Waiting in the car rider line at school is horrible. The cars move at a snail’s pace, the traffic cops always allow too many cars from the other side to enter the parking lot first, and there is always that ONE frazzled mom in a minivan** who tries to enter/exit the wrong way.
**I’m so not that mom. Yes, I got a ticket for making an illegal turn, which was a complete hose job and a story for another day, but I DO NOT drive a minivan and I NEVER get frazzled. So there.
Add to the fact that it’s been 100+ degrees nearly every day and the kids are waiting outside, sweating like mad, and then immediately getting on my case when they get in the car–“Why’d it take you so long?” as if they thought I should maneuver my land yacht up and over the mile long line of cars to pick them up the moment school let out– then you can imagine the misery of my afternoon. But there are times when the car rider line is insanely entertaining.
Car routes are complicated things. It’s taken years for the schools to find a system that works. It’s still not perfect, but it’s as close as it’s going to get to being so. It would work much better if everyone followed the rules, as is true in all aspects of life. And, as in all aspects of life, there are always people who don’t follow the rules.
Aside from obeying the traffic cop, there is only one rule in the middle school car rider line. You must drive your car all the way to the stopping point. It doesn’t matter if your kid is right there when you first drive up, you must pass them and go to the stopping point so that the largest number of cars possible can fit into the loading zone. It’s logical in relation to everyone else. To a parent that’s been waiting more than 1/2 hour to pick up their child, who is right there, within 3 feet of the car, passing them by is counterproductive and just dumb. It doesn’t matter much to the kid. The cars are driving so slowly, the kid can easily keep pace and climb in the car when it stops. It matters to the parent. The goal is to get the kid in the car as soon as possible, all other parents and kids can fend for themselves. This “me and mine” mentality would cause car wrecks, mom brawls, and student stampedes, if not for one crucial detail–the enforcers.
Nevermind Wyatt Earp, Dave Schultz, or Frank Nitti. The real enforcers are the brave group of 5 teachers who direct traffic and occasionally yell, “PULL UP!!” to crazed parents, all while wearing sensible pumps and carrying a smiley face umbrella to keep off the sun. You DO NOT cross these ladies. They’ve spent all day wrangling middle schoolers. They are not about to surrender to unruly parents in the car line. They do a darn good job keeping the peace and the car line moving. But some parents can’t be stopped….
It’s the third day of the ridiculous car line and the wait is longer than ever before. I’m creeping along behind a red Ford Focus. For 35 minutes I’ve stared at the back of that car with its “Yes We Can!” bumper sticker and the stuffed Hello Kitty in the back window. Finally, we are number two and three in the next line of cars due to pull up to the stopping point. We begin the crawl and suddenly, Red Focus stops. I see a very pretty young lady begin walking toward the car. I’m not the only one. Suddenly a sundress clad teacher starts waving her arms at Red Focus. Red Focus lurches forward a fraction and stops again. The young lady quits moving and glances nervously at Sundress Teacher. Then Red Focus lady starts waving her arms at her daughter. Not toward the stopping point, but toward herself. “Come on,” the wave says.
Sundress Teacher waves wildly while calling in the big guns. Man Teacher emerges from the shadows and booms out, “Move forward!” Red Focus lady continues waving with what, I assume, is desperation. Dutiful daughter does the only thing she can. She obeys her mother. She looks at her feet as they move, with conviction, toward Red Focus. In a flash, she is pulling the door handle and folding herself quickly, but daintily, into the front seat.
Sundress Teacher and Man Teacher are both yelling, “NO!” and gesticulating madly, to no avail. Red Focus veers out of the car line and I watch Hello Kitty grow smaller by the millisecond as Red Focus makes her getaway. The whole incident took less than a minute. The experience will stay with me for a lifetime.
Like many witnesses to heinous crimes, I’m asking a lot of deep questions. Why would a normal Red Focus suddenly go berserk? Was the strain of waiting another minute too much to bear? Was it simply a crime of desperation? Was she late for an oil change? I may never know, but it’s okay. Some questions aren’t meant to be answered.
There is, however, one question I can answer with absolute certainty: With such a dramatic exit, how can Red Focus ever show her grill in car line again? She can’t. Not without some major body work, anyway. Hello Kitty and the “Yes We Can” (cheat in car line) bumper sticker will have to be removed. As for the pretty young lady, her life will never be the same again. She will live in fear of being recognized by Sundress and Man teacher. She may have to be let out a couple of blocks from school and forced to walk.
Or worse, she may have to ride the bus.