Day’s Verse:
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them.
Romans 16:17

Blue SlugI go by lots of bus stops on my usual commute. On a normal day I see between 15 and 20 school buses, pass by two schools, and see lots of cold-looking students. More than seeing kids standing outside, huddled in their sweatshirts (being too cool to wear warm-but-dorky down jackets), I see cars idling on corners. Parents drive out to the bus stops and sit, car idling and heat on, with their kids until the bus comes. That way little Charlize and Jackson don’t have to spend even 10 minutes out feeling even slightly uncomfortable.

Almost daily I see two neighbors, their driveways within ten feet of each other, idling in separate SUVs, steam (and CO2, but I can’t see that) rising from their tailpipes as each parent waits in cozy warmth with his respective child. They’re waiting for the same bus — I know because I’ve been there when the bus comes — but every day they idle in separate cars ten feet apart. When the bus leaves, one of the SUVs drives away. The other one drives back into the garage. That parent literally drove to the end of the driveway, burned gas for 10 minutes to keep dear little Austin comfy, and drove back home again when Austin safely caught his bus.

This particularly egregious instance of… what would I call it? Conspicuous consumption? Excessive offspring-coddling? Revolting frittering away of resources? Sheer wrongheaded stupidity? Whatever category it falls under (and I have by no means exhausted my invective on this account; I stop only to spare you), this instance may be the worst but it certainly isn’t unique. Just before the scheduled bus-arrival time, the line of vans and SUVs stretch around corner bus stops in long rows, each containing one parent and one child. I ride by without stopping, trying not to even look at it, because looking sparks my ire and encourages me to do something stupid, like stop and try to talk to these complacent suburban soccer moms.

I’m not even going to get into the long traffic jams that form as parents drop their children off at school. Let me simply add that there’s this amazing invention called a school bus, which Merriam-Webster defines as a “Motorized vehicle for transporting schoolchildren and equipped with specialized safety devices.” No need to waste time and resources individually dropping precious Krystal right in front of the school doors after waiting in a long line of other parents doing the same thing. The school bus will do all that for you, with the added bonus of saving you money (no gas) and time (no waiting).

OK, I did get into it a little bit. But frankly all the traffic from parents driving their kids could be eliminated so simply: Send your kids on a short walk to the bus stop, or if you live close enough, directly to school. The Institute for European Environmental Policy suggested back in 2007 that car-free zones be established within 1/2 a mile of schools, but I haven’t heard of any actual implementation of that idea. The benefits — cutting driving miles, road congestion, and road wear; saving parents’ time; and helping prevent or reduce obesity in school children, to list a few — far outweigh any costs (such as what? Making your child stand outside for 10 minutes in 15°F weather? Nobody gets frostbite or hypothermia in that short of time. Come on. Having to wake kids up a little earlier to catch a bus? Come on).

I have no snappy conclusion. I would just like to see fewer cars and more kids in the morning.

KF quality

3 thoughts on “This Really Gets My Goat

  1. Do you suppose the parents are trying to protect their wee ones from being accosted by a rabid environmentalist freak riding by on a bicycle?

  2. I always walked to school. We lived so close to it, it seemed ridiculous to drive. Every now and then, my dad would drive us up the street if it was a torrential downpour or a blizzard, but it definitely wasn’t a regular thing.

    That driveway thing sounds ridiculous!!

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