Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Authority Always Wins

Sometimes I just wonder what the hell is wrong with me.

I was a straight-A student in high school. A favorite of the teachers I loved. Some would have even called me a teacher's pet. But the ones I didn't like or respect? Oh boy!

I was the ringleader in getting our French teacher to quit my sophomore year because I hated her so much. I sassed her. Mocked her. Got in her face and yelled at her when she told my class that her three-year old spoke better French than we did. Laughed at her when she left the classroom in tears because we refused to listen to her. That, by the way, was the last time we ever saw her.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not exactly proud of that. I'm just using it as an example of my disdain for authority when it's an authority I can't respect. One form of authority I have a very difficult time with is making rules for the sake of having rules or rules that don't make sense or which are applied broadly leaving no room for individuals to determine whether or not they need the rule.

This is a trait that does not serve me well. It is a trait that leads me to instantly distrust teachers, principals, and school adminstrators in general. I feel they're all out to make me and my child conform to their ideas of what is normal and appropriate while they destroy any spark of creativity that might arise in anyone around them.

I know. There are some awesome teachers who inspire creativity. I know many of them and admire them greatly. They're not usually the ones who become administrators. Sadly.

All this came up for me today when I tried to cross the circular driveway in front of my son's school in a crosswalk (thank you, very much). An 8-year old school patrol nazi stuck her stop sign in my face and yelled, You can't cross there!

But it's a crosswalk, I replied, looking inquisitive.

Well, you can't walk across there. It's not allowed.

Quite maturely, I responded Well, that's the stupidest rule I've ever heard of. Can't cross the street in a crosswalk!

Naturally, all this transpired in front of Brendan. Yay me! Setting such a fine example. And of course, in front of the sternest looking female priest (priestess?) I've ever seen. I've noticed her all week walking her kids in, wearing her priest collar, and thinking nice things about her because she's obviously a minister of some sort. Unless, of course, she gets off on impersonating an Episcopal priest, which is actually kind of funny.

Anyway, when I said that the rule was stupid and got frustrated because the crossing guard Nazi refused to let me cross the street, she turned around and glared at me. Seriously!

If looks could kill, I'd be down at the funeral home right now.

Priest! Phhhh! Hello? Human frailty? Obvious parent of a pre-K kid? Don't know the arbitrary insane rules yet because handbooks haven't been given out yet on the third day of school!

That actually bothered me more than the rule itself. I'm on a show-a-little-kindness kick right now and it's really frustrating to me when other people are critical of the people around them when they show human emotion. Which, I realize is hypocritical because that's all this woman did and just because she's a priest I shouldn't expect her to behave any differently than the rest of us and I'm sure she didn't like me questioning safety rules in front of her kids, but ya know, I'm human. I'm carrying a 22-lb baby and holding a 4-year old's hand and carrying his book bag and trying to take the shortest route into the school. I'm an adult who knows how to cross a street without getting hit. Hell, I managed to survive all my life without getting hit by a car and my schools never had crossing guards and I walked over a mile to and from school.

I guess, what I'm trying to say here, is that if you're going to walk around wearing a giant wooden cross around your neck, a priest's collar, and you claim to represent the Highest Authority Of All, you might try showing a little good will toward the rest of us fuck ups.


At least until we grow up and learn to accept earthly authority or at least county school board authority a bit more?


Jeremy said...

Now you know where you can't cross the street, right?

BTW, the clergy have made a good living judging people for centuries, I'm sure they don't plan on discontinuing one of their trademark moves anytime soon.

Congratulations on the pre-K.

Suz said...

Hey now! You KNOW the school board did not make that rule. They don't exactly have time to legislate to that mundane level. Maybe the principal though--they're all total power mongers.

Although I must mention that yesterday, as I represented MY client school board in a nasty, contentious special ed meeting, the air conditioning turned off. We all looked at each other, then the principal, and I said "What just happened?" He and a few of the teachers said, "the a/c turns off at 4 during the summer." I said, "well, go hit the override button." They informed me that there is no such button, but that the HVAC at all of the schools is controlled from the district office downtown, by computer.


Mike said...

When we were traveling in Spain a few years back, we met an Australian world traveler who had just come over from visiting Austria. He told us that one day in Austria he started to cross a street against the light when it looked safe to do so, but an Austrian woman clapped a hand on his shoulder to stop him and said, "No! For the children." Maybe she has an American Episcopalian cousin?

rennratt said...


I think I'd head straight to the principals office for an explaination.

What tha?

Christopher said...

Did you ever find out why crossing there is not permitted at that time? It is entirely possible that there is a valid reason, and that they didn't just make up the rule to aggravate you. Although who know. Maybe the Authority Figures are out to get you. :)

From here it looks like you were just looking for an excuse to vent because you were feeling stressed from having your hands full (literally and figuratively) and so it's not surprising that the cross walk woman mirrored your frustration back at you. If you had reacted differently, she might have reacted differently, too.

Jen aka Evilynmo said...

Ben is really upset right now because he is realizing that he is "the Man" to our daughter. He hates authority and rules and will miss a flight or break the (pansy/stupid/jaywalking type) law if it means he can stick it to authority. It drives me crazy, but I also love it about him. So go ahead with you bad self =)