Thursday, May 12, 2011

Car Pool Lane Rules are for Suckers and Commoners

Every morning, at my daughter’s new school, I’m annoyed by the parents who drop their kids off. It’s not just this school. It’s the same story at every campus throughout L.A. This new school is a lot more efficient in getting kids dropped off in the morning than her former school, for a number of reasons. The first is that it is a magnet school so many of the kids are bused in, which cuts down on the car traffic. And since it’s a magnet school, the kids come with parents who are generally more conscious than the average LAUSD parent. If they’re concerned enough about their kids’ educations to get them into a magnet, then they’re generally going to be more concerned about their children’s safety in the mornings, and more considerate of other drivers, the car pool rules, and will read signs. Even so, though, there are always a handful of parents who could care less about other people, rules and signs. And one of them bugs me every single morning.

I get my daughter to school pretty early in the mornings. It’s a bit of a drive so I like to beat the school and work traffic by leaving before most people get on the road. I like to drop her off and get the heck out of there before the crazies show up. But one car in particular really bugs me. The red Jeep. She shows up every morning, right when the gates open, just ahead of the no parking zone, in front of the rest of us, who are all parked behind the no parking zone, to let her precious, “gifted” son out of the car. She never bothers waiting in line. She doesn’t cut in line. She brazenly passes the rest of us every morning and parks in front of the line. Like her son, she must be “gifted”; special, not like the rest of us, entitled to extra privileges not afforded to average people. I get it. All of us rule followers behind the No Parking Zone get it. We’re just a bunch of commoners and suckers.

She annoys me, not because she is dangerous and careless, like so many other drivers in the morning, but because she’s so selfish. Everybody behind the no parking zone is respectful of the carpool rules, and we teach our kids to wait their turn and not cut in front of anyone in line. The message she is giving all of us, and her son, is that they’re not like the rest of us, and are therefore more entitled. That’s why she bugs me.

After I send my daughter off to school, with a smile and good wishes for the day, I get out of there as fast and as safely as I can, so I can miss the idiots who double park, make three point turns in the middle of the busy street, block driveways, speed, honk, cut into the car pool lane (right in front of the “do not cut into the car pool lane” sign), jay walk (right in front of the “do not jay walk” sign), text, pick their nose in the middle of the street (it’s true – I watched a dad stop dead in the middle of the street to dig a big one out), talk on the phone, or let their kids off at the end of the block and then follow them at walking speed until they get into the gate, just to make sure they aren’t abducted in the three minutes that it takes to walk in to the playground. Sometimes they have volunteers who keep the traffic moving. When they’re there, people tend to be more civilized. I won’t volunteer to do that, though, because I don’t think I’d be too civilized about car pool duty. I’m apt to drag somebody out of their car some day, just to give them a what for because I’m still pissed off about my kid almost getting hit by a crazy mom who pulled up on the curb after making a three point turn in the street a year ago at my daughter’s other school.

To get home, I need to pass by another school - a middle school, and the parents are CRAZY. Many of them cut in line by speeding past the turn lane to make a U-turn to cut in line. I’ve seen three people do this at once, one of them from the far lane. Don’t honk at them, or you’ll get cussed out or flipped off. Parents who do this are bad enough. But with their kids in the car?

As I headed south on my route home today, I got stuck behind two women, in separate cars, who were first in line at a red light. They were BOTH putting on make up. The light turned green and neither one of them knew it because they were putting on mascara. At the same time! It might be funny later, as a cartoon, but this morning, it was just another frightening, stupid moment trying to get my kid to school.

The city of Los Angeles is broke. I don’t get why the cops aren’t at every school in the morning, busting people left and right. They’d bring in some decent revenue for the city while keeping our school zones safe. And they’d get that red Jeep, and everything that it symbolizes, out of my face.