'Strong Thoughts: School pick-up line tests reporter’s patience
by CHRISTY ARMSTRONG Banner Staff Writer
Apr 20, 2014 | 597 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Patience may be an important virtue, but I am not the most patient person in the world — or even in my hometown.

One day last week, my patience was tested at an elementary school.

I ended up being stuck in a line of cars waiting for children to leave school for the day. Never had I ever had such a problem with road rage as when I was stuck in that pick-up line.

I had been covering a story at the school, taking photos and interviewing students, teachers and community volunteers who were involved in what was going on that day.

While I had tried my best to avoid being at the school until the last bell rang for the day, I found myself walking out of the school right before 2:30 p.m.

My attempts to park in an out-of-the-way place just in case school let out before I was done had been for naught. The line of families in cars waiting in line for their children was longer than anticipated, and my car was blocked into its space by two lanes of one-way traffic that had come to a complete standstill.

A kind Hispanic lady in the car right behind mine told me in a mixture of English, Spanish and hand gestures that, once the students were ready to leave, we wouldn’t have to wait a very long time. With a forced smile, I resigned myself to my car’s driver’s seat.

While the people behind me courteously let me cut in line once the first cars began to move, I was still stuck in the stop-and-go traffic.

All the while, friendly teachers with megaphones kept knocking on my window to ask which young child I was there to drive home so they could help him or her find my car.

“I don’t have a child,” I replied on at least three separate occasions while picking up my press pass from its place on the passenger seat to show them, in hopes they wouldn’t be too suspicious that I might be idling there for a different reason. “I just got stuck in line.”

Seconds turned into minutes, and what should have been a quick drive from my parking spot to the road turned into a wait that lasted at least 30 minutes. With the main road in sight, stuck in line was a frustrating place to be.

The icing on the proverbial cake was watching the school principal walk outside to see how everything was going with the after-school melee. As she surveyed the vehicles in line, she spotted me and waved. Then, she elbowed a teacher and pointed at me. They shared a laugh.

In hindsight, I am glad someone enjoyed my time in the pick-up line.

I was momentarily tempted to whip my car onto the grass so I could go around the line instead of being on the bumper-to-bumper pavement, but I figured reckless driving was a bad idea given the fact that there were so many children weaving between the cars as they tried to get to the vehicles belonging to their families.

I also thought the school resource officer who was helping oversee the traffic situation might have become a little judgmental about my driving choices.

Patience is something I could certainly use more of, but how to get it is a mystery that still eludes me after my 20-something years of life.

My grandmother taught me an important lesson growing up: “Be careful what you pray for.”

I didn’t always believe her. In the past, I have actually prayed for patience. Unfortunately, that has resulted in me getting plenty of opportunities to practice being patient.

Whether it has been training a new employee with a short attention span at a college student worker job or having to explain to a precious little boy in the church nursery for the umpteenth time that, no, it’s not OK to eat the Play-Doh or even put it in a little girl’s hair, the opportunities have been pretty abundant.

There was also that whole getting-stuck-in-school-traffic thing.

As many of us celebrate Easter today, I wonder how much patience was involved in the story of what Christians believe to be the true meaning of the holiday.

Jesus promised his disciples he would rise from the dead after three days, a concept that either went over the heads of some of them or gave others of them feelings of disbelief. But for those who did believe, I wonder how impatient they felt while waiting to see if the promise of him rising from the dead had been true. Three days must have seemed like forever.

The celebration of Easter is a celebration of an answered promise. The patience paid off in a miraculous way.

There are some things in life that are definitely worth waiting for — even if the wait seems crushingly unbearable.

Still, I will be the first to admit that patience is not something that comes naturally to me. If I had been given a grade for the test of my patience at the school that day, it might have been less than stellar.

I do know one thing though; I henceforth resolve to try to never end up in a school pick-up line again unless I’m actually there to pick up a child (only then would it be worth the wait). Local teachers and principals standing outside after school can spare their sympathetic bouts of laughter for some other poor soul.