There are several modes of transportation that students use to depart at the end of a school day. They can walk home, ride a bike, take a bus and if of age, drive a car. They can also, of course, be picked up by a parent directly from school, which happens to be the focus of this piece, A.K.A. the “school pickup”.
The school my children attend is not large by comparison to maybe some other schools that have a total student body that I would estimate at less than 500. School pick up is a common practice in our area and I am confident that it is in other places as well. The school building is just a block from the midway point of one of the two main avenues that travel North/South through our village.
My children split their days between riding the bus and being picked up, depending on mine and their mother’s schedules. On days when I collect my children after school, I take the main avenue southbound through town and turn west on the road leading up to the school. Almost always, there is immediately a visible line of vehicles waiting for students to come through the front doors of the school building.
It’s a simple process really. The first three cars to arrive can pull directly in front of the main entrance in what I ascertain to be, three spaces. These spaces aren’t necessarily clearly marked, but due to the half hexagon shape of the pickup area, it’s evident to any person with a minimum amount of reason to assume that there are, in fact, three available spaces.
The ensuing vehicles can continue to line up behind the first three, looping through the parking area and eventually back to the parking lot entrance. Once the line exits the parking lot, it continues back to the east toward the main avenue running North/South. The entire process looks quite easy and simple to understand.
When I think about it, there are a great many things in life that look easy and seem simple, and some folks can struggle with occasionally... and… still… others...
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
First, are the School Pickup Superstars, who are seemingly unprepared to pick up their student(s). I have the most empathy for these folks because let’s face it, there are times you just don’t know how the child will react after entering the vehicle. The student may have had a terrible day and blurt it all out immediately or maybe had a really good day and couldn’t wait to show what they scored on their math test. I appreciate this, and the occasional wait for things to settle and the car or truck to begin travel shouldn’t be all that off-putting. Those scenarios aside, there are the repeat offenders that make it seem like EVERY DAY is their first day picking up children from school. I am actually envious of the world these people live in because everything must always seem shiny and new.
The next set of Superstars are the people who can’t quite understand the ‘three slots available for pulling up in front of the school to pick up’ concept. My only guess is that these individuals are thankful for debit cards and electronic payments, as prior to these, they have had to struggle with the spatial awareness of fitting all the words on the line of a check.
There are two basic offenders in this category. The first are parents or guardians that stop halfway between the first and second slot, allowing for only one other vehicle to move into the second and third slot. The second and less tolerable of the two are the individuals who stop midway between the second and third slot leaving the first slot completely empty. These are most likely the same people who, when you say, “Hey, look at that!”, only ever respond with, “What? Where? I can’t see it”.
Of course you can’t.
This brings us to our third group of School Pickup Superstars, who fail to understand the concept of school pickup etiquette and are also the people who completely obliterate the entire process!
They simply decide to skip the line entirely and pull alongside the three slots designated for pickup, double parked and often facing the wrong direction because they are in too much of a hurry to wait like the rest of us schmucks. Now, again, a once-in-a-great-while infraction here may have a very logical reason behind it. Maybe there has been a circumstance that is completely unforeseen, such as an emergency. However, the repeat offenders here are usually people that speaking with individually for more than 30 seconds in another setting makes you want to change your identity and go into a witness protection program for fear of ever having to interact with them again.
Yes, if you’re red in the face right now, I’m talking directly to you. But, I won’t call you out by name, okay?
Finally, the last of the Superstars to GRACE our list...
THE PERENNIAL WORLD CHAMPIONS OF SCHOOL PICKUP SUPERSTARS.
The heathens who pull into a slot, stop their car, get out and walk right into the school building for minutes that seem like HOURS.
Please read the previous sentence again.
If this is you, the next weekend you are at home, scatter broken glass in every direction leading away from your bathroom door. Then, go to your kitchen and drink the maximum recommended daily allowance of laxatives. The next 48 hours will give you some indication of how all the people behind you in the school pickup line have felt.
Now back to my regularly scheduled whining...
Let me also remind you that, at our school pickup, we have to drive through the parking lot.
THE PARKING LOT.
That’s the area that is designated for parking a vehicle, then getting out to go do whatever one needs to do, for however long it takes to do it. Seems like anyone who needed to actually go into the school building would park their car in the area designated to do so but… NO… these people actually have the audacity to pull up and park their car in the pickup slot, get out, be gone 20 minutes and leave the rest of us to negotiate the one to two slots depending on their ability to actually fucking park. I hate to use that kind of language, but there is a special place in hell, purgatory or whatever belief system one fancies, for these folks.
In short, parents and guardians, if you decide school pickup is your best option, I encourage you to do so, but please, be courteous and aware of whatever system your children’s school has so that the other parents trying to follow the unwritten but universally understood rules can efficiently pick up their children at the end of the school day.
There I said it.
Conrad Smith is an Ag Retail Business Owner & Employee in Illinois with his family. He is a former farmer and the proud father of 2 children. Follow him on Twitter @SmithAgConrad.