Waiting in the carpool line

Posted on May 23rd, 2011

I don’t know how this happened, but apparently I have amassed over a million hours sitting in the carpool line. Seriously. Oh sure, you think I’m exaggerating, but sadly, I’m not. Okay, fine. I am. Maybe it just seems like a million hours. But I did I read online that the average parent spends 3 years waiting in a carpool line.

Um, hello? That’s three years I’d like back please.

Really. I want those years back. I’m sure I could spend them doing something way more fun that sitting behind an idling SUV, wondering which of the ten year olds arguing over who has shotgun is the student of the month.

The truth is, the only thing that separates modern parents from our animal counterparts is our unique ability to waste gas that costs $5 per gallon in a line that only accepts slow moving children and spontaneous parent-teacher conferences. These conferences always occur between the mother blocking the only exit and the teacher trying desperately to get her the hell out of the way so they can discuss Little Johnny’s failing math grade at another time.

Yeah, I might have some lingering anger over the carpool line. Just a little.

But in my many years of observing carpool lines, I’ve discovered quite a few things about the inhabitants and their daily habits. Call it my little section of the anthropological universe, okay?

I’ve spent three years of my life staring into the back of a Volvo with a sticker that says, “I love my French Bulldog.” Or watching as parents who are normally sane, upstanding, polite people turn into SUV driving monsters that wedge their car (which is so big it can seat an entire football team) into the two feet of space between my car and the compact sedan in front of me.

Um, really? Are you that important that you have to block both of us from leaving? And you know, oh you just know, that the kid getting into that car is nowhere near the carpool line. Nope, that kid is still at the back of the campus, flirting with a girl who will never in a million years date him. In the meantime, my kid is in the car. The compact sedan has their kid in the car. And yet, we are stuck in the carpool line, thanks to the SUV who will not wait.

Yeah, I definitely have some lingering anger over the carpool line.

The problem is that there are varying degrees of carpool line efficiency. Many schools attempt to regulate the carpool line. They have plans. And diagrams. And school officials armed with radios and whistles sitting in golf carts, telling parents where to go and what to do.

The issue with that is many parents believe that once they are out of school, they are free to disobey the yard duty. Or the principal. That means that they can park in the middle of the street. Or make a sudden U-turn in front of you, making you spill your freshly brewed latte all over your new white pants. Um, yes, I do speak from experience on that one.

Or the powers that be create a non-moving carpool line (where all the cars are in a line in the parking lot and nobody moves until their kid is in the car). In a non-moving carpool line, the car directly in front, blocking the only way out, will have the child who is the slowest moving in the school.

That child can take up to 20 minutes to exit the classroom, tie his shoes, pause for a swing on the monkey bars, get a drink of water, dribble a basketball, lose all the papers out of his backpack, stuff all the papers back in his backpack, find a lost puppy, return the lost puppy and then finally get to the dang car.

You can imagine the honking and swearing that goes on in a non-moving carpool line.

I did have one carpool line that was perfect. It was run with an efficiency rarely seen in carpool lines. If your child wasn’t waiting for you at a specific stopping point, you had to drive around until your kid was ready to be picked up. It was a dream carpool line, one that I fantasize about frequently while I am sitting outside Junior’s school, wondering how the person in front of me can see through the five sandal decals, two leaping dog decals and one “I love Mustang Tennis” decal stuck to her rear window.

Carpool lines. Three years of your life. Three very long years that you can never, ever get back.

I’m starting a new drive! Like me on Facebook and I will enter you in a contest to receive…absolutely nothing! That way everyone is a winner, right? Right? Hey, are those crickets I hear?

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4 Responses to “Waiting in the carpool line”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    I am pretty sure that my kiddos hear more cuss words out of my mouth during drop off & pick up than on TV. My favorite is when everyone is crusing along just find and then the car in front of you slams on the breaks IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET while thier kid gets out.

  2. Laurie Says:

    So true! I forgot about that parent. What is it? Do they lose their brains the minute the school comes into view?

    Oh, and when that one person stops, the kid gets out and there is usually an impatient person two cars behind who swerves out and nearly hits the child trying to pass all the stopped cars.

  3. liz Says:

    All carpool lanes are bad! I will have to say that high school carpool lanes the worst. Not only are you dealing with crazy parents you are dealing the kids who got their license yesterday. (and I do mean yesterday)!!

    You are driving or should I say waiting for the crazy soccer moms to decide what they are going to do with monster suv’s. Then you have some actual soccer players trying to cut in front of you to get to their parking spaces. Of course the soccer player is driving a monster suv because their parents thought they would be safer. Yes they are safer but no car around them is.

    I now have the soccer player who is driving herself to school (in a civic). I have told her to please be careful and she tells me she hates the parents in the carpool line.

  4. Laurie Says:

    Liz, I feel your pain. I refuse to enter the school parking lot. Between the kids who are driving through there like they are in a NASCAR race and the parents who stop short because they suddenly see little Johnny coming out of class and they need to say hello…I’m afraid someone will get run over.

    LOL at the SUV. We thought about giving Junior my SUV when he turns 16 (Yes, I have one; in my defense we use it tow the trailer for go-kart racing). But then we figured we were a) giving a 16 year old way, way too big a car to navigate in parking lots and skinny country roads; and b) giving him his own personal hotel room, which did not sit well with me! Also, we want him to pay for his car, but that’s another story.

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