Meet the principal : Sample Story

Parking Lot Fight

Sarah Thomas arrived at Back to School Night late. She was unable to find a place to park in the school parking lot. Not wanting to park down the street, making her even later to the classroom, she looked around and saw a small Honda Civic. The owner of that car was probably also in a classroom and would be coming out at the same time. She could hurry out and be gone by the time they wanted to leave. Figuring it would be okay to double-park; she pulled her car up behind the blue Honda and hustled off to her son’s classroom.

After Back to School Night ended and Sarah was leaving, she saw her friend, Adrienne.

“Hey Adrienne, I haven’t seen you in ages, how are you? How are Billy and Markie doing? Who are their teachers this year?

Sarah continued her conversation, catching up on the latest with Adrienne and her family. After about 20 minutes she remembered she had double-parked.

“Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, Adrienne. I forgot I double-parked. I’ve got to get out to the parking lot.”

As she approached her car she saw a woman peering into the window.

“Why are you looking inside my car?”

The other woman’s response was very heated. “This is your car? Why did you double park behind me? And you’re not even out here when Back to School Night is over. I have to get home to a babysitter and I’ve been waiting for half an hour. Now you come strolling out here as if nothing’s happened. Don’t you have any consideration for anyone else? ”

That response raised Sarah’s hackles, and she started yelling at the woman. Realizing she was in the wrong, had she just apologized, gotten into her car and driven off, it probably would have ended the situation. But now the two women were screaming at each other in the school parking lot in full view of other parents and children.

“Don’t you yell at me like that.”

“Well get your car out of my way.”  The other woman continued yelling at Sarah as she stormed over to the trunk of her car.

Sarah, who had a vivid imagination and watched too many police shows on television, feared the woman might become violent and yelled to others around her, “Watch out, this woman might have a gun!”

The other woman whipped around. “What is the matter with you? I’m getting my jacket out of my trunk because I’m cold. Are you insane? Get your car out of my way.”

Hearing the fighting and worried that something terrible might erupt, another parent had quietly called the police on her cell phone and rushed into the office to alert me that there was a fight in the parking lot. The vice-principal and I both hustled out to where we saw a cluster of parents. As we arrived on the scene, a police car pulled up and two officers hopped out.

What we saw were two women screaming at each other with a group of parents and students standing by watching. One father was doing his best to calm them down.

When they saw the police both women started talking as loud and fast as they could, each telling their side of the story.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, calm down a minute. Whose car is this?” the policeman asked, pointing to Sarah’s car.

“That’s my car.”

“Well Ma’am, please move it over there,” pointing to an empty parking spot, “and go wait for us in the school office.”

“But officer, she was screaming at me, and threatening and yelling obscenities at me. I want her arrested.”

“Ma’am, we will have a chance to hear your side of this story, but first please move your car out of this woman’s way.”

Begrudgingly, Sarah obliged and the policeman asked if the vice- principal or I would accompany her to the school office. “Would you please keep her occupied until we finish our interview here? Then we’ll come into the office and meet with her? We just want them separated right now.”

Our vice-principal, escorted Sarah into the office, and I stayed behind as the police interviewed the other woman. After the police concluded their questions and calmed the women down they both declined to press charges. Sarah apologized and agreed that she should not have double-parked in the first place. What should have been a civil resolution to the problem ended up extending Back to School night almost an hour for many of us.

If all us educators had to be concerned about were students and their education, our job would be relatively stress-free. Back to School Night may not have ended as we anticipated; but luckily most who attended had no idea of the drama that surfaced in the school parking lot after they left.

“Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them”

~James Baldwin

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