How common is this sight: a vehicle parked on the pavement and blocking the way for pedestrians?
Over the years I saw many of these: on my own, with my parents, friends and my husband. Unable to squeeze by I had to push a pram with my son along the road — petrified of the oncoming traffic and praying to God to save us from an accident. Has it been a common occurrence in my life? Oh, yes. Is it a trivial topic? I do not think so.
According to Highway Code “Parking on the pavement can obstruct and seriously inconvenience pedestrians, people in wheelchairs or with visual impairments and people with prams or pushchairs.”
In the UK parking on the pavement is illegal in London and from June 2018 in Scotland. Otherwise drivers are invited to exercise their judgement when making their parking choices.
Today I was passing by a van parked on the pavement and yet again I had to step onto the road and walk around it. My son is now taller than me — and on this occasion we were together.
As usual, I was preparing to continue my journey and brush off this minor inconvenience but something inside me rebelled. Maybe it was the mother in me — wishing to send off my grown-up boy into the world with a clearer boundary between “rights and wrongs” or perhaps I was just feeling a little too irritated by the detour I had to make. I stopped and addressed the driver — who happened to be delivering a bulky item to a nearby flat.
I talked. It must have been a long speech. I was trying to appeal to his feelings as a father or the brother of a woman with a pram, trying to evoke an image of a wheelchair user that in no way would be able to perform successfully the same manoeuvre as I did just a minute ago. I was not shouting, I was not showing any anger. I used the power of words to call to his consciousness.
In the end he said: “Just go away and mind your own business”.
I did go away — feeling empty and silly. I just lost my dignity, my respect in front of my son and… really I wondered why I bothered at all. What would it change?
Ten minutes later I was coming back the same way. The street was the same — but… the van in question was carefully re-parked on the road and was not even touching the curb.
I did not see the driver. He must have been inside, busy delivering the goods. I would have said “thank you”. But perhaps he did not want me to see “his weakness”.
Perhaps he would not want to admit that even such a big tough guy like him could not avoid being conquered by the power of words.
The translator delivers the message of the original across cultural boundaries. On this occasion I may have succeeded in delivering something very important to the heart of this driver. Something that may make him never park on pavements in future.
Let us not be silent with the fear of losing our face. Let us make this world a better place and do it now. Let us give the word the power it deserves.