|Get in the car. Now.|
I have a problem. But only from 8:30-8:45 every morning. It never fails, when it’s time to leave for school, we’re late.
I can get to school in 15 minutes. Really, it should take 20. Taking only 15 is the sign of a very bad morning.
The most contentious route is known as the “The Shortcut.” It’s a two-track that cuts off a millimeter of distance and possibly 15 seconds total travel time.
On good mornings, I take the paved road with maintained shoulders, white lines and stop signs. But if it’s a rough morning and the car ahead of me isn’t going fast enough or, worse, the speed limit, I know what I have to do.
I take The Shortcut.
“Watch for the white car!” I’ll cry, taking a hard right. We have our mark.
But it’s a gamble because The Shortcut comes with a few hazards of its own.
It’s only a half-mile long but it crosses two terrains that minivans aren’t built for. The first is a swamp with unruly growth dragging along the paint on each side of the vehicle. But it’s not that the road is narrow through the swamp (in fact, two sane mothers driving after school drop-off can pass amiably and with a wave). It’s that the road is so rutted through the swamp that it requires hugging the edge of the road for the smoothest path. To do this takes nerves, agility and a total disregard for resale value.
Once the swamp is navigated, the next problem is the Hill. It’s not long but it’s got issues. The right side looks solid but reveals itself at the last minute to be a sandtrap longer and deeper than both tires on your passenger side. You want to stay out of this hole if you are hoping to make second bell.
The hill also features a nice blind spot – the moment you need speed to make the hill, you need to take the left lane at the last second to avoid the sand pit. This makes the Shortcut a fine idea except for one glittering moment of terror when you top the hill. Will you make it up? All signs point to yes. But will you make it alive? No guarantees.
The ultimate goal at this point is not to get to school on time or even alive. It’s to beat the white car to the intersection closest to the school. If we do, Mom has made it worth her time and money to bottom out the shocks on her aging minivan.
However, if the white car should pass through the intersection whilst we sit at the lone stop sign, things get ugly and fast.
“Cheater!” one of us (usually me) will cry. “You’ll pay for this!” another will cry (again, me, referring to the money needed to replace the muffler left on the washout below the hill).
In the end, I’ll tail the white car to school and calmly enter the drop-off line like all the other moms in minivans. But I’ll be in turmoil. Come tomorrow, do I risk another tardy, damage the van or get up 15 minutes earlier?
Clearly, the first step is to find out how many tardies the kids have left. No reason to take any drastic measures just yet…