper! And you shall accrue good karma!