Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Catatonic in the Carpool
Sitting in a school carpool line is something I have been doing on a pretty regular basis for the last six years. It is a mommy responsibility that I can unequivocally claim brings very little joy, ranking right up there with having a cavity filled or unruly eyebrows groomed with high-temperature wax.
In fact, I feel somewhat confident making the suggestion that there are few parents who look forward to this particular time of the day. I’m nothing, if not ambitious, when projecting my own thoughts onto others primarily because I cannot embrace a world that finds delight in the carpool line.
This line will break your spirit. It is a never-ending, winding row of hot metal and rubber that makes the term infinity seem brief. Each day, hope precariously teeters on despair as you consider that you just might not make it to the end, leaving you forever stranded in the line of cars that inches forward at a speed that rivals the earth’s rotation.
Admittedly, impatience plays a role in the dread I feel when entering into the sluggish labyrinth that openly mocks my ongoing quest for efficiency. Time is not my own, a concept confirmed each minute stolen by the carpool line thief who could care less about my overscheduled schedule or my overdone to do list.
Attempts have been made to use the time spent waiting wisely. For a time, I paid bills while sitting behind the wheel. That worked pretty well until one slipped under the car seat, provoking an unfriendly phone call from the folks at Georgia Power Company about an unpaid bill. Seeing how we are fond of electricity, I decided that bill paying in the car didn’t showcase my competence.
I have also used the time to talk on the phone, passing the excruciating boredom by catching up with friends. This too provided temporary relief until I exhausted our family’s minutes within the first few days of the month. The extra charges incurred by excessive nonsensical chatting made for happy shareholders at Bellsouth. All it did for my spouse, however , was cause the right eye in his head to manically twitch.
I’ve read devotionals, books, and magazines while in the car but found I had difficulty maintaining the concentration needed for comprehension. Too focused on the reading material and I neglected to progress the inch I should have forwarded the car, leaving a glaring gap to all of the other carpoolers, proclaiming, “THE DRIVER OF THIS CAR IS NOT PAYING ATTENTION. PLEASE HONK, GESTURE OR YELL BECAUSE SHE IS HOLDING YOU HOSTAGE TO THIS LINE.”
Because I live in the South, the weather contributes to the carpool aggravation. By mid afternoon, it is sweltering hot, which forces hard decisions while waiting in line. Should the engine continue to run, ensuring a cool temperature inside the car, all the while acknowledging that outside the car gas dollars are blowing right out of the tail pipe, providing the exhaust an additional opportunity to bust through yet another layer of the ozone?
Or should the ignition be turned off, adding heat exhaustion to the already long list of exhaustions, causing your children great embarrassment when you finally reach them at the end of the line because you and the car now smell like all manner of pungent armpit?
Some days I choose to be hot, yet ecological-minded, and sometimes I’m cool and so un-green. Clearly a quandary in need of further deliberation.
So I sit with very little to do but watch the digital clock on the dashboard tease me with its unhurriedness. Glassy-eyed and almost catatonic, I wait and I wait some more, progressing forward just enough to maintain a slither of optimism that the waiting will eventually come to an end. .
And holding onto just enough of it to do it all again tomorrow.