Every morning during the cold months, I find myself sitting in a long line of cars, with my daughter in the passenger seat, as we wait to get to the drop off location for school. And then, after she gets out, I wait an even longer amount of time, just to be able to actually get out of the school parking lot and on to the road.
It’s a mess of traffic. There’s no real good flow in this process, and so these cars inch along at a snail’s pace, waiting for the car in front of them to move slightly forward so they can move slightly forward, all in the hope that it will soon be their turn to wait for the freedom of turning off of the small side road onto the much busier road that will entail freedom from the weird frozen conga line which is school drop-off.
And while I sit in this line, peering through the haze of frozen car exhaust filling the street and parents attempting the most ridiculous driving maneuvers in order to somehow increase their chances of moving through the line faster, while risking the lives and car integrities of their fellow humans, I can’t help but think of this weird situation where all of these people are seated in their warm little rooms, staring out at the rest of the world, wishing for their turn to be free.
I hate the cold, and I often find myself willing to burn all the carbon I can just to feel all the warm I can while stuck out in the harsh freezing temperatures of a Wisconsin winter. But at the same time, I look at all of these cars, idling as they expel fumes from their tailpipes, filled with people struggling to feel the warmth of their car’s heaters, and, well, I can’t help but feel a little ridiculous as I sit in my warm little weather isolation unit, hoping to somehow get back to my much larger home and sit on top of a space heater hoping to thaw out from my time where I didn’t actually get out into the actual cold, because I got into my car from my garage.
But it also seems so…oddly modern. This line of cars all waiting to move forward is too perfect of a metaphor for the rat race we often describe ourselves as living in. These people who swerve through the lines trying to get through quicker because they have some other place to be, presumably, forgoing any care for the rules, while I sit there (im)patiently hoping my turn will come.
In other words, I have far too much time to my own thoughts while I sit in this line, and sometimes those thoughts don’t come out fully formed, and now I’m here trying to present them to you without a real thought of where they are going.
But the real point here is…I hate school drop off.