I can’t believe at this point in my parenting career that I have to write a whole column on this, but frankly I’m surprised I’ve never covered it before. I’m speaking, obviously, of Car pool Line Etiquette. For you amateur pick-up drivers out there, please take note. I beg of you! This mom’s already-fragile sanity won’t withstand many more parking-lot shenanigans.
Recognize that there is a car pool line. Every time, for every event. If you don’t see it immediately upon arrival, bully for you! This means that you are the first, and as such, will be despised by pretty much everyone else. But as long as you don’t set up shop 50 yards behind the designated “pick-up” zone and instead pull to three car lengths ahead, you’ll at least earn a smidgeon of respect. Don’t forget to turn off the engine! Your gas-guzzling SUV poisons my kid’s air when you sit idling for 15 minutes.
For the normal parent who arrives within a reasonable window of the targeted time, simply go to the end of the line and be careful not to block parked cars, entrances and exits, or oncoming traffic. [I’ve actually seen this happen. What an idiot.] Occasionally you’ll be required to execute a U-turn to join in; please do so with competence. If it takes you 23 moves, you waive your spot and any able driver may legitimately take your position. It’s a tough break, my friend, but efficiency is of utmost importance in “The Line.”
Pay attention! These things can move like lightening once kids begin emerging. You need to be ready to pull forward at a moment’s notice. If you’re texting your best gal pal about brunch tomorrow and miss your cue, I will honk at you.
Have your doors unlocked and preferably open so as to expedite loading. Instruct your passengers to dive into the van as soon as you slow down. Speed is important at this juncture; there’s no time for storing backpacks in the trunk or gingerly setting violins down in the back seat. Rock and roll, people! I have places to be and your slow-moving child is not helping.
Do not start a conversation with the teacher or other parents out your window! I sat behind someone the other day for two minutes while she yucked it up with the adult helper (and her offspring struggled to get the trunk open [see #4]). My well-trained daughter was standing by at the ready, but I couldn’t get to her because Social Butterfly was enjoying a chat.
Car pool lines are a necessary evil, but they don’t have to be a nightmare if you just follow the rules! Peace out.