Not much can get me as riled up as poor car-line etiquette. Whether dropping off to school in the morning or picking up in the afternoon, there are certain absolute rules too many parents don’t appear to comprehend.
It would seem an easy enough task: pull up to the curb, collect or deliver your child and pull away. However, when you add the many variables going on inside and outside of any given family truckster, things can quickly go awry. Cell phone usage, squabbling, anxiety attacks, weather and sheer disorganization are all frequent causes of delay. Considering that most car-lines include at least a hundred vehicles, one person’s delay will affect many.
I’ve been frequenting car-lines for over a decade now but the issue came to a head today in the middle school morning drop-off line. Numerous breaches by different carloads nearly pushed me over the edge. I only realized I was ranting off the charts when I saw my older, high-school student recording me and laughing. I’m sure that video is making the rounds right now on Snapchat or Instagram or some other public forum of humiliation.
Our amazing middle school vice principal has made car-line clearer than ever this year. There is signage at the far end of the curb stating, “Student Drop-Off Begins Here” and another sign where the curb ends that states, “Student Drop-Off Ends Here.” The idea seems simple enough to me. Ideally, the lead car pulls all the way up to the far end of the curb and approximately 10 cars can all disembark simultaneously, pulling away to make room for the next set of cars. Our vice principal, dedicated educator and administrator that he is, stands out there every morning in all kinds of weather, calling out in a directive but friendly manner, to “Keep it moving” and to “Please pull all the way up!” But for some, there appears to be absolutely no sense of urgency or consideration for others.
So this morning’s unamusing comedy of errors began as each morning car-line does, sitting out on the main road in a bumper to bumper traffic jam, just trying to make my way into the school driveway. As I finally got on to school property, we slowly snaked up the hill towards the student entrance, patiently waiting for my daughter’s chance to disembark. About halfway up the hill, a driver ahead neglected to stay with traffic. Clearly distracted by something, it took a honk to get her to wake up and close the gap she was allowing to form in front of her vehicle.
When we finally approached the drop-off curb, a parent about four cars ahead completely ignored the signage and the VP’s plea to pull all the way up. This ignoramus, who happened to be in the lead at this point, stopped right in the middle of the curb so she could get her child as close to the door as possible. So now only four cars could disembark at once instead of 10.
But did all four cars disembark? No. For some inconceivable reason, the child in the car directly in front of me chose not to get out, so after my child walked into school, I was stuck behind this family as they moved up a few car lengths to stop once again. Now forced to stop in the car-line for the second time unnecessarily, I was fuming. And, as if this weren’t rude enough, it got worse. Completely oblivious to the hundreds of people waiting their turn, this parent got out of their car to hug their tweenager goodbye.
I broke decorum and pulled out of line around this rulebreaker. Having another school to drop off at and a job to get to, I was deeply offended by this obliviously self-centered parent taking up my and everyone else’s precious time. As I abruptly pulled away, the offender jumped in her car and laid on the horn, glaring in my direction. I railed against the injustice of it all and rattled off obscenities while my high-schooler documented my fit.
To all of you who don’t understand the unwritten (until now) Rules of Car-Line, this is for you:
1. Time is of the essence. Move!
2. Make sure your child is ready to make a quick exit and get the heck out of the car.
3. Hug and kiss at home; never in car-line.
4. Engage, stay with traffic and stay off your phone. Distract yourself on your own time.
5. The lead car is to pull as far up as possible.
6. All other cars are to pull up closely and carefully behind each other, making the most use of the curb-space as possible.
7. Pay attention! That is my kid and all our kids passing within centimeters of your bumper.
8. Your child is no more special than mine so do not stop at the school door unless you happen to be lucky enough to land there.
9. Remember we all share this planet, so if you are early and must wait for school to open in the morning or dismiss in the afternoon, turn off your car. Unless it is colder than 30 degrees or hotter than 80, the rest of us don’t want to eat your exhaust.