How to Win a Fight without Throwing a Single Punch

Anybody, kid or parent, knows there are all sorts of rules—good ones—to protect kids from cars on school grounds. Rules about where you can pick up and drop off. Rules about where to park. And, above all, an iron-clad rule that you stop if you see someone of any age entering the crosswalk from the parking lot to the school’s door.

On this particular morning, school had already started, and I was arriving late to drop off the lunch bag my son had forgotten at home. As I approached the crosswalk, I saw a woman hesitating at the school side of it. I slowed, and prepared to stop. But instead of stepping into the crosswalk, she made a spasmodic gesture with her hands that confused me. I interpreted the gesture to mean, “No, go ahead, I’m just standing here, waiting for someone,” and so I slowly proceeded.

Imagine my surprise and dismay when she hollered like a banshee, leapt into the crosswalk into the wake of my passing car, and kicked my bumper as hard as she could. Guess that wasn’t what her hand signals had meant, after all.

By the time I’d parked my car, prepared to approach her, explain, and apologize, she was standing outside hers, halfway across the lot, and screaming at me.

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