Every afternoon around 3 PM, I sit in my rocking lounge chair and wait. Sometimes I wait for up to 45 minutes. Sometimes I may even fold clothes as I wait, or write a small article for my blog. I never mind the waiting. Most days I do not wait alone. My 70 pound dog Coco fancies herself a lap dog, and so she waits with me…on my lap…in the lounge chair. (I have boundary issues with our dogs!) I know this waiting is a luxury, and I feel awkward announcing this to the world, almost as if I am bragging. But, do not think less of me, dear Reader, for I have waited a long time to be able to wait.
You ask, for what are you waiting? I will tell you, faithful Reader. I am waiting for the sound of my children—usually screaming at each other over some trivial thing like whose turn it is to take in the garbage can—as they park their bikes in the garage.
Yes, my children have reached the enviable age where they can ride their bikes the one-mile to their school. Some of you who have children who ride the bus may be utterly puzzled by the joy I now find in waiting at 3 PM. I am betting, however, that a great number of you know very well why you can find me rocking and smiling as I wait. That’s right, oh perceptive Reader, I smile because I have graduated from the carpool line, or as I like to call it A.P. or Afternoon Purgatory.
I firmly believe that if Dante were living in present day USA, he surely would have made waiting in the carpool line in the Texas heat one of his many layers of hell or at the very least purgatory. The visual image alone would frighten Virgil himself: metal and plastic machines of all colors, emitting waving toxic vapors snaking around a parking lot in a configuration that looks like a giant patchwork colored snake who just shed its sizeable skin. People—most of them women—are slumped over black wheels while holding small electronic devices. Some have rolled down their windows. Other clever carpoolers—most likely on the professional carpooling circuit—have created makeshift curtains out of discarded sweatshirts or rain jackets. Each drone-like vehicle displays a number that must be counted by an official looking person wearing a garish neon yellow vest. The visage of each driver varies between sullen, angry, nervous and pensive. Of course, a few can be seen drooling on themselves as they catch a few winks before the lines of children emerge from the school. After all, they will surely sleep more than the 15 minutes sleep doctors recommend. Those lucky few are usually wakened by a blaring horn.