Speaking of doing something fun . . . several weeks ago, after spending a fun weekend in Galveston, I went to the gas station to fill up and wash all the sand and salt off the car. I was hot and tired (and maybe a bit cranky)! After pumping my gas, I drove behind the building to the car wash. I put in the code that was on my receipt and nothing happened. No light came on that said “Drive Forward.” You know what I did next? I put it in again! (That is my best strategy when something does not work. If I could have unplugged it, I would have done that . . . strategy #2!)
Unfortunately, nothing happened. Though I hated to admit it, I then pushed the “Help” button. You guessed it. Nothing happened. No helpful voice, no clerk coming out to help. Remember, I am hot, tired, and cranky! So I pushed it HARDER! Still nothing. This did not help my cranky!
Then I notice that there is another “Help” button, but this one had a handicap symbol on it. OK, desperate times call for desperate measures. Surely they will respond to the handicap button! I hesitate . . . is it legal? Is it ethical? Not sure, but I have paid for a car wash, have pushed all the other buttons, and I still don’t have a clean car! I pushed it twice! I waited and no help came. Now, I am full-blown cranky!
I realize I am going to have to go into the store to get help. I back out of a narrow driveway that makes a 90 degree curve. Not easy to do! I pull up in front of the store and go inside. I walk up to the clerk and said, as calmly as I can, “Your car wash is not working. I pushed HELP and no one helped.”
The clerk barely looks up at me and says, “Yea, we don’t answer that.” “But I pushed the HANDICAP BUTTON!” (I said sweetly.) The clerk finally looked up and said, “Push them all; we don’t answer.” I respond, “Then why do you have a button?”
Hours later, after I finally got my car washed and I was less cranky, I thought about this event. How frustrating it was to be asking for help and no one responded, especially when “HELP” was advertised. You know, I have seen parents and staff become very frustrated when they thought help was available and it was not. Whether or not expectations were realistic, that helpless, isolated feeling is awful. How can we support families and teachers who see us as the “help” button? I think how we respond is as important as whether we actually fix the problem. What do you think?