You gotta love those dicey mind games in the pickup lane

Did you happen to catch that episode of NBC’s new prime-time show “The Parenthood” where Julia, a working mom in a rush to get to a meeting, endures the brazenness of another mom who sneaks in front of her in the car drop-off lane at her daughter’s elementary school? The brazen one then gets out of her car, unloads her trunk and then exchanges witty repartee with another mom, blissfully unconcerned about the other parents patiently waiting for her to get out of the way.


If you’ve ever dared to enter the drop-off / pick-up zone at an elementary school, you know that this is pretty reckless behavior.

For the record, I can only give “The Parenthood” a lukewarm review. I don’t know about you, but when I turn on the tube it’s escape I’m after, not an infusion of angst-ridden family dramas.

I have plenty of my own to contend with, thank you very much.

That said, this little drop-off lane ‘episode’ is a classic. I howled with laughter.

But make no mistake people, this drop-off / pick-up lane business is no laughing matter.

One afternoon several months ago, I drove west on Illinois Street in Batavia toward H.C. Storm Elementary School to pick up my daughter from school, just like I always do. Right outside the school, at the four-way stop with Van Nortwick, I waited my turn to cross Van Nortwick and enter the school circle. People usually play nice and take turns, but not this time. A woman driving a minivan (oh alright, I’ll resist the urge to be catty and name the color, make and model, but you know who you are), apparently completely oblivious about my existence, turned into the circle when it was my turn. I was floored.

Whatever. So what.

But the following week, same thing. She budged. Cut in front of me.

Given the location of my house, it makes absolutely no sense for me to drive out of my way so I can idle on Van Nortwick and wait for the bell to ring.

Now, I realize that with major earthquakes occurring every other day and fires and other tragic goings-on, my little drama is small potatoes – it really is – but in my little corner of the world it’s become almost newsworthy.

If Batavia really were Mayberry perhaps Sheriff Andy Taylor would step in and give this woman the ‘what for.’

Her behavior persisted for several weeks. I didn’t challenge her (it wouldn’t be cool for me to inch forward and block the intersection or even beep). But then another woman cut me off a few times, too.

After one of them actually wagged a finger at me (really?) I finally wondered, did I ‘miss the memo?’ Am I out of the ‘loop,’ so to speak? What rule, or – God forbid – law, am I breaking that I need to wise up to?

After a few more baffling episodes of someone-missed-the-taking-turns-lesson-in-kindergarten I figured it had to be me. I broke down and called the Batavia police department, figuring someone there could enlighten me. I explained the situation, confessed my crime and asked for insight.

No crime committed, apparently.

Then I called the school. Surely they must have issued some directive that all drivers wishing to enter the school circle must do so only by turning right into the circle from Van Nortwick Street, or these women wouldn’t work so hard to pretend I’m not there.


Oh, but no, according to Debbie.

Huh. Really? So what gives?

Doesn’t this just sound just a little bit ridiculous?

I can see the police report now:

“Two women were arrested following a scuffle at the intersection of Illinois and Van Nortwick Streets in Batavia, over a dispute about whose turn it was to enter the circle at H.C. Storm Elementary School Wednesday afternoon. Charges pending.”

Yeah, that would be ugly.

Good thing it’s balmy enough to skip the dicey mind games in the pick-up lane and simply walk.

Those hardy souls who love the environment and walk to school no matter the weather may be on to something. Walking keeps your blood pressure down – and keeps your name out of the police blotter.

At first glance they appear to be sweet, cookie-baking moms, but don’t let some of those minivan- wielding women fool you, folks. They’re serious.

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