An Open Letter to the Guy Behind Me at School Drop-off this Morning

I get it. You had somewhere to be this morning and it wasn’t at your kid’s school to drop them off. Perhaps your wife usually does it. I don’t know your circumstances.

And you don’t know mine.

So when I stopped at the wrong spot to drop my kid off and then moved forward a mere 20 more feet, you really could have just played it cool, but you didn’t, you had to let me know that I’d somehow fucked up. And I get that too.

Really, I do, because there are a million little things that get under my skin on a daily basis. Like when someone doesn’t use their blinker when making a turn. Like when the barista at Starbucks doesn’t leave enough room in my coffee, or leaves too fucking much. Or when I thought I had my wallet and I don’t when I pull up to the gas pump. Yes, I get it, that my stopping short of the mark to drop off my son really pissed you off.

And you know what, I’ve walked in your shoes. I’ve been the angry asshole who made hand gestures at other people who I didn’t know because they fucked up in a minor way on the road. But I’ve learned over time that it’s not worth it to act out, especially at my son’s school. So, consider yourself lucky that we didn’t have an altercation. I didn’t give you the full bird salute, or roll down the window to have a word of prayer with you, or something worse. Because, you know what, that wouldn’t have helped anything and it would have just caused more anxiety for my son about the “drop off.”

Now, I know that here in our little suburban utopia, everyone is supposed to be perfect. I know that, especially when you live in here and you send your kid to private school, you’re supposed to have your shit together.

I know all that.

But, I have news for you, it’s all a big act that we perform for each other here. None of us really have it as together as we want each other to believe. We’re all just trying to get through the days and make our lives work. Some of us have an easier time of that than others, perhaps you can relate to that.

And I know that to the outside world, I look like I have my shit together. In fact, I always have been good at keeping up appearances. Even in the depths of my alcohol addiction, no one knew what was up. So, I know that I probably looked like I had it together this morning when you pulled up behind my nice car in the drop off line.

And mostly I did have my shit together, despite the gnawing anxiety that I have about some things going on in my life at the moment — some personal decisions weighing on my mind, some business that is on the table with a large customer, and the fact that I’d only had one cup of coffee.

But my kid, well, my kid he’s not quite with me yet. He doesn’t always have it together either, and he lets us know it. And that’s okay, because he’s nine. So, he gets a bit antsy when we do the drop off in the morning sometimes. Despite the fact that we’ve been doing it for the entire school year, he still sometimes doesn’t know when to get out of the car. And today was one of those mornings.

I told him to get out of the car early in the line, but he wasn’t ready. It doesn’t help that there’s construction at the end of the sidewalk where we usually let kids off or that there was no teacher or safety patrol there this morning, so it wasn’t clear to either me or him exactly where to let him out today.

And so as I pulled toward the end of the sidewalk, we passed the last safety patrol kid — And that’s when my son got a little freaked out and thirty-seconds of chaos ensued, “Dad, Dad, Let me out.” And that’s when I stopped where I wasn’t supposed to stop, at least in your mind, Mr. Handwaver.

And you know what Mr. Handwaver, it wasn’t a big deal. Me stopping when he started expressing concern might have delayed you by, I don’t know, 5 microseconds. But I get it, I get that this wasn’t part of your plan and that maybe you have some shit going on in your own world that made you act like an irrational asshole.

So, I’ll leave you with a bit of advice. The next time I fail miserably in your view, try to take a few deep breaths, feel that breath in your chest, and know that my breathing might not be as soft and comfortable as yours. Know that I might be dealing with more than just dropping my kid off at school, and I’ll remember that you might be not have it quite as together as you’d like the world to think you do either.

7 responses to “An Open Letter to the Guy Behind Me at School Drop-off this Morning”

  1. “or roll down the window to have a word of prayer with you” – this made me laugh!
    Great post, man. I love this. And I totally get it too. I can talk big spiritual game, but so many times I get set off by stupid little things. And I hate that I allow that, but at least sometimes I can catch myself and say “not a big deal not a big deal not a big deal” and let it slide. Or I do those deep breaths you talk about. A lot of it is around my kids, so I really want to rein it in, so they don’t use me as an example of what to do when frustrated or annoyed. So frickin’ hard.

    Anyway, I really loved this. Fantastic post.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I learned the “word of prayer” bit from a gentleman who hailed from Memphis, TN. He was my Dad’s boss, friend, and mentor. Mr. Richard was an amazing man who carried himself with the grace and could dress someone down in a way that they might not even know it had happened. I miss him dearly.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, Damien. I’ve been trying all day to think about the best response, and in fact this was part of the reason for my call. Anyway, I’m trying hard every day to be “you” in this scene, but I also know that sometimes (thankfully not too often) I’m that other guy. Not a fun feeling! You captured this really well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s a good thing you didn’t get the hand wave from a teacher!
    We had a kindergarten teacher who would yell at parents that didn’t do the drop off just right.
    She scared the dickens out of them!
    I am guilty of this myself. One time, I was on my way home from school, and someone did something nutty, and I gave them the bird and yelled at them, all with my window rolled down.
    Then right behind me I noticed a teacher in the car who was one of the “church lady” teachers.
    I was so scared she saw me, and would tell the other “church lady” teacher at school and I would be shamed to death.
    The next day, all day I was so scared, creeping around the halls, hoping I never saw them.
    I don’t know if she saw or heard me or not, but she never said anything.

    Liked by 1 person

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