Tuesday, May 13, 2008

We're Not Gonna Take It

In my youth, I wanted to be a lawyer. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because I hated injustice and wanted to do something about it. Short of being a superhero, I guess I thought a lawyer was the next best thing. Even though I abandoned my plans of being an attorney, I didn't abandon my ideals. When I saw injustice or felt like something wasn't right, I often sought to correct it.

A few examples...

When I became a freshman in high school, I was absolutely appalled that the girls' locker rooms had no shower curtains. Now maybe it was common to let everyone see you au natural, but I was and still am a very private person. And darn it, if I had to take a shower, I was going to do it with a shower curtain.

So what does a gal do in a high school of approximately 200 kids? Why, start a petition, of course.
And that's exactly what I did. I collected signatures and asked the school to put in shower curtains in the girls' locker room. I remember the seniors in my P.E. class shaking their head at me and calling me "naive" and "immature" for wanting to do this. But my P.E. instructor gave me kudos and told me that it was pretty cool what I was doing.

And did I get those shower curtains? You bet. And they're still there today.

When I was a junior in high school, some of our homecoming activities had been taken away. One of them was the bonfire. This had been a tradition at our school for years and years. I remember when I was in elementary and junior high, I couldn't wait for the bonfire activities. Now remember, this is a small town - around 1,600 people - and so the entire community celebrated homecoming. The fire department (all volunteer) would come help, we'd gather a bunch of boxes, and burn them in a safe spot while talking about the upcoming football game and creating a whole bunch of school spirit. It was a great time.

But they took it away before I got into high school and when I was a junior, I figured something better be done about it. So I started another petition. Since I was an editor for the school paper, I also wrote an editorial on the issue. And when I had gathered enough signatures, I gave it to the president of the student council and he presented it to the school board. Lo and behold, we got the bonfire back.

I'm pretty darn proud of myself for taking those two tasks on, miniscule though they may be in the grand scheme of things.

But recently, I've undertaken yet another cause.

We live on a street that, for some reason, gets a lot of traffic. We think that it's a sort of detour for a lot of people to keep them off the main streets. The problem is, we are completely residential - lots of young families with children. And for 10 solid blocks, there is not a single stop sign. No big deal, you might say - but this street is a bit wider than most residential streets and so people figure they can zoom down it at any speed they want.

I'm not ashamed to say that I've yelled at people more than once to slow down and gotten the finger in response. Well, things came to a head over the weekend. I was sitting in my living room, relaxing on Friday night, when I heard a car racing by. By the time I ran outside, it had already gone far enough that I couldn't read it's license plate. Fortunately (or unfortunately, as you'll see), the car came back around, speeding again. Now when I say speeding, I do not mean a few miles over the speed limit. I mean crazy speed - like 50 or 60 miles an hour. And no, I am NOT kidding.

The car comes back and I jump off the couch again and head outside. And just as I opened the door, I saw the car lose control, skid on its breaks, and bang into a parked pick-up truck right across the street from my house. He was going so fast that after he hit the pick-up (and knocked the pick-up tired completely off, plus all the bearings), the speeding car jumped the curb and came over to my side of the street, went into the neighbor's lawn, hit his tree (and left a huge gash in it) and then...he took off. Yes. A hit and run. And since this was a beautiful summer evening, all my neighbors were sitting out on their front porches.

Yeah, the guy got caught.

But the whole situation just reinforced the notion in my mind that something has to be done about this street. I cannot even let my daughter play anywhere in my front yard for fear of something like this happening again. And darn it, why why WHY do people need to drive so fast and then get away with it?

So I've taken the first step and contacted the traffic operations manger for my city. We'll see what happens next. I'm perfectly happy to go around and gather signatures for a petition again if I have to!


  1. Well your timing is perfect, although it's a shame it has come to this. It's lucky he didn't run into a porch and kill someone.

    I envision stop signs in your neighborhood soon :)

  2. Good for you.

    If it's anything like my town, you'll need to go to a City Council meeting and make a presentation (did you get photos of that last accident?)

    After that, the City Council will review it, and then, a few weeks or months later, hold a public hearing.

    Chances are you and other people will need to get up and speak again.

    Also, contact your local newspapers or write a letter to the editor.

    Great work, keep at it.

  3. Lisa - Yes, it's very lucky he didn't hurt someone. I just don't want it to get to that point before something gets done.

    Devon - I sent a long email to the director of traffic operations for our city yesterday, so we'll see where it goes from here. :-)

  4. Good for you! Your an activist and activists are who change the world so you go girl! And I'm glad no one got hurt!

  5. Good job taking a stand! Our street is busy as well and they can really pick up some speed. There has only been one accident on our corner since we moved in here a couple of years ago and I'm a bit surprised by that fact. Those bonfires were awesome. I was the editor of my high school paper as well.

  6. Brian - thanks! Yeah, those bonfires were fun. Now I think they've done away with homecoming activities entirely in my hometown. I'm sure it has something to do with liability issues. :-(

  7. Grrr, idiots like this make me so mad! Unfortunately, even stop signs sometimes don't help. We live 1-1/2 blocks off a busy thoroughfare, and it's really common for cars to simply run the stop sign. Some of them don't even slow down. I almost got hit one night when I was on my bike--I had a bright white headlight and flashing reds, and the guy still didn't see me, even after he almost hit me.

    A lot of streets around here have successfully petitioned for speed bumps. Whatever works best for you, kudos for going after it!

  8. Christine - My husband and I have thought about the speed bump thing, too. We'll see what the city says, but I'm determined to get something done!

  9. Good for you! It's an awful situation and something needs to be done before someone is killed.

    Good luck!

  10. It's people like you that get things done, Melissa! Most people just sit around and complain. I love it when someone stands up and takes action. Good luck!

  11. Shirley, yes, it is an awful situation and I hope it gets resolved before it becomes even worse!

    Kelly - thanks! It feels good to take action. :-)

  12. We had to do the same thing in our neighborhood years ago. Took forever to get the stop sign. But we had this big long stretch of street and no stop signs to slow down the traffic. Our problem was that there wasn't really a busy cross street, so it didn't technically qualify for a stop sign. Like I said, took forever. But now we have one. Not that everyone stops there... ::roll eyes::

  13. Kacey, that's what I'm worried about - that people won't stop. Maybe I'll have to get some traffic cameras up there, too! LOL

  14. Good for you! I always hate it when people tailgate me through school zones.

  15. Speed bumps...!!!

    They cannot be ignored like a stop sign.

    Personally, I hate them, but they are a necessary evil.


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