Thursday, February 6, 2014

How to Navigate the First Circle of Hell

Also known as Middle School Pickup

  • Dismissal is at 3:35, but do not make the mistake of thinking you can pull up to the school at 3:35.  No, no, no, no, no, my newbie friend.  Therein lies folly and the interminable waiting through 6 cycles of traffic light just to be allowed into the school driveway.
  • An acceptable time to arrive is between 3:05 and 3:15.  And even then the Prime Parking Spots will be gone.
  • The two Primest of the Prime Parking Spots are the two adjacent to the exit doors, one at each side.  Parking in either of these spots will allow your child to enter your car immediately and allow you a quick and secure getaway.  Securing these spots most likely involves bribery.  At the very least you probably have to arrive at drop-off in the a.m. armed with a cooler of food, a gas can, lots of reading material, car charges for multiple electronic devices and an empty bottle to pee in.
  • Always, and this cannot be emphasized enough, always always back into the parking space so you can face the exit doors.  This will allow you to see your child as they emerge and gun your car into action.  If you are not a good backer-upper, then you must practice up and down your driveway until you become proficient.
  • The next level of Prime Parking Spots is the outer perimeter.  If you are on the far side, you can still see your child emerge and pull into the traffic loop with Relative Ease.  Relative Ease in this case is playing hardball chicken with the cars already in the traffic loop, while simultaneously making Severe Hand Motions to your child to STAY WHERE YOU ARE UNTIL I PULL UP.  NO, SERIOUSLY.  I MEAN IT.  STAY WHERE YOU ARE.  AND ZIP UP THAT COAT MISTER, YOU WERE HOME SICK FOR FOUR DAYS LAST WEEK.
  • If you must be in the Inner Perimeter of Parking Spot, try at all costs to be in the Front Row.  You will have to play hardball chicken 3 times.  Twice on foot when you leave your car to gather your child up and again as you cross the traffic lane to escort them back safely into your car.  Do not rely on the staff there to help you negotiate this.  They have been at this for many years and they want to live another day.  Make Eye Contact.  People have a harder time running you over if they have looked you in the eye and you are clinging to a child.  But it is a fine line.  Dawdle and All Bets are Off.  You will have to play hardball chicken again when you attempt to pull out into the traffic loop, but you are facing the right way and you have a large amount of steel and airbags to protect you.
  • If you are in the Second Row of the Inner Perimeter, you will have to do all of the above, except you will be trapped when you get back into your vehicle.  Do not attempt to back out of the space.  That way also lies folly, my friend.  No one will leave you room to back out.  They have to Get Their Kid.  You will have to wait until the person in front of you, or possibly the persons adjacent to them, if you have a small car and can maneuver on two wheels, to pull out first so you can take their place in the Front Row.
  • Slightly preferable (or not) to the Second Row of the Inner Perimeter is the endless circling around the traffic loop until your child appears (where are they, dammit!?).  You do not have to leave your car but you have to play hardball chicken every time you attempt to enter the far side of the loop again because you have Failed in Your Mission to Get Your Kid and all the other drivers pity you and call you a Loser from the safety of their cars.
  • At all times beware of the Rogues who ignore the line of traffic and make their own lane because they are Picking Up Their Kid and/or They Have Their Kid and Now They Have Somewhere To Be.
  • Trying to be kind and let someone in to the traffic loop is the right thing to do, but will generally earn you at least one WTF?! hand motion or a flashing of headlights or a not-so-subtle horn beep from one or more cars behind you.  Sometimes all three.  Because They Have to Get Their Kid and They Have Somewhere To Be.
  • You, yourself, will make at least one WTF?! hand motion during this whole process.  Personally I let at least one car in and sometimes even school bus full of children with sane parents pull out into the main road from the other driveway.  Because I am a Bitch That Way.
  • Do not attempt to park in the front lot and walk to the back door to pick up your child.  Bad idea, my friend.  You will have to navigate large areas of the parking lot Unprotected. Twice. Rogues get extra points for hitting you.
  • If you are fortunate, you only have to navigate this hell once a week.  If you have to do it twice, you have no doubt fortifed yourself with chocolate and caffeine. If you find yourself doing this daily, then there is nothing I can do for you but keep you in my prayers.  Perhaps you need to rethink your child's activity schedule.  Soldier on, Brave One.