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Slice of Life 2020 Day 2: Failed Communication at the Gas Station

Being a teacher, I am pretty well-versed with my non-verbal cues and communication. Or so I thought. These were put to the test during a recent encounter at the gas station. I think I failed.

You see, I was trying to let the woman in front of me know that she forgot to close her gas cap before she started driving off. I was also beginning to drive away, so my options were limited.

I overthought the options I did have. If I beep at her, she might think I’m rude. If I motion with my hands, she might not see me. If I stick my head out the window and point, she might give me a funny look or misinterpret the situation. My best bet I thought was definitely to flash my lights at her.

Definitely not. Oops. Her hands immediately flew up in the air as to question what I could possibly be pointing out to her. Off she drove with her gas cap still open …

Our classroom secret language seems so fluid; an eyebrow raise signaling think about it, a finger or palm in the air signaling to pause, a tapping of my finger to my eye and then ear signaling to look and listen, a “thumbs up” signaling “you got this.” None of these helped me behind the wheel during this gas station incident. I hope she finally realized what I was trying to communicate with her when she got home…

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10 thoughts on “Slice of Life 2020 Day 2: Failed Communication at the Gas Station

  1. I liked this post! Sometimes you can give that kid in Target the look and they instantly know you are a teacher. Maybe adults are not as good at picking up these clues we give.

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  2. I’ve been in the stranger’s shoes, someone trying to give me a signal in the car – it was at a stoplight. The people in the other car kept gesturing with their hands, twisting. I got it: I’d left my set of keys in the trunk lock (my husband was driving with his keys). At least you have the satisfaction of knowing you tried. I so appreciate this phrase , “I overthought my options” – alas, how many times have I done that as well!

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  3. Aw, I love this! So easy to always expect the worst in people when we’re out in the real world. The classroom (and pretty much any job environment) is such a closed bubble of people you know how best to communicate with.

    p.s. I’ve heard lots about you too 🙂

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  4. I hope she was good and embarrassed. You could have a fun time writing this slice from her perspective (which would be a great teaching tool in the future for teaching perspectives and building volume.)

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  5. When she gets to where she’s going she’ll realize you were trying to help! What an analogy for life, right? Sometimes our best attempt at helping someone is misunderstood at first. Sigh.

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  6. Haha, sign language at a place like that is really difficult, because it is so open to interpretation and sometimes people don’t want anyone to tell them anything, even if it’s helpful! Your contrast with what we do in the classroom is so good, although maybe only a student will ever get that…

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  7. So much story in such a small moment…and I love that it connected to that secret, silent language we share in other environments, like our classrooms.

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  8. I love the connection between the nonverbal communication at the gas station and nonverbal communication in the classroom. It makes me think about signs of being a community that I often overlook.

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