Apr 12, 2012

The Drive Thru

Today I was sitting in a coffee shop that had drive-thru service. From my seat inside, I could see the drivers just after they received their cups of coffee. As they pulled forward from the window they fumbled (DWF: Driving While Fumbling), one hand on the wheel and one hand feeling for the molded plastic cup holder between the seats. Some were already trying to drink the hot stuff, and one was on her cell phone.

Then I looked the other direction and saw a preschool directly across the street, with the telltale pintsize playground equipment. Perhaps preschools and elementary schools should not be placed across from drive-thrus of any kind, unless we want to radically reduce the population. But I’m thinking killing off the really cute little ones is not going to be a popular way to curb population growth.

Of course, if you’ve ever had to drop off or pick up your child at school, you know that it’s a miracle any children are still alive. The loading and unloading area around a school is possibly the most dangerous place in the world to walk, drive, skip, or run. At least, that was my experience in the years and years and years and years of dropping off and picking up my two children, an era that ended five years ago. Here’s how I remember it:

Parents are always late and they careen down the streets to school like NASCAR drivers snorting meth.  They do not line up patiently and wait their turn (as their children are being taught to do all day every day). They drive their SUV within range of the school and tell little Johnny to leap out (Don’t forget your lunch!) and make a run for it. Johnny dashes across the road while cars dance in and out of the drop-off lane. The precious object of their devotion, the special little someone they’ve protected since he was the size and shape of a cashew in mama’s womb is essentially told to play dodge ‘em with the cars of all the other parents.

Every one of the adults is frantic to drop their darling before the first bell rings because getting your children to school late, now that’s considered bad parenting. Mothers, all very nice people, who in their spare time volunteer at the church rummage sale, bake cupcakes for PTA functions and pledge to the Save the Children campaign, honk and scowl at the other mothers and fathers who happen to have arrived a nanosecond before them. Once they’ve dropped their progeny, they make a wild swing into oncoming traffic and hit the gas, doing at least 35 mph in the school zone, trying to get to work or yoga class.  They trust that Johnny has been through one dangerous part of his day and they can rely on the school to take good care of him until the swarm of parents descends on the school at 3:10 that afternoon and the second dangerous part of his day occurs.

I, of course, was not above losing my temper at the other drivers (a saintly driver myself) and I once let the word ‘asshole’ escape my lips, my two astounded children in the car to hear me, and because I had been really surprised at being cut off, my head snapped to face the other mother when I let the word slip.  She read my lips.  It’s amazing my daughter ever returned to school.


  1. Rrrrrrrrrrichard LApril 18, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I live across the street from a school drop off zone, so I know what you mean. What you left out is the constant honking at each's other's rudeness. Ourneighborhood finally complained and there is far less of it now.

  2. Yay for the neighborhood! Parents are a tough group of people to stand up to.