27 October 2023

First, a story

8:50 am

The red sedan pulls into the school driveway. “Bye kiddo,” it says. A child gets out of the car, ready to walk to the front doors. “Have a great day!” As the passenger door closes, the car moves forward, anxious to get the day started.

It immediately stops, blocked by traffic. A double line of cars obstruct the only path through the lot, waiting. The red sedan inches forward, to the side, then forward again, until, frustrated, it concedes defeat.

The Kiss and Ride line.

8:54 am

The red sedan is late. “My child is already standing at the door,’ it thinks. “I do not belong here.” It desperately looks for a way out. The parking spaces, littered with cars, offer no shortcuts. The red sedan, its tension rising as the minutes pass, is now trapped as more cars file in behind it.

9:00 am

The school doors open, exactly on time. The line begins to move. “Finally,” it thinks angrily. The red sedan races forward, only to stop short again. This parade of cars starts and stops, allowing children to get out as they approach the front. The line is fulfilling its purpose.

The red sedan opens its window. It makes a plea to the car next to it, but nothing can be done. The line has its rules. The red sedan must follow.

9:03 am

At last, the red sedan sees the front of the line. With the freedom of the parking lot exit in sight, it punches the gas and, again, races forward – into the red SUV.

The red sedan, finally, stops.

And now, an explanation

The story above is a true story (with some liberties taken to help the narration).1 Before I get into the details, no one was hurt. Teachers working the Kiss & Ride line called it a “small fender-bender”. I was neither the car in this story – merely a witness.

How Kiss & Ride works

Kiss & Ride at our school is straight-forward. There is a single parking lot next to the school, which is a one-way loop. Cars drive into the loop and form a double line. The loop through the lot is wide enough for the double line, but this definitely does not allow room for anyone to pass through.

When the school doors open, the cars at the front of the line let their kids out, then leave, making room for the cars behind it to drive up and drop off.

This morning

When I drove my daughter to school this morning, we were behind the red sedan as it pulled into the lot. We saw the drop off and the attempts to get ahead.

One lane of the double line always moves faster than the other. I happened to be in the slower of the two, so at some point, the red sedan got ahead of us, which is how I was able to see the fender-bender.

Back to patience

Mornings are hard. They are hard for most people, but they are next-level hard for parents of school-aged children. If you know, you know.

Sometimes you plan your day perfectly. On other days, work is so ridiculous, you no longer recognize it. Or your child gets sick on the most exciting day of the week. Or, your heart gets broken by a passion project gone wrong.

And on those days, you fall apart.

Falling apart is hard. You don’t think through decisions. You lose patience. You forget your goals. You forget to breath.

I will never know really happened inside that red sedan. But, something did happen that made them lose control, even just for a second. And sometimes, when you do that, you hit a wall. Or, in this case, a car.

So, please, do yourself a favor. Be patient. Remember yourself. And don’t forget to breathe.

  1. For example, cars don’t talk. However, in all seriousness, I have no idea what the driver was actually thinking or saying, but that car had a lot going on with it. Its feelings were pretty obvious, in a “drivers just know” kind of way.