What I’m really thinking
The housing trust is at its wits’ end. Two households are in an intractable dispute over a small area of pavement between their houses, where each feels they have a right to park. In fact, no one owns the road outside their house, but each person feels their circumstances entitle them to park there. So, a mediator – me – has been called in. Parking disputes and noise issues are now so common that they make up the majority of my working day.
We meet in a neutral space. Their body language says it all. Eyebrows raised in sarcasm and disgust, a lot of tutting and eye rolling and a fair few F-words – despite the ground rules, which ask for respectful behaviour. Each side makes it clear that if only these stupid neighbours could see the unreasonableness of their position, no one would need to sit here wasting everyone’s time.
Mediators must be impartial, non-judgmental and endlessly patient. I nod and listen sympathetically. One party doesn’t see why she should have to reverse her car to park it. The other refuses to squeeze her buggy round a dustbin to get to the boot of her car. I feel like telling them to grow up and stop behaving like five-year-olds. In fact, I’ve seen children sort out playground disputes with more maturity. They should realise that tiny houses in narrow streets often have three or four cars fighting for space outside.
With so many real problems in the world, why can’t these people summon some common sense and realise that such an inflexible attitude of entitlement makes life miserable for everyone? But then we w mediators would w be out of a job.