Why Is This So Hard For People To Figure Out? The Daily Hell That Is School Drop-Off And Pickup

by Ashleigh Wilkening
A woman wearing a black and white striped wool cap leaning her head on the steering wheel in the car...
bokan76 / iStock

The seemingly innocent act of taking our little ones to school and collecting them hours later has a way of bringing out the worst in humanity. Two times a day, every weekday, I suffer through this war zone where rules of common decency cease to exist, and it’s every parent for themselves. This place has the ability to transform the most wholesome person into a savage lunatic losing all reasoning and sensibility.

I wanted to believe summer break would give everyone a much-needed opportunity to relax and CTFD — returning to the school year refreshed as friendly, kind-hearted human beings. Oh, how wrong I was. It’s only been a week since the school year commenced, and I can assure you, there’s nothing friendly or kind living in the black hearts of these individuals.

Regardless of how early or late I arrive, I’m still greeted with a ridiculously long line of vehicles with no end in sight. Does anyone take the bus anymore? Somehow the same parents always claim those precious spots in the beginning. Either they started their journey at 4 a.m. or they’ve been camping out in their luxury minivan all day and all night. In either case, I do not and will not ever have that much dedication, so to the end of the line I go — once I find it.

Upon entering the car line, the boxing bell rings and the fight is on. This experience requires a heightened sense of awareness because the rules of the road don’t have jurisdiction here. There’s always a potential threat of an intruder waiting to cut you off without hesitation. Any space or gap in between you and the car in front of you will only entice some asshole intent at committing the most heinous crime: line cutting.

The other morning while distracted with my kid’s unrelenting request for a snack, I let my guard down and two jerks somehow squeezed their way in front of me. I did the whole hands-raised-shaking-my-head-while-mouthing-something-rude gesture. I understand everyone’s haste in getting rid of their kid. Aren’t we all? I’m just as anxious to say deuces to my little one. Running late? In a hurry? IDGAF. Get to the end of the line like the rest of us!

When approaching the school building, designated lanes are essential in this system. It’s the most simple, efficient concept, yet parents just can’t wrap their heads around it. At my son’s school, there are two lanes. One is for moving vehicles, AKA dumping and running, and the other is strictly for parking. Easy enough, right? Wrong.

It’s a complete shitshow. Cars are attempting to enter through the exit while others are trying to reverse out the entrance. Poor souls are utterly confused as they park in the thru lane leaving buses and everyone else behind them at a standstill. Everyone is honking and pissed off while waving their hands out of their windows as they spew PG-13 comments. This truly is the stuff nightmares are made of.

My child is too young to drop off and run, so this momma needs to park. When I arrive to this designated area, all I see is chaos and disorder. Vehicles are over and outside the lines, taking up two spaces, and 15 feet away from the curb. How the hell am I supposed to parallel park my beast of a minivan in between this hot mess?

Oh, and then there are those who arrogantly park in the bus or shuttle areas disregarding the numerous signs posted, bright-colored paint on the asphalt and the school personnel yelling for them to stop. These parents truly don’t give AF. Besides jamming up the entire system, it creates a whirlwind of intense frustration and anger. Now, not only is everyone running late, but they might as well cancel any plans they had because everyone is forced to remain in this traffic jam of purgatory until this parent gets their head out of their ass and finally decides to move their vehicle.

Leaving is by far the worst stage in this entire process. Making my grand escape from the drop-off/pickup line onto the main road a treacherous journey not for the faint-hearted.

I go. You go. I go. You go. This is an example of taking turns in its most basic form, and yet I’ll sit there forever waiting for a car to let me pull out.

As I slowly inch forward, every car races to block my exit, bypassing me just as the car before it did. It doesn’t matter how hard I stare at the asshole driver in each of these cars, they wouldn’t dare turn my way. Instead, these jerks pretend not to see me as they whip out their phones to distract themselves. It takes everything in me not to scream, “I know you see me, you [insert favorite expletive].” Finally, I continue pulling out far enough until someone finally caves and lets me in — usually a preschool or kindergarten mom who hasn’t been beaten down and worn out by many years of this perpetual torture.

When all is said and done, I’m exhausted and stressed needing both a nap and a shot of tequila. You may be thinking this is somewhat dramatic. If so, you’ve never experienced this ninth circle of hell, to which I envy you and your naivety.

If you’re a parent like me who even with the best intentions still finds themselves dreading this dark place, I wish you the best on surviving the school year. If you’re the parent who’s cutting the line, parking in the bus lane, or the worst offender of them all — not letting me and my sweet minivan pull out — do us all a favor and sign your kid up for the bus.