Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is carpool line etiquette anyway?

The carpool line is like an observation tank.  I mean, who needs books or crossword puzzles?  I sit in my car everyday and pull those items out of my "carpool line tote bag," but they usually go unscathed; the milieu provides enough entertainment for me.

Usually the excitement does not begin until close to dismissal time.  That is when all the stragglers drive up and blatantly disobey carpool line protocol (and we wonder why kids have a hard time adhering to rules).   I watch all the other guardians like me, drenched in sweat and reaching the point of heat exhaustion, stare at these rebels with complete disbelief as they inch their way forward.  It's like a wave in a stadium, the dropping of the jaws and following of the eyes as the violators pass each compliant person in line mere minutes before dismissal.  The dissenters try to squeeze their vehicles into coveted spots that are off-limits or through the alley-like lane that is really just space for the good cars to move forward after their children have been picked up. 

Some of the bad cars cut in the front of the line.  Others park across the street right in time for the bell and jaywalk across the middle of a busy intersection and then go back with their children the same way (even though the school has asked parents to walk to the light and cross).   I have seen cars waiting in the middle of the street holding up traffic so they do not have to get jammed into the mess, which probably would not be a mess if everyone followed carpool etiquette.

One day last week I was sitting in the hot car trying to find a semi-comfortable spot when I heard the sound of a diesel engine.  Was the food truck trying to make a delivery at this time of the day?  I turned to look, as the hot fumes from the big engine nearly melted my eyelashes, and saw a monster truck (and I mean MONSTER) with a dainty blond seated at the wheel.   My writer's mind was reeling with a million different possibilities as I witnessed the lady sit in her two-story tank for a few minutes, then pull off to the side, park and then storm into the office to call out her child.  Hmmm...

It makes me feel like I am back in New York City, where all the taxi drivers cut each other off and honk, honk, honk.  Luckily I do not hear the obscenities from the carpool line parents like I heard from the cabs, but perhaps it is because we all have our windows up and air-conditioning blowing at this point.  The kids will be out any minute now, after all.  Yes~ people can be captivating entertainment while sitting in carpool lines.


Peggy Clement said...

I always hated having carpool duty because so many people think only for themselves. I "loved" the ones who parked their cars and held up the line each day because their kids were always the last ones out. They knew that but they had no problem holding up the line each day. And then if you politely asked them to move to the side so cars could leave, they would chew you out.

Jeni said...

A test of true patience.... meditation is great for that! If your anything like me, you hate to waste time.... make it productive. Write, Read, Blog..... On the iphone there is an app to blog posts to post from your phone :)!