Time to revisit Dante’s Inferno.
Those important pieces of classical writing that I read in college are a little fuzzy these days. That’s what happens when the music you listened to in college has been on classic rock stations for the past five years.
But I need to reread Dante’s Inferno because I only remember (with the aid of Google) nine circles of hell in the poem.
But I’m sure there is a 10th.
The 10 circles of hell have to be limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, treachery and school parking lots during pick-up/drop-off time.
Come to think of it, after attempting to pick up and drop off children at elementary, middle and high schools, I am sure I have witnessed limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery on a fairly regular basis over the past decade.
We send our children to school to get a good education. They also learn social skills and other types of behavior needed later in life. They learn to get along.
But often not more than a few hundred yards outside of the doors to schools where our children are being educated, we adults throw out all the common sense that we have learned throughout the years. We turn the parking lots and streets near their schools into areas that even Mad Max wouldn’t dare drive through.
“Surely this is an extreme exaggeration,” some of you may think. Blessed are you who are without children, whose children are too young to attend school, whose spouse handles child transport, whose children ride the bus or whose kiddos attend a smaller school.
I led a sheltered childhood far away from the pain and agony inflicted by larger school traffic.
My entire school — kindergarten through 12th grade — had approximately 500 fewer students than are in my freshman’s class. Or about 60 fewer students than are in her high school band.
Traffic wasn’t a concern, even with some of us tearing around at age 14 on our school permits. The biggest concern was where your car was after school. It was possible that a friend sneaked out and moved it, since everybody just left their keys in their cars.
How “small town,” right?
Now I hope to keep my sanity in my car and not educate my children with any more colorful combinations of four-letter words while trying to successfully get them to their daily educational destinations.
There are clearly marked lanes. There are designated crosswalks. There are large signs marking entrances and exits.
And yet we parents throw all rules out the window and invite anarchy into our lives if there seems to be an opportunity to shave five seconds off the time needed to unload our offspring.
Last week I witnessed a car pulling over to the side on the main street past a school, temporarily parking in front of the only yellow painted curb for two blocks and 10 feet in front of a school driveway. One block past the crosswalk with a crossing guard, two children were let out to dart across traffic coming from two different directions.
How long was the line of cars in the dropoff lane? It was a grand total of one.
That saved a driver a lot of time.
Then there are those vehicles that attempt to switch lanes while heading for the exit, effectively blocking 50 percent of the escape routes until they are allowed to merge.
There are those drivers who get hypnotized by their phones and miss out that the five cars ahead of them have successfully dropped off their children and driven off.
My favorite first day of school moment this year was waiting for an extra three minutes to depart since I was stuck behind a vehicle at the front of the line. The driver was busy talking out the window to one high-schooler who had passed me while wisely walking to school two blocks back.
Yes, witness limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud and treachery on a regularly basis during drop-off or pick-up time at your nearest school.
But these experiences have taught me one thing.
If my children ever have children of their own, I’ll be the type of grandfather who will be happy to babysit any time at all.
Unless that coincides with the grandkids needing to be dropped off or picked up from their school.
By that point, I’ll be retired from the 10th circle of hell.