Pressed back into service after years, and I mean years, of being on the bench I found myself back amongst the denizens of the dreaded car lobby pick-up line. A lot has changed since those lazy days of pre-school drop off and elementary school car lobby pick up.
As much as it may be hard to believe the traffic has picked up considerably. I have no science to follow on this, but I imagine parents wanting to keep their kids off the busses full of little covid coughers might have caused the up-tick in kids’ being dropped off and picked up.
The other major changes? Well I’m droppin off and picking up for two now. Those two also go to separate schools so the route has expanded as well. We’ve got one in middle school so that means a cross town hike. The elementary school drop-off I used to make years ago was a milk run. No traffic to speak of, a short mile and a half to travel, and not one traffic light. I was in the tall cotton as they say round here.
Not now man. Now I’m dealing with mall traffic, and endless sea of traffic lights, and my favorite traffic obstacle here in the South, the dastardly four-way stop. Had Sherman invented these in 1864, he may not have had to burn Atlanta to the ground. We’ll just never know. The four-way stop is just a conundrum for Southerners it seems. The methodology of it conflicts with their desire to yield to all other cars at the other three stop signs. And since they are all yielding to each other, you tend to get a bit of a stare down.
That propensity to be nice on the roadways is not a burden that I carry. I subscribe to more of a hit man’s philosophy in those situations, taking my shot when others think it not prudent to do so. That brings on a different kind of stare. Look man, it’s highly likely I’d still be sitting at one if I didn’t just say screw it and go. One thing working in my favor, the cars in the morning jaunt to the schools are all nicer than mine by a lot. Who wants to bust up their nice ride on our old but still sexy Honda van. No one right? So I just go.
I could go on about the traffic for nine more paragraphs but I won’t. What has brought me to the key board this day is the vast difference between the Car Lobby Pick Up at the elementary school and the Lord of the Flies survival of the fittest pick up at middle school.
Woe unto me for ever mocking the iron fisted control of the car lobby pickup lane at elementary school. You can read my blasphemy here if you like Car Lobby Pick Up Lane. Who knew back then I would crave the frantic waving arms with red coned flashlights attached directing the cars, the stern looks of disappointment at a newbies inability to discern the pattern and drive accordingly, or the threat of violence from other parents, (mostly entitled moms) for having the gall to step from your vehicle thus breaking the battle rhythm of the ballet like movement of mini-vans making their pick up.
Oh I tell you now the pick up at middle school has me yearning, yes yearning, for the comfy warmth of the iron curtain dictatorship in the elementary school pick up line.
They are all animals in middle school; unbridled, untamed, uncouth, animals. There is no rhyme, no reason, no decorum, and no shrill lunch lady on the side hustle as the Fuhrer of the car lobby waving her flashlight as if it was Darth Vader’s light saber. There is no car lobby at all man! It’s just naked, open, aggression to the doors. You can even get out of your vehicle and no one cares. Anarchy, bald anarchy.
The arrows and parking lines are there only to be mocked and ignored. Driving against the arrows seems more like a right of passage. Try to drive with the flow and you’re in for all manner of gestures from the more veteran knuckle draggers. None of the gestures are compliments as far as I can tell.
It’s been a week of weeks I will say that much. It was not like riding a bike. It was like waking from a coma to find horse and buggy driven by a friendly traveler replaced by a BMW piloted by an angry entitled mom who will either call you a Trumper as she puts on her fourth mask and cuts you off, or flip you off and call you a snowflake as she hurls a burning mask at your car…. and cuts you off.
The laughter from my oldest in the back seat may be the only saving grace of that experience. Even though he’s laughing at me, that’s a far cry from the mood of virtual school all last year. The fact there’s a Chik-fil-a on our homeward leg helps too
Middle school pick up man, you got to want it.