Driving: A Misadventure

This month, we feature a scenario made with group input during a scenario writing workshop.

Welcome to our featured scenario of the month! This month’s featured ShadowBox scenario is from a recent scenario authoring workshop. Our scenario writers generated this scenario after receiving input from a large group about the cognitive challenges of driving. The scenario is intended to be engaging and to also demonstrate that ShadowBox exercises can be made from even mundane activities, such as driving.

As you read through the scenario, think carefully about how you would handle the situation – what stands out to you, what do you think is going on, and what would your priorities be if you found yourself in this situation? We suggest recording your choices and decision rationale so that you can compare your decisions with the experts at the end of the scenario.

The Situation

You are a typical 17-year-old American girl, a senior in high school.  You have been driving almost a year, having taken Drivers Ed at your school and passed the road test on your second attempt.  You have made last-minute plans to catch the latest Marvel superhero movie with Ashleigh and Jessica, a couple of the Popular Girls.  There probably will be a few other kids there, but in the social hierarchy, Ashleigh and Jessica are the ones that matter.  This is the first time they have invited you to hang out, so it is kind of a big deal.  Ashleigh also tells you that Ryan will be there.  Ryan is your secret crush, which Ashleigh of course knows about because of her status.

“This will be a great opportunity for you,” Ashleigh says with a little bit of an edge to her voice.

You do some quick planning.  It is now 2:15. The movie starts at 3:05.  The Cineplex is on the other side of town, about 30 minutes away taking surface roads.  Add a couple minutes to find parking at the mall. You obviously want to get there early so you can socialize before the trailers start.  Not much time to spare, but you should be able to make it. The expressway could save you 5-10 minutes, but the expressway can be gnarly, and you get nervous driving on the expressway.  You feel better about the surface roads, but that’s an extra 5-10 minutes. Finally, when you ran an errand to the Walgreens earlier today, the low fuel light was on.  You don’t know exactly how long it has been on, but you know nobody has filled the tank since then.

As usual, Dad is pretty cool with the idea.  He’s like “Whatever,” but Mom hits you with the zinger:  You can drive to the movie, but you have to drop Perry and Anna off at a birthday party on the way.  Perry and Anna are your twin 10-year-old siblings, also known collectively as the “Demon Spawn.”  Oh, and you have to pick up Perry’s nose-picking friend Josh on the way too.

The party is 10 minutes in the opposite direction, so add 20 minutes, plus 5 more to get Josh, assuming he’s even ready.  You try to explain the situation rationally to Mom, but she isn’t having it.  If you want the car, you have to drive the Demon Spawn and disgusting little friend to the party.

Decision Point #1

What is your assessment of the situation?  

Rank the answers below 1-4 with 1 being the option that most closely resembles your own thinking and 4 being the option least like your own thinking.

a. I have to get to the movie. Not only is this an opportunity to get in with the popular crowd, it will be a mark against me if I don’t go. This is an important test for me.
b. As much as I hate to admit it, Mom is not being unreasonable. One of the conditions of getting the car is driving my siblings places.
c. There just is no way to get Perry, Anna, and Josh to the party and still get to the movie in time. The mature thing to do is to skip the movie. Maybe I can arrange to meet with Ashleigh and Jessica after the movie.
d. Mom just doesn’t get it. She’s being unreasonable. I’ve got to work on Dad to get him to take Perry and Anna to the party.

Take a moment to consider your reasons for your decision.

The Scenario Continues…

You decide you’ve got to make this work.  The opportunity is too big to pass up.  You quickly bundle the Demon Spawn into the back seat of the family minivan and head off for Josh’s house in the next subdivision.  The low-fuel light is on.  You try to tell from the dial just how low the fuel is:  pretty low but you convince yourself it can go lower, so there must be some gas left.  Stopping at the gas station would add another 5-10 minutes.  You’re going to try to make it without refueling.

No sooner do you start driving than Anna announces she has to go to the bathroom.  You ask why she didn’t go before she left the house, and she says you didn’t give her enough time.  Meanwhile, Perry is making farting noises and laughing hysterically at himself.  You tell him to cut it out, and he suddenly declares he’s not going to the party, and he hates Josh, who is a “total jerk-wad.”

You pull into Josh’s driveway and instruct the Demon Spawn to stay in the car.  You run to the front door and ring the bell.  It takes them forever to answer.  Of course, Josh is not ready.  You make nice with his mom while the kid looks for his missing sneakers. You have heard your mom mention that Mrs. Koerner “has had work done.”  You try to figure out what it was. 

Finally, back in the car, Josh and Perry greet each other like everything is fine.  Josh announces that his older brother is going to the baseball game with friends, which starts at 3:10.

“I wish we could go,” Josh says.  “It’s bobblehead day.  We’ll drive right past the stadium on the way.”

“Wouldn’t it be cool if we jumped out of the car and went to the baseball game instead of this stupid party?” Perry says.

In the rear-view mirror, you notice that Josh gets a strange look on his face.

“I don’t feel so good,” he says.  “I think I’m gonna barf.”

“Do it out the window, Vomitboy,” you say.

You check your watch:  2:23. Time for some quick route planning.  At least the party is in the same direction as the mall.  Is that a knocking sound coming from underneath the car?  That can’t be good.

Decision Point #2

What route are you going to take?  

Rank the answers below 1-4 with 1 being the best course of action and 4 being the worst.

a. I have no choice but to take the expressway now. It’s the only chance I have of getting to the movie on time.
b. The expressway is bad enough on a good day, but with a baseball game about to start, it will be a mess. I’m better off staying on surface roads.
c. I’m screwed. I can’t get to the movie in time, no matter what route I take. Time to pull the plug on this plan.
d. Is there a route with a gas station? That could address the gas problem, as well as Anna’s bathroom problem.

Take a moment to consider your reasons for your decision.

The Scenario Continues…

You’re not ready to give up yet.  The expressway will be worse than usual, but it is your only hope.  Expressway, here we come. 

The low-fuel light seems to be getting brighter—is that even possible? —and the needle is going even lower.  Anna screams that Josh is flicking boogers on her.  And she still has to go to the bathroom— “Like, now!”  Meanwhile, Josh is complaining that his stomachache is getting worse, and he is about to throw up and wants you to take him back home.  Perry is declaring that he does not want to go to the party.  There is nothing you can do to make him go in.  He will just stay in the car if you try to make him go in.

“I’m gonna puke for sure!” Josh announces.  “I can feel it coming up!  I swear it’s coming!  Here it comes!”

The knocking sound under the car is getting louder.  You can’t deal with this anymore.  You have to do something about these demons.  But what?

Decision Point #3

What are you going to do?  

Rank the answers below 1-5 with 1 being the best course of action and 5 being the worst.

a. Beating. That will get them to shut up.
b. Take them home. One is sick and one says he doesn’t want to go anyway. The third is complaining she has to go to the bathroom.
c. Abandonment. Just drop them off at a safe location and continue to the movie. Call Dad to tell him where they are.
d. Blackmail. You know that Anna is hiding a package of Oreos in her room, which is strictly against the rules. Mom would freak. Plus, you happen to know that it was Perry who broke Mom’s commemorative Charles and Diana Wedding plate.
e. Bribery. Promise them ice cream if they behave themselves.

Take a moment to consider your reasons for your decision.

The Scenario Continues…

Although a beating and abandonment are both very appealing to you right now, you opt for bribery.  You promise them a trip to Custard Cup later if they will just shut up and sit still until you can get them to the party.  Perry negotiates for two scoops vice only one.  You agree.  The effect is immediate.  The kids quiet down.

You drive like you never have before.  Traffic slows down at the ballpark exit, but it’s not as bad as you expected.  It’s 2:45. You take the off-ramp and pull into the parking lot of Pizza Castle, where the party is, with a screech.  The kids shout, “Custard Cup!” as you shove them out of the car.  In the rearview mirror you notice that Perry has forgotten his present.

Your phone dings.  It’s a text from Ashleigh: “Where are you?  Ryan is here”—followed by three heart emojis.

You calculate it’s 5 minutes back to the expressway and then it’s a good 20 minutes to the Cineplex.  There’s no way you will get there by 3:05, but you tell yourself the movie never starts on time.  You figure there will be 10 minutes of trailers.  You can do this!

You head for the parking lot exit, and your heart sinks.  Traffic is backed up at the traffic light. Horns are honking.  There seems to be some commotion in the intersection.  Then you spot it:  an old lady is trying to push a shopping cart across the crosswalk.  The cart has tipped and spilled its contents into the intersection.  Groceries.  All over the place.  You spot a cantaloupe rolling through the intersection.  There is gridlock now.  Cars are honking and trying to get around her.  She is standing there clutching an eggplant to her chest, looking forlorn and overwhelmed.

What do you do?

Decision Point #4

What are you going to do?  

Rank the answers below 1-4 with 1 being the best course of action and 4 being the worst.

a. Find another exit from the parking lot. I’m not locked into the traffic jam yet. I can get around this.
b. Take a picture of the scene with my phone and text it to Ashleigh. They will all get a laugh about that, which will get me some points. Plus, they will know it is not my fault for being late.
c. Time to accept that the Fates are against me on this. I’m not making it to the movie. I might as well go back to the Pizza Castle and bring in the present that Perry forgot.
d. You know, in light of all this, the movie just is not that important. Somebody needs to help this poor old lady. It might as well be me. If Ashleigh and the other Queen Bees don’t understand, that’s their problem.

Take a moment to consider your reasons for your decision.

Click the link below to see how your choices compared with the experts!

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