Yesterday, for about five miles, I was driving behind a school bus filled with kids driving home from a full day of day-camp.
Sitting in the way back seats were a couple of kids who were waving to me enthusiastically seeking my return wave to them I think the head jockeys call it stroking. Like when you say “hi” to someone and they do not say “hi” back to you. You gave one stroke but got none in return so you feel weak, left out perhaps overlooked insignificant, neglected making you feel you did something wrong. I have worked in places where the “leadership” walked right by me ignoring me, never making eye contact, lost in their own empty world. How did they become leaders. Isn’t communications an essential leadership quality? I wanted to wave back to the kids in the bus but had to think about it.
In different times I would have not hesitated to accommodate, participate and reciprocate their waves (Not the wave you see at sporting events). The kids were properly seated in their seats and not standing in the aisle. Safety first. In today’s damaged world I chose not to wave back. Sad isn’t it? It mean the bad guys have won or have they? The cycle will soon revert back to a time of trust, compassion and understanding. Let’s make this happen. Join the movement to civility.
I was thinking of my safety and how my participation in the wave activity might be interpreted or misinterpreted. Did the bus have cameras recording my license plate numbers, letters and my picture? Might my wave be interpreted as offensive? Might I put myself at risk by waving back? Who knows. Am I paranoid. No, just cautious. Cause today, ya never know.
It was disappointing to me for not feeling comfortable and confident to wave back. It might have been disappointing for the kids whose expectations were not fulfilled.
Example: When we were on a family car road trip our kids sat in the “way-back’ section of the station wagon (yes, I am one of those guys). They would wave to the cars behind ours and most often folks in those cars would wave back. We played the license plate game. My wife had a magnetized map of the USA and each time we discovered a license plate state we would call out its name and my wife filled the empty map space with the appropriate magnet. On two of our road trips we discovered cars from all fifty states, yes even Alaska, Hawaii and Canadian Provinces as well. We told our kids the Alaska and Hawaii cars might be rentals, were shipped to the contiguous 48 states or transferred here when folks were transferred by their jobs or the military. The Canadian vehicles crossed into The USA at the borders. We met a traveling family in the hotel pool, at night after dinner and their license plate filled a spot on the magnet map. That is how we “broke the ice” with those fine folks. They were from the colder region middle part of our country. The kids played and splashed in the pool and we adults, guess what, did the same thing. Our definition of fun. That was about 20 years ago. We still, occasionally, exchange yearly family updates at holiday time.
Back to the way-back. In addition to the passenger car waving, our kids loved to motion to truck drivers to sound their horn. The kids would pump their arms up and own signaling the truck driver to get into motion and sound, rather, blast the horn. Many truckers obliged and our kids reveled in their excitement. As the truck drivers would eventually pass our station wagon he would wave to my wife and I with a big smile on his face knowing he made our kids happy and maybe himself as well, by doing good for someone else, a stranger at best. One final blast of the horn and off he went. His truck must have been empty allowing him to accelerate past us.
Example: Most every night after dinner, clean-up, chores and oh yes the homework, when our kids were young, I would take them to the neighborhood playground. This gave my wife some quiet time to talk with her Mom, read a book and relax from her long day. I am not a hero just a guy doing some good for his family and selfishly for himself. Guys who bragged about not changing their babies diapers were never at the playground. There the kids would let off steam, run, play, jump, climb, slide, swing, get sand in their sneakers, get dirty from a muddy puddle which is great since kids need to get dirty and interact with other kids doing the same things. Some kids they knew from school while other kids were strangers only until play took over.
For as many kids playing there were just as many or more “grown-ups”, parents, grandparents, baby-sitters, a few nannies for those who could afford to out source some parenting and care-givers.
We all hovered, made idle chit-chat and kept an eye out for the bad guys who were the cause of the many adults in attendance. You see fear is a motivator. Safety first. The good news is that the town eventually installed a Port-A-Potty which was quite welcome since most of us were at the playground for about two hours waiting for darkness to send us home and to the bathroom. More importantly although the Port-A-Potty was vital, a local police patrol car and officer made a drive through the playground offering reassurance, visibility and safety. The Power Of One!!!
One night I knew I would be late in taking our kids to the playground. A neighbor was on her way to the playground. I asked if she could take our kids. Without hesitation, she did as I have done so often, by instructing the kids to “hop in the back seat, seat belts on. Safety first.
I arrived, by myself, at the playground about thirty minutes after our neighbor took the kids to the playground. I parked the car, approached the playground and felt dozens of pairs of eyes checking me out. Who is this guy coming to the playground by himself is what I felt. Most were the regular attendees who knew me by face if not by name. But, out in the parking lot by myself I could have been anybody, one of the bad guys. As I got closer some of the eyes veered away since there was facial recognition. But it wasn’t until I opened the entrance gate and our kids came running up to me jumping in my arms, Daddy, did I feel welcome and secure. Thanks kids.
Keep It Simple – Keep It Real
POWER UP YOUR POWER ‘CAUSE THE POWER IS IN YOU!!!
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