Today I was out early, as rain is promised for later. I observed a father taking a ?3 year-old to nursery. They were crossing the road and the child had clearly been drilled to keep looking out for traffic. Suddenly she said, ‘Run, run – there’s a car coming!’ I remembered the research which shows that children are slow to learn to judge the speed of oncoming cars and that an older person would decide whether it is always good policy to run in front of an advancing car! Luckily there was no real danger in this instance.
Then I observed the slightly older kids. In my pre-digital era many years ago we were taught to look where we were going and to show polite respect for older people rather than force them to stop for us. Now – when I’m the old person – I have to stop for them since they are all looking at their phones.
Next I was waiting to cross a busy road when a young man on a scooter came round the roundabout, ‘jack-knifed’ and fell off in front of oncoming cars. Recalling Advanced Motorist training, I prepared to step out and make sure no one ran him over. But he jumped up, grabbed the scooter and was on the verge in a flash. So I went to enquire if he was okay instead. I even agreed it was slippery so he didn’t lose face since I could have told him he was cornering too fast on a dreadful camber. He seemed fine so I went on my way and was crossing in front of a car stopped at a halt sign (so I had the right of way officially). I thought we looked at each other, I acknowledged her and continued to walk whereupon she started forward. Her child passenger looked startled. Luckily she missed me. I recalled a tale my father told of his revenge on a Mini driver who had nearly hit him on a zebra crossing. As my father walked further along the Mini was stuck in traffic so he was able to bring his hand smartly down on the roof above the driver and was very satisfied with the chap’s jump. I couldn’t do that but hope loud knocks on the rear window gave an equal shock to today’s driver. I don’t know how she explained it to the child!
It’s so exciting going out on foot in the rush hour – and offers many opportunities to share and observe communication skills.