The Power of a Yellow Vest


As part of my somewhat irregular attempt to garner a Mother of the Year award, which to date has been received with mixed reviews, I volunteered this weekend for my child.

Her soccer club hosted a tournament, and those are a special kind of hell requiring thousands of man hours all for the sake our our smiling, sweating, soccer playing progeny. Each team in the club had to donate a certain number of hours, and I raised my hand like a good little dooby. We had no idea what our jobs would be, just that we needed to be ready for anything.

Good thing my daughter wasn’t the only one who brought her game face.

I had initially been assigned the role of field marshall, which mostly involved walking around a cluster of fields telling parents to step back from the pitch or calling for medics. As I walked toward my assigned spot, a guy with a golf cart hailed me. Men in golf carts are generally to be respected.

“Let me ask you something. Are you good at dealing with pissed off people?”

“I have children,” I told the man.

He laughed and told me this was close enough to being a field marshall. My new job was to stand with my yellow vest and my walkie talkie at the exit of the parking lot, and to keep Very Important Parents from trying to jump the line by entering by the exit.

(To make a long story longer, the park did not have adequate parking, which was frustrating for everyone, and so the club decided to make a one way parking lot system. One way in. One way out. This is not a complicated idea, but it was a good one.)

I learned that people really do not like to be told what that can’t do.

More than once, I stood my ground, blocking with my whole body as SUVs and crossovers gunned toward me. Drivers shook their heads in dismay, and inched closer to me even as I shook my head.

I smiled. A lot. I apologized. A lot. It was hot. We were tired. There weren’t enough spaces in the world.

It got to where I could tell if a car was going to try to sneak in. Maybe he’d veer across the center lane and sort of angle the front of his car toward the seat of my power. My favorite was when they put their turn signals on. I’d just shake my head and point in the direction EVERY ONE ELSE WAS ALREADY GOING.

One woman tried to get in, saying she needed to drop off a bench. Sorry. Another lady said her field was just right there. Sorry. She rolled down her window and yelled some angry words at me.

The whole time, I tried to figure out what makes people tick. After over two hours of general abuse, I still have no answers. We are like toddlers. We want what we want when we want it.

I wanted to explain to these VIPs that if I let one in, then I’d have a bigger problem on my hands. If I let one in, I’d have to let them all in. But I didn’t bother, because they weren’t interested in my logic and because I knew I sounded exactly like my mother. Whom we all know is never wrong but whom I do not want to sound. Love you, Mom.

I admit. I enjoyed being the parking lot bouncer. I felt the power of the yellow vest flow through me like lightning. I liked being listened to, and I liked waving at friendlier folks. I liked seeing old friends from other teams and being outside on a pleasant day.

Until the last half hour. My neck was scorched by the sun. My feet hurt (and were also burnt). I was thirsty and I had to use the bathroom. I hadn’t had a decent meal yet that day and these people were getting down right cranky. I wanted out. I could not get out fast enough.

I enjoyed my power trip. I enjoyed it ending even more. It’s like we learned from SpiderMan. “With great power comes responsibility.” I turned over my walkie talkie and vest, happy to be irresponsible.