Whatever Happened to Courtesy

It was one of those mornings.  Everything that could go wrong did.  Anything that could have taken extra time was sure to.  In order to get the boys to school on time we have to leave the house no later than 8:10.  Last Friday we loaded into the car at 8:18.  Needless to say by the time we left I was feeling a bit frustrated.

Despite my frustration I wasn’t driving like a maniac.  I see no point in being reckless when I’m running behind.  No matter how much I hate being late it’s just not worth getting worked up over.  You’ll get there when you get there.  As we started making our way through the neighborhood that surrounds the boys school I could see that we were not the only people running late.  The line of cars stretched at least 3 blocks from the school.  So we joined the line of cars and settled in to wait.  We were making decent progress through the line when I ran across my first discourteous act of the day.

The way the route to school works is that the main street in the neighborhood becomes a one way street during drop off and pick up times.  That way the right lane can turn into a drop off (or pick up) lane and the left lane can be used to go straight through.  There is also a curb that parents can park along up by the school and you use the left lane to access it.  Once you turn into the school parking lot there is a bus lane for the busses and day care vans to use, and then there is a second lane for parents dropping off their children from their personal vehicles.

I was in the right lane which was moving slow but it was moving.  Our biggest hold up was the bus 3-4 cars in front of me.  As we made our way up to the last block before the school a daycare van passed  my car on the left (because that lane was moving much more quickly) and as I watched it moving ahead of me I saw it cut back over into the right lane at the point where we actually turn into the school parking lot.

I couldn’t believe it.  Did that van driver really think that because they had 6-8 kids to drop off that their time was more valuable than the 6 cars he cut off?  Each of which could be holding 1-2 kids inside of them (if not more).  Not only that, but I was quite glad that the name of the company on the outside of the van was not one that I had ever used when my children were going to daycare because if they were willing to take a risk and cut off so many cars, what other risks is that driver taking with my child in the vehicle?

Thankfully, despite their arrogance, nothing bad came of the maneuver.  No accidents occurred and no one was hurt.  The line continued its creep forward and I finally was able to turn my car into the parking lot.  I had my van at the point where the two drop off lanes split.  I hadn’t quite made the full turn into the parent drop off lane, but I had cleared the entrance to the bus lane so any busses could enter it (though as late as we were I’m pretty sure all the busses and vans had already arrived).

As I sat waiting for the cars to move forward again I glanced into my rearview mirror and saw my second discourteous act of the day.  The parent behind me, no longer content with waiting for the line to move, puts their car into gear and swerves around my van and drives themselves into the bus lane to drop off their child.  Now, I can understand the frustration of running late, and I don’t know what other obligations that this parent had.  However, that still does not make what they did the right thing to do.  The school separates car and bus drop off for a reason and I feel it was irresponsible at least to do what they did.

I had a few choice words to say when I saw that including something to the effect of why can’t people just follow the rules.  Brendan (whose hearing seems to work best when I’m muttering to myself in a vehicle) pipes up with, “Mom, are you talking to us or the person in that other car?”  I decided to turn the situation into a teaching lesson for my kids (okay, for Brendan but hey maybe the other two could pick up a thing or two if they happened to be paying attention).

I explained that my words were directed toward the other vehicle, but that they couldn’t actually hear what I was saying.  I further went on and told him that he and his siblings should always follow the rules of the road even when they are inconvenient.  I probably got a little preachy, but I wanted him to understand that even if you’re running behind it isn’t an excuse to break the law or inconvenience others.  I figured if he could see first hand what my reaction was to someone bending the rules to their own benefit then he could weigh that when he’s in a similar situation and hopefully would make the right choice not to bend the rules.

Brendan was left pondering the meaning of my words as our car crept it’s way up the (Correct!) drop off lane.  Once you enter the drop off lane you’re generally about 5-6 cars from the crossing guard.  As a general rule only the first and possibly second car will let their kids out.  That rule is not set in stone, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done any other way.  Because only 1 or 2 cars will go after the crossing guard stops the kids what they generally do is let one set of kids cross then let the 1-2 cars go through.

On this day, the crossing guard didn’t get the memo.  By the time I reached the front of the line and let the boys out of the car I could finally see why the cars had been so backed up in the first place.  The crossing guard was letting a group of kids cross when I had finished getting my boys on their way.  I waited patiently for the last of the group to cross and expected the crossing guard to step aside and let my car go through.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Even after the last kid had crossed the street he stood there, arms out, blocking my path.  I sat there flabbergasted by this until I realized a second group of kids were making their way toward the crossing guard and he intended to block the cars until this second group had passed…and then a third group of kids…and then a straggler…followed by a second one.  Finally when a fourth group of kids were almost to the crosswalk he decided he’d let enough through and moved to the side so I and a few other cars (who had all let their kids out since we’d had to wait so long) could pass.

That in itself was annoying enough.  There is usually a teacher at the crosswalk with the student crossing guard who can guide them to the appropriate amount of time to block cars and kids.  For whatever reason that teacher was not present on Friday, and the kid was having to make those judgments on his own.  The worst part of the entire scenario is what happened next.

I took my foot off the brake pedal and was at the point where I was going to accelerate my car to begin my drive home.  Before I could settle my foot onto the gas pedal two kids decided they were going to ignore the crossing guard and darted across my path.  By some miracle I saw them start to dart around him and was able to put my foot back onto the brake rather than the gas.  If I hadn’t been paying enough attention, or driving on auto pilot that could have been a disaster.

But thankfully it wasn’t.  It did make me wonder though if the parents of these children had spent any time teaching them that they should always obey the crossing guard.  I will admit that I am probably the only parent that takes my kids up to the school in the summer to drill them on drop off and pick up procedures, but that’s no reason why parents can’t teach their kids what they should be doing when making their way across a busy and potentially dangerous parking lot.

With a huge sigh of relief I finally made my way out of the drop off lane and headed for home.  Wondering all the while, what ever happened to courtesy?

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